Prov 31.1-31 tells us about the words of King Lemuel (to God), and like Agur in Prov 30, we are not sure who this is. There are no kings in Judah with this name, so he may have been a foreign king who believed in Yehovah, or this was a “pet name” for Solomon. Jewish tradition says this is Solomon and the words are from his mother to Bathsheba, but all of this is conjecture.
v 1…The words of King Lemuel, the oracle (prophetic utterance) which his mother taught him (like Timothy in 2 Tim 1.5).
v 2…What, O my son? And what, O son of my womb (Hebrew “bar bitni” and shows attachment)? And what, O son of my vows (Hebrew “bar nedarai” and refers to the marriage covenant)?
v 3…Do not give your strength to women (in sexual obsession), or your ways to that which destroys kings (this type of obsession will destroy kings, and it was the downfall of Solomon-1 Kings 11.4).
v 4…It is not for kings, O Lemuel (not fit for them to act in the following ways), it is not for kings to drink wine (to excess), or for rulers to desire strong drink (under the influence of them)
v 5…Lest they drink and forget what is decreed (in the Torah), and pervert the rights of the afflicted (as defined in the Torah).
v 6…Give strong drink to him who is perishing (grieved in soul, anxious), and wine to him whose life is bitter (to take away the pain. Her point here is the king must avoid drunkenness in order to rule properly).
v 7…Let him drink and forget his poverty (making life a little brighter), and remember his trouble no more (moderate use of wine is proper and a gift from God here, but a king should not over indulge).
v 8…Open your mouth for the dumb (those who have no voice or can’t defend themselves), for the rights of all the unfortunate.
v 9…Open your mouth, judge righteously (as defined in the Torah), and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (who are defenseless).
The next twenty-two verses begin with the twenty-two successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, starting with Aleph in v 10 and ending with Tav in v 31. The Aleph and the Tav allude to total perfection and is used for God and the Messiah. Together they mean “head of the covenant.” The Aleph and Tav symbolize the totality of the word of God and true wisdom, and these verses are about the “excellent wife” of the “Virtuous Woman” we have referred to in this book, contrasted with the Harlot (Prov 1-7). This will have several applications. There is the literal, the contrast between the righteous and the wicked and true religion and false religion. We live with the harlot all around us. Knowledge, insight, discernment, wisdom and understanding come into play because the harlot has presented herself as the virtuous woman, and is perceived by those without the above qualities as the virtuous woman. It is a seduction and you must be able to discern what is of the harlot and what is of the virtuous woman (1 Cor 6.12-20). Micah 7.10 tells us about the end of the harlot. For example, the Hebrew word for marriage is “kedushin.”, related to the word “kedusha, kaddish, kodesh and kiddish.” The word “kedesha” is the word for harlot because she is set apart for evil. They have the same root and you need wisdom, knowledge, insight, discernment and understanding to know the difference spiritually.
v 10…An excellent wife (Hebrew “woman of valor”) who can find? For her worth is far above jewels (valued and rare, and what is listed here is an “ideal goal” and a character list, and it would be rare to find someone who meets every criteria here. It should not used to compare someone to, however, these can be aspirational for any woman who wants to walk in the fear of Yehovah and his wisdom).
v 11…The heart of her husband trusts in her (he relies on her skill at home) and he will have no lack of gain (she guards the family income).
v 12…She does him good (tov) and no evil (ra) all the days of her life (her love is not subject to her moods, it is constant and consistent).
v 13…She looks for wool and flax (to make garments for her family), and works with her hands in delight (cheerful in doing the work needed).
v 14…She is like merchant ships (laden with goods); she brings her food from afar (looks for distant opportunities to meet her family’s needs).
v 15…she also rises while its still night (before dawn), and gives food to her household (having breakfast ready so no time is wasted)
v 16…She considers a field (looking at its worth) and buys a field (as an investment); from her earnings (fruit of her hands) she plants a vineyard (for wine to drink, medicine and offerings, etc).
v 17…She girds herself with strength (vigor) and makes her arms strong (she takes care of her health and is productive)
v 18…She senses (perceives) that her gain is good (profitable) and her lamp does not go out at night (if it is necessary to complete a task on time).
v 19…She stretches out her hands to the distaff (rod on which the flax or wool is rolled), and her hands grasp the spindle (to twist the thread).
v 20…She extends her hand (spreads her palms) to the poor (reaches out), and she stretches out her hand to the needy (is charitable).
v 21…She is not afraid of the snow (cold weather) for her household, for all her household is covered with scarlet (“shanim” wool, a very heavy and warm material).
v 22…She makes coverings for herself (clothing); her clothing is fine linen (shesh) and purple (argamon-very luxurious material).
v 23…Her husband is known in the gates (meeting places for the elders, sages and the courts), when he sits among the elders of the land (in councils).
v 24…She makes new garments and sells them, and supplies belts (sashes and girdles) to the tradesmen (to sell).
v 25…Strength and dignity are her clothing (she is not concerned about what she wears, but her outward display of her character matters because it defines her) and she smiles (is tranquil) at the future (no fear of the latter years).
v 26…She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness (torat chessed) is on her tongue (graceful instruction).
v 27…She looks well to the ways of her household (faithful observation of their needs and how they are doing), and does not eat the bread of idleness (but the bread of the well deserved).
v 28…Her children rise up and bless her (pay her the respect she deserves); her husband also, and he praises her (with the following words):
v 29…”Many daughters have done nobly, but you exceed them all.”
v 30…Charm is deceitful (outer beauty) and beauty is vain (empty, fleeting, does not last and not a true measure of a woman’s worth), but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (the book ends at it began, with the fear of the Lord-Prov 1.7; she has a real relationship with Yehovah and is a blessing to others).
v 31…Give her the product (fruit) of her hands (publicly praise her for what she has done), let her works praise her in the gates (let the elders and people assembled there acknowledge her).