Verses 1-9 A Queen Mother’s Counsel
Verses 1-9 are addressed to an unknown king. Lemuel of Massa and are admonitions from his mother. They are about lust and strong drink. He is also exhorted to rule justly. The term “Son of my vows” refers to a vow that his mother made perhaps in getting the aid of God to have a son. (1 Samuel 1:11)
Verse 3 admonishes against being involved with wicked women who will destroy the power of the king. Verses 4-5 are a warning for the young king about the dangers of strong drink. The deadening of the senses should be reserved for those who are in great pain and are dying in verse 6-7.
In verses 8-9 the king is told to open his mouth and speak up for the rights of the poor and oppressed. The king’s obligation to defend the defenseless is a very high ethical standard.
Verses 10-31 The Good Wife
This is one of the most loved passages in the Bible. It is the beautiful description of a wife’s relationship to her husband. A wife is many things to a husband. As Proverbs says so much about the wicked woman who is faithless towards her husband or who entices the young men, this poem is all the more important. Each verse of this poem begins with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Verse 10 affirms her great value to her husband. Verse 11 states that she will not squander his money and force him into bankruptcy. Verse 12 completes this thought of her competency. Her industriousness of making clothes is described in verse 13. Verse 14 notes her shrewdness in marketing by not buying what is most convenient. Verse 15 points to her energetic work schedule. Verse 16 suggest that her husband has given her trust to make major decisions. She is able to buy property, plant the vineyard, a most needed quality in the Old Testament wife.
She is described as a hard working woman in verse 17. She will gather up her skirt and roll up her sleeves and work in the fields. She is saluted in verse 18 as one who burns the midnight oil in her labors. In verse 19 her weaving skills are mentioned and in verse 20 her generosity to the poor is extoled.
She is not fearful of the winter cold as her family is well dressed in verse 21. She provides herself with a fine wardrobe, as she is a women of distinction in verse 22. This is also attested to that her husband is honored at the gates of the city in verse 23. He is a recognized leader.
Verse 24 again testifies to her industriousness and enterprising work. She is a good trader with the merchants of her wares. Verse 25 tells us that she is a woman of dignity and honor. She is a woman that is not afraid of the future because she is confident and secure.
In verse 26 her attainments are in the realm of the intellectual and verse 27 even more celebrates her industriousness. She is appreciated by her children and husband. She is called blessed. Verse 30 disparages charm and beauty as they are superficial and temporary. Her reverence for the Lord is her virtue. Verse 31 says that she us deserving of the rewards that she receives from her labor. In verse 31 she is a woman deserving of the honor she receives in the public meetings. There is no wonder this poem is loved wherever the Bible is read.