The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 31

Pro 31:1

Vv 1-10: Lessons for kings: chastity, temperance, honesty, and love.

LEMUEL: "Dedicated to God".

HIS MOTHER: Solomon's mother was Bathsheba. Mothers in Israel were to be revered (Pro 1:8; 6:20), esp "queen-mothers" (1Ki 2:19; 15:13). Esp mentioned in 1Ki 14:31; 15:2; 2Ki 12:1.

Pro 31:10

See Lesson, Acrostics.

See Lesson, Virtuous woman.

Examples of responsible wives in OT: Sarah (Gen 21:12), wife of Manoah (Jdg 13:22,23), and Abigail (1Sa 25). Solomon had wide experience concerning wives: 1Ki 11:3. Spiritual lessons: Psa 45; Rev 19:7-9.

"Christian women should not copy after the God-aspiring Eve, but after Sarah, the faithful mother of Israel, who submitted herself in all things to Abraham, 'calling him lord.' Nor should their obedience be restricted to Christian husbands only. They should also obey them 'without the word'; that is, those who have not submitted to it, in order that they may be won over to the faith when they behold the chaste and respectful behaviour of their wives, produced by a belief of the truth. Such are the statutory provisions enacted in the world's constitution at the beginning, with respect to the position of women in the body social, and political. Any attempt to alter the arrangement is rebellion against God, and usurpation of the rights of men to whom God has subjected them. Their wisdom is to be quiet; and to make their influence felt by their excellent qualities. They will then rule in the hearts of their rulers, and so ameliorate their own subjection as to convert it into a desirable and sovereign obedience" (Elp 110).

NOBLE CHARACTER: Comprehends all moral virtues. In OT, applied only to Ruth (Rth 3:11).

Pro 31:11

"To her husband in the Truth, a sister has special obligations. She is a loving wife, and a loyal companion of his studies. With him she shares the same aspirations, the same tastes, the same ardour for the Truth of God. She strives to ease his difficulties, and make the home his sanctuary from the stress and battle of life. She sympathises as the closest of friends cannot sympathise. She understands as no other friend can understand. She appreciates as it is not in the power of any but Christ to appreciate. She is a help and a support and a stay in life's troubles as no other being on earth could be, however cordial their friendship and intimate their acquaintance" (RR).

Pro 31:26

"It is written of the virtuous woman that 'she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness' (AV). Surely this suggests abundant opportunity. Everyone knows how cruel words can be, but no one can follow their complex reactions or trace their final effect for evil. Sometimes we see enough to make us afraid. Unkind words have been unkindly remembered and have formed a permanent influence for evil. There has been much unchristian retaliation in words even among those who would never come to blows. Often the permanent effect of such ill words has been worse than that of blows. Gentiles have fought fiercely and afterwards have been friends again. Sometimes men claiming to be disciples of Christ have not only used cruel words, but have remained bitterly hostile to each other for the rest of life.

"In trying to enforce this lesson of mercy and kindness in the little things of life it is well that we should all examine ourselves with unusual scrutiny, for it is a matter in which the worst offenders may be the least conscious of any fault. Moreover it is a matter on which even the closest friends find it difficult to speak openly. Probably many of us have been pained more than once by the spectacle of a good man or woman spoiling the effect of many virtues by a thoughtless or irritable unkindness of speech. There is even such a shadow over many homes. Sometimes there is open retaliation, leading to serious evils. Sometimes the unkindness is all on one side endured by others in silence, but felt just as much. There are offenders who are partly conscious of their fault and try to excuse it by saying, 'I know that I am hasty sometimes, but it is only my way. It is a perfectly natural expression of temper and is soon over.' That which is perfectly natural, however, may also be perfectly devilish. It is well to remember that a flame which only lasts for a few seconds may make a scar that will remain all through life.

"On the other hand, we have met disciples of Christ who seem to remember that they will be judged by their words. The law of kindness is in their tongues even if they reveal no depths of wisdom and knowledge. Their speech may be platitudinous and their gifts mere cups of cold water, but they yet may wield a wonderful influence for good. There will be men and women in the Kingdom of God, who if they at all remember the former things and for a moment look back to the pit from which they were digged, will call to mind the fact that when God first began to 'draw' them to His Kingdom, the first influence was through the cheerful words of a humble neighbour in whose tongue was 'the law of kindness' " (PrPr).

Pro 31:28

Add ..."saying..." at end of verse.

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