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Proverbs 31

This morning we are going to finish up our study of Proverbs by taking a look at Proverbs 31

Proverbs in general

-The work and words of Solomon who wrote them and who also collected sayings of the wise and compiled this book
-Proverbs is all about wisdom and wise living
-The great promise of Proverbs is this "We can be wise!"
-A person begins on the path of wisdom when they are reconciled to God
-Jesus is the ultimate expression of wisdom, he wisdom in the flesh

Proverbs 31

-a misunderstood passage in the sense that we think we know what its all about -but its way deeper than we suspect
-Key to understanding Proverbs 31:10-31 (which most people zone in on) is to study the whole of the chapter
-a passage that some love and some hate for it's depiction of the roles of men and women in the family and in community.
-In this passage "King Lemuel" who is most likely Solomon (logically so, for Proverbs is the work of Solomon and the only Israelite kings before him were Saul and his father David), shares with us the wisdom of his mother (Bathsheba- who, obviously changed a lot for the good over her life)
- Understanding that Proverbs 31 reflects the words of Solomon's mother is key to figuring out the text. It is not the words of man to a son. It reflects the words of a mother to a son.
-The passage divides into two. v.1-9, v.10-31
-In v.1-9 Solomon shares with us a rebuke he had received from his mother- a rebuke that includes instruction on what he was supposed to be doing as King
-In v.10-31 Solomon shares with us his mother's instruction on what to look for in a woman and how he was to treat and regard her

2 other introductory things about Proverbs 31

a. Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic built on the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. It serves as the A-Z of the ideal woman. But here is a cautionary note: Our text is not just for women. It's for men and women, for the character espoused is for us all
b. It's important to note that the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31 is perfect because she serves as the embodiment of the wisdom taught throughout the Book of Proverbs. Throughout Proverbs wisdom is often depicted as a woman (in fact Proverbs depicts two women who call out -Proverbs 9. We to heed the voice of the woman wisdom.)

A. SOLOMON'S MOTHER REBUKES AND INSTRUCTS HER SON V.1-9

READ v.1-9 -note ESV very good translation (particularly v.2).

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

2 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? 3 Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.

NOTE. GNT rightfully says "Don't spend all your energy on sex and all your money on women; they have destroyed kings."

"4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink,5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted 6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more."

INTERESTING. In the Message translation it says "Use wine and beer only as sedatives, to kill the pain and dull the ache of the terminally ill, for whom life is a living death.

"8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."

A COUPLE OF THINGS TO NOTE FROM V.1-9

1. The triple exclamation of v.2 "Mah" "What!!!" or "What you are doing?????"

-This really sets the tone for our passage.
-In effect, Solomon is sharing with us a rebuke of his mother to him who was shocked at his behavior as a son- a grown up son (which shows us that parenting and teaching and training our children is a life long endeavor)**

2. Solomon rebuked

a. For being distracted by women and sex. Solomon definitely had a problem here. A problem that took him away from the LORD.
b. For drinking too much. The pursuit of alcohol, the desire to party, the use of drugs etc is a distraction that leads one to forget and flaunt the laws and as his mother says to him who was king "to intercede on behalf of the afflicted" v.5. One can't be drunk and make good decisions.

3. Solomon called upon by his mother to get back to the business of being King- a job which necessitated that he "Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. 9 Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy."


APPLICATION:

1. We need to get a handle on our sex drives and live in a way that honours God.
2. We need to make sure that alcohol and partying don't take over our lives
3. Speaking up for the oppressed and taking care of the poor is our calling
4. PARENTING IS FOR LIFE!


B. NOW WE UNDERSTAND THE TONE OF PROVERBS 31 WE CAN VENTURE INTO THE SECOND HALF OF OUR TEXT

In this second half, Solomon recounts for us what he mother told him to look for in a wife. Given what we know about Solomon and his wives and interactions with womenb, he really needed this counsel and guidance.

READ Proverbs 31:10-31

Some interpretive questions for those who want to go deeper****

a. To what degree does this text address gender roles? What other passages does this text take us to?

Note: When we wrestle with questions like this we must do our level best not to bring our cultural framework to the text- for our culture is messed up and so are we

b. In what ways does this passage positively affirm womanhood/manhood in contrast to our culture?


THINGS A MOM SHOULD TEACH HER SON TO LOOK FOR IN A GIRL

Backstory: Bathsheba speaking! She had come a long way!!! She didn't start out this way and with these thoughts.

1. What to look for in a woman (remembering that this is perspective of this particular text)

Solomon's mother says "instead of chasing the women you have been" this is what you are supposed to look for in a woman

a. A woman who is concerned about your health and your good v.12, v.23. Marriage is not about self and selfishness. In marriage the other person is our constant concern. When we get married the happiness and well being of the other person is our common calling
b. A woman who is industrious and hard working
c. A woman who is capable and educated and strong and a good with money as an investor, and steward- it's interesting- but the woman in question is a woman who could quite easily be just fine on her own (for the woman of ch.31 oversees a large staff). She is not a woman who needs a man- yet at the same her attitude is one of trying to make him look good, she is loyal and does not use her strength to make him nervous that she might "bolt". What's described for us is a committed marriage. In marriage, as depicted in Genesis, Eve came alongside Adam to help him do what he couldn't do on his own. They were a team
d. A woman who is generous to the poor and needy v.20. Our attitude towards the most vulnerable in society says a lot about us
e. A woman is interested in children and family life. v.21-22, 27,28 While I know this is a painful subject for a variety of reasons, our culture views children as an afterthought in marriage. Children are often calculated as an expensive option that one can do with or without. In Genesis 1:28 God says to Adam and Eve "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." It's interesting that God's first command is to have children. If you are thinking about getting married and are of childbearing age and are able (and this is sometimes a challenge) children are not an option, having children- if one is able- is part of God's plan.
f. A woman gentle of speech v.26

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."

While we all struggle with what we say and how we talk at times, when we are looking for a spouse (whether you be a man or woman), look for someone who, most of the time, is given to kind speech. If a person is critical, loud, given to saying rude things- that isn't going away when you get married.

g. A woman of faith. A woman seeking after holiness and righteousness SEE v.30

To be a woman of wisdom is to be a woman of faith in God and ultimately faith in Christ.

If you are looking for a wife, look for a woman of faith in Christ, look for a woman who is seeking after righteousness, who takes holiness seriously, who takes the Bible seriously.


APPLICATION: IT'S AN HONOURABLE THING TO ASCRIBE TO BE A PROVERBS 31 WOMAN


C. PROVERBS 31:10-31 DOES MORE THAN "JUST" TELL US WHAT A MAN SHOULD LOOK FOR IN A WIFE

1. It teaches husbands how they should be towards their wife

-a husband is to encourage his wife, a husband is to support his wife and to lay down his life in sacrifice for her
-a husband is meant to celebrate his wife and speak well of her and do good to her v.28-29
-a husband is to trust his wife with the family money-- no secrets between husbands and wives. We to hold all things in common v.11

Further: While Proverbs 31:10-31 instructs a son on what he should look for in a wife.... WOMEN if you are looking for a husband, look for a guy who loves the Lord. Look for a guy who respects and honors his father and mother. Look for a guy who is generous, kind, not loud. Look for a guy who is hard working. Look for a guy who is interested in children and in living as a family man

Reminder: The target of the text is NOT women. It was first given to a man- a man who deeply flawed as it regarded women


2. Proverbs 31:10-31 reminds children of their duty to honour their mothers (and fathers)

"Her children show their appreciation" v.28

Herein we are reminded of the 10 Commandments and the command for children to honour their fathers and mothers.

3. Because the woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 is wisdom personified, the principles of the text apply to both men and women

i.e When it says"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised". This goes both ways. It applies to men as much as it does to women

Men and women both to be: hardworking, industrious, generous to the poor and needy prepared for the future, appreciative of one another, trusting of each other, concerned with taking care of their families

4. Proverbs 31:10-31 takes us to Jesus

Any shortcomings of character and morality that we identify in ourselves from this text are meant to take us to Christ who is perfect wisdom and who died on the cross for our sins- that we might have the forgiveness of sin and eternal life