Proverbs Devotional Experience

Proverbs 31

We come now to the last chapter of Proverbs attributed to the author King Lemuel (1). Little is known of him, but he was likely a foreign king with a godly mother whose advice he honored enough to write down that it might be remembered. A king's mother was often respected more than a king's wives, likely due to a king’s having only one mother, which was not necessarily true of his wives.

He opens his proverbs with a call to refrain from immoral behavior and sexual impulses (2-3). Next, he calls to his son to conquer addiction to alcohol. This appeal applies to any leader, not to give him/herself to alcohol yet to practice sensitivity in relationship to those who perish, for their need of drink is obvious (4-7). Lastly, she calls for him to be a defender of the poor and helpless, to make sure they are not taken advantage of (8-9).

After giving a great deal of attention to unfaithful women, the Proverbs ends with what a faithful wife looks like. This portion of the book is twenty-two verses in length, each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet; thus it is in an acrostic form lost to the English reader.

Some consider this section to be a handbook for a husband on finding a good wife or for a wife on becoming a good wife, while still others consider the wife here to be a metaphor for wisdom.

While there are many ways to look at this portion of Proverbs, let me simply arrange it in a chiasmus for easy contrast and comparison, for certainly the subjects are repeated in the first and bottom half of this acrostic.

A. A good wife is of great value (10)

B. A husband is enriched by a good wife (11-12)

 C. A virtuous wife is industrious and works hard (13-19)

  D. A virtuous wife is kind to the poor (20)

E. She has no fear of present difficulties (21)

    F. She dresses herself with beauty (22)

  G. Her husband is respected (23)

    F. She dresses others for profit (24)

E. She has no fear of future unpredictability (25)

  D. A virtuous wife is kind with her words (20)

 C. A virtuous wife suffers nothing due to laziness (27)

B. A husband praises her (29-29)

A. A good wife should be greatly rewarded (30-31)