What do you see or understand when you read Proverbs 31?
Is it about the qualities and characteristics of a virtuous woman?
Is it all about how to recognize “wife-materials”?
If those are your preoccupations and key ideas of Proverbs 31, then you either did not study the chapter holistically or like most of us (I used to believe so until today), you study it close-mindedly. I have always believed that Proverbs 31 is the chapter to study as a man look for a “wife material” or that is good for a woman that wants to live an honorable life. I never knew that it was a very loaded scripture for both alike. The underlining problem is that we have historically focused on the last 22 verses and completely ignore the first 9 key verses. Funny enough, the book is an embodiment of some pieces of advice, prophesies and instructions, from a loving mother to a cherished son. So in this write-up, I will explore the first 9 verses that directly speak to and address the recipient of the prophesy, King Lemuel.
Why Are The First 9 Verses Important?
These are very important to the man because it gives him a sense of direction on how to live an honorable life. Someone once said that ‘you attract the equivalent of your most dominant thoughts’. Someone also says that ‘you attract who you are’. This means that if you as a man wants a virtuous woman, you need to be a virtuous man. This I believe is one of the reasons why she (King Lemuel’s mom) spent the first 9 verses addressing him.
First Advice: “Do Not Give Your Strength To Women” – this is a very significant piece of advice. She is advising him against promiscuity. From this, we learn that as a man, you lose your strength by moving from one girl or lady to another. There is a loss of virility in every act of promiscuity. You are killing yourself feeling that you are ‘enjoying’. That is a grossly irresponsible and dishonorable lifestyle.
Second Advice: “Nor Your Ways To That Which Destroy Kings” – there are numerous things that can destroy or that have destroyed great kings. One of them is polygamy. Let us use King Solomon as the case note here. He is said to be “beloved of God” (Nehemiah 13:26), and God Himself described as the “wisest man ever” (1 Kings 3:12, 4:30). but despite his unmatched wisdom, honor, power, and influence, was destroyed by polygamy and being unequally yoked with unbelievers (Deuteronomy 17:17, Nehemiah 13:26-27, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Kings 11:1-13).
Third Advice: “It Is Not For Kings To Drink Wine, Nor Princes Strong Drink” (verse4) – alcohol is strictly forbidden for people in positions of authority. And as you know, we are all in positions of authority but in different capacities. While some have a wider influence, some have much smaller influence or jurisdiction. For example, an elder sibling is responsible for his/her younger ones (small), a parent for the family (large), a king for his kingdom (larger), CEO for his company and employees, President/Prime Minister for the country (much larger jurisdiction). Although it seems that the parent’s or elder sibling’s action is of lesser influence but in reality, it is one of the most significant roles. This is because the family is the backbone of the society and the most important agent of socialization. She (Lemuel’s mom) prohibits him from alcoholism because alcohol can lead to forgetfulness of the law, misguided actions and perversion of justice for the afflicted. Also, wine is for “him who is ready to perish”(v6). According to a commentary, alcohol or wine is given to condemned criminals to be crucified in order to lessen the pain of their suffering. This is why it was offered to Jesus Christ while on the cross (Matthew 27:34 http://biblehub.com/commentaries/proverbs/31-6.htm) which He rejected. Alcohol to them is like an anesthesia. Remember the story of Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:33). Alcohol enslaves the heart (Hosea 4:11).
Fourth Advice: “Open Your Mouth For The Speechless” (verse8) – for you to be an honorary or virtuous man, you need to be the voice of the voiceless. Stand up, speak out and defend those who cannot speak for themselves. There are numerous people suffering all over the world not because they have done something wrong but because they could not speak for or defend themselves. Be the ‘eye to the blind and leg to the lame’. Be their advocate (Psalms 82, Job 29:15).
Fifth Advice: “Judge Righteously, And Plead The Cause Of The Poor And Needy” (verse9) – judge fairly without partiality. Give the right judgment to people irrespective of their status, background or age. Do not ‘respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbors (Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 1:16). Remember God is ‘no respecter of persons’ and He has made us in His own image and likeness. We are charged to be like God in all ramification.
Application of these five pieces of advice in your daily life makes you a virtuous and honorable man and qualifies you to proceed to the next 18 verses in search for the virtuous woman. The conclusion of this write-up is a charge or message to the future me or the man who has found his virtuous wife. Let you heart trust her. Honor and praise her. Teach your children to rise up and call her blessed. Give her the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates (do not take glory for her work) (v28-31).
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING OUT TIME TO READ.
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TILL NEXT NOTE: JESUS BLESS!
CHRISTIAN G. OKWUDIWA
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