Posted by: biblestudyseattle | November 7, 2014

King Lemuel

“The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:
What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Description of a Worthy Woman
An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:1-31

No one knows for certain who this king Lemuel is, but many take him to be Solomon, and his mother Bathsheba. The beginning of this passage is almost a lament for a son who has gone astray with wine and bad women. It concludes with the description of the ideal wife, which is admittedly very rare. She is full of diligence, getting things done productively rather than puttering around aimlessly. She manages her house supremely. She is truly humble. She does not nag or try to control her husband with her agenda, but truly submits to him. She in fact is a model of the true church, full of faith and good works. Bathsheba wishes that Solomon had made a much better choice of wife, in the same way that God the Father is very picky in selecting a wife for his Son Jesus. One wonders if Solomon in all his riches and glory and sex, was driven to drink. His dispare and lament comes out in Ecclesiastes:

“Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered:

“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
while I was still searching
but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman among them all.” Ecclesiastes 7:27-28

Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines. And he said he found not a woman among the thousand that was righteous. Ouch. No wonder Bathsheba wished it had gone better for him. No wonder the scriptures declare:

“He who finds a [good] wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

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