This final chapter of Proverbs is written by King Lemuel. Like the author of chapter 30, we know basically nothing about King Lemuel from Scriptures or from history. Some historians think this chapter was actually written by Solomon using a pseudonym (pen name). If that were true, then that would make Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) the origin for these sayings. There is no evidence in Scripture that Bathsheba was the author of the words quoted here. Again, the focus is on the proverb’s truths, not on the author.
This chapter is broken into two parts: verses 1-9 are the truths that King Lemuel’s mother taught him, and verses 10-31 is King Lemuel’s mother’s vision of a godly woman. The second part (verses 10-31) is an acrostic, with each verse beginning with the next consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. This language structure would make this section easier to memorize and recite.
In verses 1-9, King Lemuel’s mother teaches him three things:
- Don’t waste your strength on prostitutes (v. 3)
- Don’t get drunk, which will impact your ability to rule well (vv. 4-7)
- Treat people fairly, including the poor and needy (vv. 8-9)
In verses 10-31, King Lemuel’s mother identifies attributes of a godly wife for her son. Reading through these attributes, it’s clear that she is describing a woman who can be head of state as queen, a public official’s wife who actively participates in running the household, and thus the kingdom, setting an example for others.
So what are the attributes of this ideal wife?
- Finding such a woman outlined here is rare, but worth the search (v. 10)
- She has earned the trust and confidence of her husband (v. 11)
- She is a positive force in her husband’s life, not a liability (v. 12)
- She enjoys working with her hands – she is “hands-on” (v. 13)
- She goes out of her way to make sure her family is fed (v. 14)
- She is up early to provide for her family and staff (v. 15)
- She saves and invests, not just spending money (v. 16)
- She physically works hard at whatever she does (v. 17)
- She has confidence in what she produces and creates (v. 18)
- She can do delicate work like tapestries as well as physical labor (v. 19)
- She is kind to the poor and needy (v. 20)
- She prepares well for the winter months (v. 21)
- She decorates her home (v. 22)
- Her husband is prominent and respected in the community (v. 23)
- She is a businesswoman, in an honest trade (clothing) (v. 24)
- She is confident for the present and the future (v. 25)
- She teaches others with wisdom and kindness (v. 26)
- She does not have to work, but chooses to invest her time wisely (v. 27)
- Her husband and children publicly praise her for her character and her accomplishments (vv. 28-29)
The last two verses summarize her focus (the fear of the Lord), and the incredible good that comes from that focus and mindset.
While these character traits are true for a godly wife, they are also true for anyone who fears the Lord and desires to walk with God and honor Him with their lives. Simply stated, this last section of Proverbs 31 is a summary of the wisdom shared across the rest of the preceding chapters. If we desire and work toward these characteristics, starting with the fear of the Lord, we will finish our lives well in honoring God and being a blessing to others.