There has been a lot of talk recently about the lessons learned in Proverbs 31. This final chapter of an epic book of advice and wisdom has resonated in the hearts and souls of thousands, if not millions, of women.
So what's so great about it? What exactly is it about Proverbs 31 that makes the Christian woman stand up and listen?
Proverbs 31 was advice that came from King Lemuel's mother. There is nothing mentioned through the bible about King Lemuel before or after these verses. While some believe that King Lemuel is possibly Solomon, there is no real evidence to back this up that I've seen in my research (Google King Lemuel and look him up in various Bible History books). So no one really knows for certain who this woman is, and why she ended up in Solomon's book of wisdom.
Regardless, her advice has been viewed as quite sound and women from all over the world and of every walk of life seek it out through biblical study.
This week I will start my own journey through this chapter of Proverbs, going slowly, one verse at a time. I will study these words in-depth and see how they apply to my own life. I will also delve a bit into the biblical history behind some of the verses and how they would have applied to Solomon's life as well.
Today, I will skip the first verse which says: "The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:" (Proverbs 31:1 NKJV). This is just an introduction telling who said it, and I've already discussed this in the above paragraphs.
So we go straight to verse 2: "What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows?" (Proverbs 31:2 NKJV)
This sounds to me like what I say to my son on a daily basis: "WHAT??" I wonder if she was frustrated with him, or if she really was that poetic? Since this doesn't seem to have any meat to it either, just a mother responding to her child, I think I'm going to go ahead and skip to the third verse.
Verse 3 is where we start getting into the advice portion. But it is not for a woman! Instead, she tells her son: "Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings" (Proverbs 31:3 NKJV)
There is a lot of room for interpretation in this piece of advice.
"Do not give your strength to women": this one is seemingly sexist, but lets look at the history here: Samson literally GAVE his strength to Delilah (remember the hair cutting indecent?), David also gave himself to a woman and it nearly cost him the kingdom. What I think his mother is saying here is that he should not forsake his own beliefs, what he knows is right, for a woman. If she is going against his Godly convictions, then she is not the woman for him. Rather, he should focus his attentions on a like-minded woman, someone with the same convictions and beliefs that will stand by him and support him fully, so that he can reign with wisdom.
"Nor your ways to that which destroys kings": Well, this is certainly self-explanatory, no? There are many things throughout the Old Testament that destroyed kings: greed, jealousy, lust, drunkenness . . . A king that steers away from these things and lives his life for God will be able to have a long and happy rule as a wise and good king. What mother wouldn't want that for her son?
How does this apply to Solomon? After all, he had enough wives and concubines to keep him busy for a while. But in the bible there is only one that is called by name: Naammah (See 1 Kings 14:21). It is thought that if Solomon wrote the Song of Songs (yes, apparently this is under debate by top biblical scholars) that Naammah may be the one he wrote it about. It is thought that she was the favorite, since she bore him a child. She is also spoken of in other as being a Godly woman of good character in the Bava Kamma (38 B), a book on Jewish law. Perhaps Solomon, after reading or hearing this advice, found Naammah, who was exactly what he was looking for as someone to rule beside him.
How does this apply to our daily lives? One of our main jobs as wives is to focus on loving and supporting our husbands in their endeavors. Our husbands are the spiritual leaders of the home, and it is up to us to encourage that. A good spiritual foundation will help our husbands to be successful. And remember, success is not always a monetary thing, but more of a spiritual thing. Success is based on joy and fulfillment. We can have these things and still be "poor". We should pray for, and with, our husbands daily. Help them to steer away from things "which destroys kings" and lead them to things that will be a fulfillment in their lives.
Next week we'll delve into Verse 4. Thanks for reading!