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Inspired Word

31 King Lemuel’s[a] royal words of wisdom:
    These are the inspired words my mother taught me.[b]
Listen, my dear son, son of my womb.
    You are the answer to my prayers, my son.
So keep yourself sexually pure
    from the promiscuous, wayward woman.
    Don’t waste the strength of your anointing
    on those who ruin kings—
    you’ll live to regret it![c]
For you are a king, Lemuel,
    and it’s never fitting for a king to be drunk on wine
    or for rulers to crave alcohol.
For when they drink they forget justice
    and ignore the rights of those in need,
    those who depend on them for leadership.
6–7 Strong drink is given to the terminally ill,
    who are suffering at the brink of death.
    Wine is for those in depression
    in order to drown their sorrows.
    Let them drink and forget their poverty and misery.
But you are to be a king who speaks up on behalf
    of the disenfranchised
    and pleads for the legal rights of the defenseless
    and those who are dying.
Be a righteous king, judging on behalf of the poor
    and interceding for those most in need.[d]

The Radiant Bride

10 Who could ever find a wife like this one[e]
    she is a woman of strength and mighty valor![f]
    She’s full of wealth and wisdom.
    The price paid for her was greater[g] than many jewels.
11 Her husband has entrusted his heart to her,[h]
    for she brings him the rich spoils of victory.
12 All throughout her life she brings him what is good and not evil.[i]
13 She searches out continually to possess
    that which is pure and righteous.[j]
    She delights in the work of her hands.[k]
14 She gives out revelation-truth[l] to feed others.
    She is like a trading ship bringing divine supplies[m]
    from the merchant.[n]
15 Even in the night season[o] she arises[p] and sets food on the table
    for hungry ones in her house and for others.[q]
16 She sets her heart upon a field[r] and takes it as her own.
    She labors there to plant the living vines.[s]
17 She wraps herself in strength,[t] might, and power in all her works.
18 She tastes and experiences a better substance,[u]
    and her shining light will not be extinguished,
    no matter how dark the night.[v]
19 She stretches out her hands to help the needy[w]
    and she lays hold of the wheels of government.[x]
20 She is known by her extravagant generosity to the poor,
    for she always reaches out her hands[y] to those in need.
21 She is not afraid of tribulation,[z]
    for all her household is covered in the dual garments[aa]
    of righteousness and grace.
22 Her clothing is beautifully knit together[ab]
    a purple gown of exquisite linen.
23 Her husband is famous and admired by all,
    sitting as the venerable judge of his people.[ac]
24 Even her works of righteousness[ad]
    she does[ae] for the benefit of her enemies.[af]
25 Bold power and glorious majesty[ag] are wrapped around her
    as she laughs with joy over the latter days.[ah]
26 Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness
    as loving instruction pours from her lips.[ai]
27 She watches over the ways of her household[aj]
    and meets every need they have.
28 Her sons and daughters arise[ak] in one accord to extol her virtues,[al]
    and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms.[am]
29 “There are many valiant and noble ones,[an]
    but you have ascended above them all!”[ao]
30 Charm can be misleading,
    and beauty is vain and so quickly fades,
    but this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe,
    and fear of the Lord.
    She will be praised throughout eternity.
31 So go ahead and give her the credit that is due,
    for she has become a radiant woman,
    and all her loving works of righteousness deserve to be admired
    at the gateways of every city![ap]

Footnotes

  1. 31:1 Jewish legend is that King Lemuel was a pseudonym for Solomon, which would make his mother mentioned here to be Bathsheba. There is no other mention of Lemuel in the Scriptures. The Hebrew word translated “inspired words” is massa, which some have surmised was a place, meaning “Lemuel, King of Massa.”
  2. 31:1 The Septuagint is “These are words spoken by God, and through a king came an answer divine.”
  3. 31:3 As translated from the Septuagint.
  4. 31:9 See James 1:27.
  5. 31:10 Starting with verse 10 through the end of the book, we have a Hebrew acrostic poem. It is alphabetical in structure, with each of the twenty-two verses beginning with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The implication is that the perfections of this woman would exhaust the entire language. The subject is the perfect bride, the virtuous woman. This woman is both a picture of a virtuous wife and an incredible allegory of the end-time victorious bride of Jesus Christ, full of virtue and grace.
  6. 31:10 The Hebrew word used to describe this virtuous wife is khayil. The meaning of this word cannot be contained by one English equivalent word. It is often used in connection with military prowess. This is a warring wife. Khayil can be translated “mighty;” “wealthy;” “excellent;” “morally righteous;” “full of substance, integrity, abilities, and strength;” “mighty like an army.” The wife is a metaphor for the last-days church, the virtuous, overcoming bride of Jesus Christ. The word khayil is most often used to describe valiant men. See Ex. 18:21, where it is used for the mighty ones Moses was to commission as elders and leaders among the people. Because many of the cultural terms and metaphors used in this passage are not understood or even used in today’s English-speaking world, this translation makes them explicit.
  7. 31:10 Or “her worth.” The price paid for her was the sacred blood of the Lamb of God, her Bridegroom.
  8. 31:11 Or “has great confidence in her.”
  9. 31:12 The virtuous bride will not bring disgrace to his name. Jesus will not be ashamed to display her to the world.
  10. 31:13 Or “wool and linen [flax].” Wool is a metaphor often used as a symbol of what is pure. See Isa. 1:18; Dan. 7:9; Rev. 1:14. Linen was made from flax and always speaks of righteousness. The priests of the Old Testament wore linen garments as they went before God’s presence to offer sacrifices. The curtains of the tabernacle were likewise made of linen, signifying God’s righteousness. See Ex. 28:39–43 and Rev. 19:8. The virtuous bride of Christ in the last days will be seeking for only what is pure and righteous in the eyes of her Bridegroom.
  11. 31:13 Or “eagerly works with her hands.” The hands, with their five fingers, speak of the five ministries of the present work of Christ on the earth: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These are often referred to as the five-fold ministries. Her delight is to equip others and help those in need.
  12. 31:14 Or “bread.” This is a consistent emblem of spiritual food.
  13. 31:14 Or “supplies from far away.” The implication is that the supplies come from another realm. She is bringing heavenly manna for those she feeds.
  14. 31:14 Or “like merchant ships bringing goods.” Like a ship loaded with cargo, the bride of Christ brings heavenly treasures to others. The use of the term merchant points to Jesus Christ. He is described as a merchant in Matt. 13:45 in the parable of the extraordinary pearl. The “pearl” is the church or the believer, which cost all that Jesus had (his blood) to purchase us.
  15. 31:15 She is interceding in the night, laboring in a night season to help others.
  16. 31:15 The Hebrew word translated “arise” can also mean “to rise up in power.” We are told to “rise up in splendor and be radiant, for your light has dawned” in Isa. 60:1, which uses the same Hebrew word for “arise.” The bride of Christ will arise with anointing to feed and bless the people of God.
  17. 31:15 Or “female servants.” The servants are a metaphor for other churches and ministries.
  18. 31:16 Or “a land” or “a country.”
  19. 31:16 Or “By the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” (The Septuagint is “possession.”) For “hands,” see the second footnote for v. 13. This vineyard becomes a metaphor for the local church. We are the branches of the Vine (Christ). See John 15:1–8. She is passionate about bringing forth fruit. She becomes a missionary to the nations, planting churches and bringing new life.
  20. 31:17 Or “She girds her loins with strength and makes her shoulders strong.” This is a figure of speech for being anointed with power to do the works of Jesus. See John 14:12.
  21. 31:18 Or “good merchandise.”
  22. 31:18 Her prayer life (“light”) overcomes her circumstances, even in a culture where darkness prevails.
  23. 31:19 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew uses a term for “distaff” (a weaver’s staff), which is taken from a root word for “prosperity.” The poetic nuance of this phrase is that she uses her prosperity to bless the needy.
  24. 31:19 Or “Her hands grasp the spindle.” The word translated as “spindle” can also mean “governmental circuits” or “wheels.” There is a hint here of the wheels mentioned in Ezek. 1. The throne of God’s government sits on flaming wheels. See Dan. 7:9.
  25. 31:20 Notice the mention of her hands. See the second footnote for v. 13.
  26. 31:21 Or “snow.” This is a figure of speech for the fear of a cold winter season.
  27. 31:21 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “everyone is covered in scarlet [blood].” Grace has brought righteousness to those in her house (under her ministry).
  28. 31:22 This clothing speaks of the ministries of the body of Christ, woven and knit together by the Holy Spirit. See Eph. 4:15–16 and Col. 2:2.
  29. 31:23 Or “sitting at the city gates among the elders of the land.” Judgment was rendered at the gates of a city in that day. It was their courtroom. Our heavenly King is also the Judge. So famous, so glorious, yet he is our Bridegroom.
  30. 31:24 Or “linen.” See the second footnote for v. 13 regarding linen as a symbol for righteousness.
  31. 31:24 Or “sells them.” The root word for “sell” can also mean “surrender.”
  32. 31:24 Or “aprons or belts for the Canaanites.” The Canaanites were the traditional enemies of the Hebrews.
  33. 31:25 Or “Beauty, honor, and excellence.”
  34. 31:25 The virtuous and victorious bride has no fear for the days to come. She contemplates eternity and her forever union with the Bridegroom.
  35. 31:26 The Septuagint is “she opens her mouth carefully and lawfully.”
  36. 31:27 Or “She is a watchman over her house [family].”
  37. 31:28 The Hebrew word translated “arise” can also mean “to rise up with power.” The Septuagint is “She raises her children so they will grow rich.”
  38. 31:28 Or “Hooray, hooray for our mother!”
  39. 31:28 For more of how the heavenly Bridegroom loves his bride, read the Song of Songs.
  40. 31:29 Or “Many daughters have obtained wealth because of her.” These valiant and noble ones (daughters) represent the church of previous generations who remained faithful in their pursuit of Jesus. But this final generation will be the bridal company of the lovers of God who do mighty exploits and miracles on the earth.
  41. 31:29 Or “you are first in his eyes.” See Song. 6:8–9.
  42. 31:31 The Septuagint could be translated “her husband is praised at the city gates.”