1. On the title of this, the sixth part of the book, see Introduction.
prophecy -- (See on Pr 30:1).
2. What, my son? -- that is, What shall I say? Repetitions denote earnestness.
son of my womb -- as our phrase, |my own son,| a term of special affection.
son of my vows -- as one dedicated to God; so the word |Lemuel| may mean.
3-9. Succinct but solemn warnings against vices to which kings are peculiarly tempted, as carnal pleasures and oppressive and unrighteous government are used to sustain sensual indulgence.
strength -- mental and bodily resources for health and comfort.
thy ways -- or course of life.
to that ... kings -- literally, |to the destroying of kings,| avoid destructive pleasures (compare Pr 5:9; 7:22, 27; Ho 4:11).
4, 5. Stimulants enfeeble reason, pervert the heart, and do not suit rulers, who need clear and steady minds, and well-governed affections (compare Pr 20:1; 22:29).
pervert ... afflicted -- They give unrighteous decisions against the poor.
6, 7. The proper use of such drinks is to restore tone to feeble bodies and depressed minds (compare Ps 104:15).
8, 9. Open ... cause -- Plead for those who cannot plead for themselves, as the orphan, stranger, &c. (compare Ps 72:12; Isa 1:17).
appointed to destruction -- who are otherwise ruined by their oppressors (compare Pr 29:14, 16).
10-31. This exquisite picture of a truly lovely wife is conceived and drawn in accordance with the customs of Eastern nations, but its moral teachings suit all climes. In Hebrew the verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order (compare Introduction to Poetical Books).
Who ... woman -- The question implies that such are rare, though not entirely wanting (compare Pr 18:22; 19:14).
virtuous -- literally, |of strength,| that is, moral courage (compare Pr 12:4; Ru 3:11).
her price, &c. -- (compare Pr 3:15).
11. heart ... trust in her -- He relies on her prudence and skill.
no need of spoil -- does not lack profit or gain, especially, that obtained by the risk of war.
12. do ... good -- contribute good to him.
13, 14. Ancient women of rank thus wrought with their hands; and such, indeed, were the customs of Western women a few centuries since. In the East also, the fabrics were articles of merchandise.
15. She diligently attends to expending as well as gathering wealth;
16. and hence has means to purchase property.
17, 18. To energy she adds a watchfulness in bargains, and a protracted and painful industry. The last clause may figuratively denote that her prosperity (compare Pr 24:20) is not short lived.
19. No work, however mean, if honest, is disdained.
20. Industry enables her to be charitable.
21. scarlet -- or, |purple,| by reason of the dyes used, the best fabrics; as a matter of taste also; the color suits cold.
22. coverings of tapestry -- or, |coverlets,| that is, for beds.
silk -- or, |linen| (compare Ex 26:1; 27:9)
and purple -- that is, the most costly goods.
23. in the gates -- (compare Pr 22:22). His domestic comfort promotes his advancement in public dignity.
24. fine linen -- or, |linen shirts,| or the material for them.
girdles -- were often costly and highly valued (2Sa 18:11).
delivereth -- or, |giveth as a present| or |to sell.|
25. Strength and honour -- Strong and beautiful is her clothing; or, figuratively, for moral character, vigorous and honorable.
shall rejoice ... come -- in confidence of certain maintenance.
26. Her conversation is wise and gentle.
27. (Compare 1Ti 5:14; Tit 2:5). She adds to her example a wise management of those under her control.
28. She is honored by those who best know her.
29. The words are those of her husband, praising her.
virtuously -- (Compare Pr 31:10).
30. Favour -- or, |Grace| of personal manner.
beauty -- of face, or form (compare Pr 11:22). True piety alone commands permanent respect and affection (1Pe 3:3).
31. The result of her labor is her best eulogy. Nothing can add to the simple beauty of this admirable portrait. On the measure of its realization in the daughters of our own day rest untold results, in the domestic, and, therefore, the civil and religious, welfare of the people.