XXXI An exhortation to Lemuel, ver. 1-9. A description of good wife, ver. 10-31.
Verse 1. Lemuel - Of Solomon, by the general consent both of Jewish and Christian writers; this name signifies one from God, or belonging to God, and such an one was Solomon eminently, being given by God to David and Bathsheba, as a pledge of his reconciliation to them after their repentance. Possibly his mother gave him this name to mind him of his great obligations to God, and of the justice of his devoting himself to God's service.
Verse 2. What - A short speech, arguing her great passion for him; what words shall I take? What counsels shall I give thee? My heart is full, but where shall I begin? Of my womb - My son, not by adoption, but whom I bare in the womb, and therefore it is my duty to give thee admonitions, and thine to receive them. My vows - On whose behalf I have made many prayers and sacrifices, and solemn vows to God; whom I have, as far as in me lay, devoted to the work, and service, and glory of God.
Verse 3. Strength - The vigour of thy mind and body. Ways - Thy conversation, repeated in other words.
Verse 4. To drink - To excess.
Verse 6. To perish - To faint; for such need a cordial.
Verse 8. The dumb - For such as cannot speak in their own cause, either through ignorance, or because of the dread of their more potent adversaries. Destruction - Who, without such succor from the Judges, are like to be utterly ruined.
Verse 10. A virtuous woman - Here he lays down several qualifications of an excellent wife, which are delivered in alphabetical order, each verse beginning with a several letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Verse 11. No need - He shall have no need to use indirect courses to get wealth.
Verse 13. Flax - That she may find employment for her servants. Worketh - She encourages them to work by her example; which was a common practice among princesses in those first ages. Not that it is the duty of kings and queens to use manualoperations, but it is the duty of all persons, the greatest not excepted, to improve all their talents, and particularly their time, which is one of the noblest of them, to the service of that God to whom they must give an account, and to the good of that community to which they are related.
Verse 14. From afar - By the sale of her home-spun commodities she purchases the choicest goods which come from far countries.
Verse 15. Giveth - Distributes all necessary provisions.
Verse 16. Considereth - Whether it be fit for her use. The fruit - With the effects of her diligence. Planteth - She improves the land to the best advantage.
Verse 17. Girdeth - She uses great diligence and expedition in her employment; for which end, men in those times used to gird up their long and loosegarments about their loins. Strengtheneth - Puts forth her utmost strength in her business.
Verse 18. Perceiveth - She finds great comfort in her labours. Her candle - Which is not to be taken strictly, but only signifies her unwearied care and industry.
Verse 19. She layeth - By her own example she provokes her servants to labour. And although in these latter and more delicate times, such mean employments are grown out of fashion among great persons, yet they were not so in former ages, neither in other countries, nor in this land; whence all women unmarried unto this day are called in the language of our law, Spinsters.
Verse 21. Not afraid - Of any injuries of the weather. Are clothed - She hath provided enough, not only for their necessity, but also for their delight and ornament.
Verse 23. It known - Observed and respected, not only for his own worth, but for his wife's sake. Sitteth - In counsel or judgment.
Verse 24. Girdles - Curiously wrought of linen, and gold, or other precious materials.
Verse 25. Strength - Strength of mind, magnanimity, courage, activity. Her clothing - Her ornament and glory. Rejoice - She lives in constant tranquillity of mind, from a just confidence in God's gracious providence.
Verse 26. Openeth her mouth - She is neither sullenly silent, nor full of impertinent talk, but speaks discreetly and piously, as occasion offers. In her tongue - Her speeches are guided by wisdom and grace, and not by inordinate passions. And this practice is called a law in her tongue, because it is constant and customary, and proceeds from an inward and powerful principle of true wisdom.
Verse 27. Looketh well - She diligently observes the management of her domestick business, and the whole carriage of her children and servants.
Verse 30. favour - Comeliness, which commonly gives women favour with those who behold them. Deceitful - It gives a false representation of the person, being often a cover to a deformed soul; it does not give a man that satisfaction, which at first he promised to himself from it; and it is soon lost, not only by death, but by many diseases and contingencies.
Verse 31. Give her - It is but just, that she should enjoy those praises which her labours deserve. Let her works - If men be silent, the lasting effects of her prudence and diligence will trumpet forth her praises. In the gates - In the most publick and solemn assemblies.