Proverbs 31 is one of the most infamous chapters in the Bible, especially for women. It is essentially the litmus test that all Christian women are judged by and compared to. The wish list many men compare potential wives to. But is that truly how this passage was intended?
Over the next week I am going to be taking a closer look at Proverbs 31, and together we will study what God’s real desire is for women. Is Proverbs 31 a blueprint, or is there more to it?
Most of the book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, but some controversy surrounds the authorship of the 31st chapter.
The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him. Proverbs 31:1
No one really knows who King Lemuel really was. Some scholars speculate that is was Solomon, and that Lemuel was a pet name his mother, Bathsheba, gave him. But more modern scholars believe that Lemuel was a foreign king, possibly from the country of Massa. There is no other historical record of a King Lemuel, and no decisive evidence proving the authorship of Proverbs 31.
Whoever King Lemuel was, his mother would have been an aristocratic woman, passing down advice to a ruler. The first 9 verses of Proverbs 31 are some of the most overlooked verses in the Bible. We all know the “Proverbs 31 woman,” but very little mention is made of the “Proverbs 31 man.”
In the first 9 verses Lemuel’s mother pleads with him not to waste his energy on women, not to drink alcohol, and to speak up for the oppressed.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
It is interesting to me that as much as we hear about Proverbs 31, we never hear its message to men. But when you think about the original context of the chapter, the first 9 verses are really the most important part.
The Biblical structure for a home places the husband as the head of the household. So whether that husband is a king, or a plumber, or a telemarketer, if his priorities and spiritual life aren’t where they should be, the entire house will be in chaos. According to this passage compassion is one of the most important traits for a successful leader and husband.
While the first 9 verses are speaking specifically to men, I think the advice that women can take away from them are choosing a husband and mate wisely. Don’t chose a man with a wandering eye, or who is prone to giving into addictions if you want to have the kind of lifestyle described in the rest of the chapter.
Over my next two posts I am going to be taking a closer look at verses 10-3, and what their implications are for Christian women. This is a chapter of the Bible that I haven’t truly dug into before, so I am excited to study it with you.