New Defender's Study Bible Notes
31:1 king Lemuel. Since there was no king of either Judah or Israel named Lemuel, and since it is very unlikely that this chapter could refer to the king of one of the pagan nations around the children of Israel, it seems probable that Lemuel (meaning “belonging to God”) is simply another name—or title—of King Solomon.
31:1 the prophecy. See note on Proverbs 30:1. The “prophecy” could be understood simply as an “oracle,” inspired of God but not predicting the future. The Hebrew word for “prophecy” here is never so translated elsewhere in the Old Testament, except in Proverbs 30:1. Its usual translation is “burden” (Isaiah 21:1,11-13, etc.). Such a prophecy was a divinely inspired burden which the prophet was constrained to convey to his people.
31:1 his mother. If, as seems probable in context, Lemuel was actually quoting his mother’s teaching, this is one of the few chapters in the Bible written in effect by a woman. See also Judges 5; Luke 1:41-55.
31:7 Let him drink. At first this advice seems to contradict such prohibitions as in Proverbs 23:31. However, it is obvious in context that the “advice” is given in irony, to those who have drifted so far from God as to be “appointed to destruction” anyway (Proverbs 31:8).
31:10 Who. The twenty-two verses describing the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31) comprise an acrostic, with each successive verse beginning with the appropriate letter of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
31:10 virtuous. The adjective “virtuous” (Hebrew chagil) is only translated “virtuous” when describing women (Ruth 3:11; Proverbs 12:4). The word much more commonly means “strength,” “power,” etc. The woman of this chapter is not merely virtuous in morals, but is a woman of great strength of character and physical energy.
31:28 arise up. Her family gives her a “standing” ovation, as it were. The “virtuous woman” stands in diametric contrast to the “strange woman,” mentioned often in Proverbs.
31:30 woman that feareth the LORD. What a wonderful contrast to the “evil woman” (Proverbs 6:24), the “foolish woman” (Proverbs 9:13), the “brawling woman” (Proverbs 21:9) the “contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:19), the “odious woman” (Proverbs 30:23), the “whorish woman” (Proverbs 6:26) and especially the “strange woman” (see note on Proverbs 2:16).
31:31 Give. Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, and the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs has thirty-one verses. Many people, especially Christian businessmen, have found it helpful to read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs each successive day of the month.