Summary Proverbs 30:
God’s word is flawless. Agur asks to be neither rich nor poor, so he can rely on God continually. Agur rails against those who have cursed their mother and father. He lists things that are never satisfied, that are too amazing, that are small and wise and stately.
Summary Proverbs 31:
King Lemuel advises against spending strength on women and beer. He says to speak up for those who can’t. He lists the wife of noble character who is priceless, who provides for her family, who works vigorously, who helps the poor, speaks with wisdom, watches over the house, is never idle, and fears the Lord.
BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 25, Day 5: Proverbs 30 and 31:
12) Personal Question. My answer: I like the ants who store up food for winter. They are also hard workers. And the eagle in the sky. I love eagles as if I ever had the chance to be an animal for a day, I’d pick a raptor for sure.
13a) Personal Question. My answer: She is priceless, who provides for her family, who works vigorously, who helps the poor, speaks with wisdom, watches over the house, is never idle, and fears the Lord.
b) These are daily tasks we all do that we take for granted. We need to realize all that we do and be thankful for it and for God’s strength to do it.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 25 Day 5: Proverbs 30 and 31:
Very similar to yesterday’s questions. I personally did not like these two passages (except the Wife of Noble Character) as they don’t seem aligned with what we are studying and Proverbs 30 was more of Agur listing things he didn’t understand in life, rather than teaching us anything.
End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 25, Day 5: Proverbs 30 and 31:
Commentary Proverbs 30:
Proverbs 30 is a collection of wisdom from a man known only to this chapter of the Bible. When the men of Hezekiah gathered additional material for Proverbs (Proverbs 25:1), they added these words of Agur. We have no other mention of Agur the son of Jakeh.
Solomon wasn’t the only man of wisdom in his day or afterward. Other men of wisdom beside Solomon are described in 1 Kings 4:30-31
Proverbs 30:4: In a section that sounds much like Job 38-39, Agur called men and women to understand their limitations in understanding God and His creation. The wise and humble answer to each of these questions is, God, and not man.
Agur knew there was something special about the Son of God. We don’t know to what extent he prophetically anticipated the Messiah, God the Son, Jesus Christ – but Agur knew that God had a Son, and the Son had a name.
Proverbs 30:5-6: God’s word is pure and is a shield.
Proverbs 30:7-9: Agur wanted to be a man of integrity, and he wanted to be satisfied with God’s provision in his life.
Proverbs 30:10: Don’t speak ill of someone or he or she can curse you.
Proverbs 30:14: The generation filled with greed devours everything as if their teeth were swords and their fangs like knives.
Proverbs 30:15: “Personifies the blood-sucking horseleech, which had two sucking organs at each end (one to such blood, the other to attach itself to its host), as a mother of two (see v. 7) daughters. This leech could be found in all stale waters of Palestine and attached itself above all in nostrils and palate of drinking horses.” (Waltke)
As was with the pattern back at Proverbs 6:16, the formula three and then four implies that the list is specific but not exhaustive.
Proverbs 30:18-19: There are things that are too wonderful for our complete understanding; things we should simply be amazed at and a bit humbled in the presence of.
The power of young love and its desire seems that it would overwhelm both a man and a virgin, but they marry and make a productive life together.
Proverbs 30:20: Agur presented his wisdom in proverbs to his son or a young man. Surely this proverb also applies to the adulterous man, but because of his audience he has first in view the way of the adulterous woman.
Once before in Proverbs, eating was used as a symbol of sexual activity (Proverbs 9:17)
Proverbs 30:21-23: Agur did not mean a man with a servant’s heart like Jesus would later perfectly display. He meant a man with a servile, debased mind, who thought and lived as a slave instead of a free man. It is unbearable when such a man reigns.
“A servant who gains authority over others has neither the training nor disposition to rule well.” (Garrett)
Food gives a fool only more energy to be a fool.
Hateful women should not marry.
This case is similar to the previously described servant when he reigns. When the social order is upset and unworthy ones dominate the culture, it becomes unbearable.
“The tension from the threat of Hagar in Genesis 16:5 and 21:10 shows how unbearable this could be.” (Ross)
Proverbs 30:24-28: Size doesn’t determine wisdom. Hard work can overcome individual weakness. Rock badgers are also known as marmots don’t have the speed or strength to stand against a large predator, especially one with sharp teeth. Find refuge among the strong. Teamwork can win the day.
Some translations have a spider instead of a lizard. . Using your gifts and unique skills can take you anywhere.
Proverbs 30:29-31: . Using your gifts and unique skills can take you anywhere. Some translations say greyhound instead of rooster.
As surely as the churning of milk produces butter and as surely as wringing the nose produces blood, so the expressions of wrath will make for conflict and strife.
THEME OF PROVERBS 30: “So the intent of this concluding advice is to strive for peace and harmony through humility and righteousness.” (Ross)
Commentary Proverbs 31:
As with Agur in Proverbs 39, we don’t know anything about King Lemuel. He is not in any recorded list of the kings of Judah or Israel, so he was probably a pagan king who put his trust in Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, and through the fear of the LORD learned wisdom.
The name Lemuel means, belonging to God. There was no king of Israel (or Judah) with this name, so either he was a foreign king, or it is a pen name for the author.
Proverbs 31:2-3: “A child born after vows made for offsprings is called the child of a person’s vows.” (Clarke)
The sense is that an excessive sexual interest in women wastes a man’s strength. This speaks of an unhealthy obsession with romance or sex, which have a proper place in life, but should not be made into a reason for living. The practice of sexual immorality and sex obsession gives away a man’s strength, in the sense of his spiritual strength, his self-respect, his self-control, his example, and standing in the community.
Both men and women need to remain faithful to God in regard to sex and romance, or they will give away their strength.
“The point of the verse is that while it would be easy for a king to spend his time and energy enjoying women, that would be unwise.” (Ross)
Proverbs 31:4-7: The Carthaginians made a law that no magistrate of theirs should drink wine. The Persians permitted their kings to be drunk one day in a year only. Solon made a law at Athens that drunkenness in a prince should be punished with death. See Ecclesiastes 10:16-17
Kings should not drink because it does impair thinking ability and because they could make a fool of themselves. The responsibilities of a king are so great that it is essential that he not be impaired in his judgment or abilities in any way. This principle is true not only for kings, but for leaders of many types, including and especially those who consider themselves leaders among God’s people today.
“We have already seen, that inebriating drinks were mercifully given to condemned criminals, to render them less sensible of the torture they endured in dying. This is what was offered to our Lord; but he refused it.” (Clarke)
Proverbs 30:8-9: Proverbs 31:1-9 raises an important question. Being a leader means some level of position and power. Will you use it indulge yourself (here the indulgence is women and wine, Proverbs 31:3-7), or will you use your position and power to protect and benefit those you lead (as in Proverbs 31:8-9)
The Wife of Noble Character
The 22 verses (Proverbs 31:10-31) each begin with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This acrostic construction was used in several psalms (such as Psalms 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 11, 112, 119, and 145 and Lamentations 4). The purpose was to make the passage memorable (easier to memorize), and to express poetic skill. This is, “An Alphabet of Wifely Excellence” (Kidner)
These verses are spoken by a woman to a man so he could know the character and potential character of a good wife before marriage, and value and praise his wife for her virtuous character once married. It is primarily a search-list for a man, and only secondarily a check-list for a woman.
What is purpose of the wife of noble character passage?
- This passage describes the kind of wife the Christian man should pray for and seek after.
- This passage gives a guide, a goal for the Christian woman, showing the kind of character she can have as she fears and follows the Lord.
- This passage reminds the Christian man that he must walk in the fear and wisdom of God so that he will be worthy of and compatible with such a virtuous woman.
Virtuous wife is the same expression translated mighty man of valor in Judges (as in Judges 6:12).
The word strength in Proverbs 31:17 is used in other places for great and heroic victories (as in Exodus 15:2 and 1 Samuel 2:10).
The word gain in Proverbs 31:11 is actually the word for plunder (as in Isaiah 8:1 and 8:3).
The expression excel them all in Proverbs 31:29 “is an expression that signifies victory.” (Ross)
What is this passage on the virtuous woman telling us?
The qualities of this virtuous wife as described in Proverbs 31:11-31 are often mentioned in previous Proverbs. As a whole, the Proverbs have much to say about wisdom, diligent work ethic, wise business practices, honorable speech, compassion for the poor, and integrity; here those same qualities are explained in connection to a virtuous wife. Coming at the end of the collection of Proverbs, one might say that this is a strong woman – and her greatest strength is her wisdom, rooted in the fear of the LORD.
Precious gems like rubies are both valued and rare. In a sense, the complete profile of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” is an ideal goal, much as the listing of the character of the godly man for leadership in both 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1. It would be rare to find a woman who excels in every aspect of the list, so it should not be used to compare or condemn either one’s self or another woman. Rather, these character traits should reflect the values and aspiration of the woman who walks in the fear of the LORD and godly wisdom.
Wisdom itself is also described as being more valuable than rubies (as in Proverbs 3:15 and 8:11). This is one reason why some think this description of the virtuous wife in Proverbs is more a poetic description of wisdom as woman (as in Proverbs 1:20-33 and 7:4-5). “Since it is essentially about wisdom, its lessons are for both men and women to develop. The passage teaches that the fear of the Lord will inspire people to be faithful stewards of the time and talents that God has given; that wisdom is productive and beneficial for others, requiring great industry in life’s endeavors; that wisdom is best taught and lived in the home.” (Ross)
Proverbs 30:11-12: Her character is trustworthy, filled with integrity.
“Outside of this text and Judges 20:36, Scripture condemns trust in anyone or anything apart from God. This present exception elevates the valiant wife, who herself fears the Lord, to the highest level of spiritual and physical competence.” (Waltke)
What is the greatest gift of God?
“The greatest gift of God is a pious amiable spouse who fears God and loves his house, and with whom one can live in perfect confidence.” (Martin Luther’s description of his wife, cited in Bridges)
She brings gain to her husband on many levels, and in great measure (no lack).
Gain“usually means ‘plunder’; the point may be that the gain will be as rich and bountiful as the spoils of war.” (Ross)
Proverbs 30:13-16: Here, we see just how many different kinds of work are involved in wisely and properly managing a home. Women can take comfort and confidence in God’s recognition of just how big their job is.
It wasn’t uncommon for many families in Biblical times to have servants or hired workers. The virtuous wife wisely manages and cares for such maidservants, showing her compassion and care even beyond her immediate family.
The virtuous wife is forward thinking.
Proverbs 31:17-20: The idea of “girding” one’s self – setting a strengthening belt around the midsection – “means to get ready for some ‘kind of heroic or difficult action,’ such as hard running (1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29), escape from Egypt (Exodus 12:11), or physical labor (Proverbs 31:17).” (Waltke)
The distaff is a stick or spindle onto which wool or flax is wound for spinning, and she uses both hands to do the work well.
Proverbs 31:21-23: The scarlet color of the clothing makes her children easy to find in heavy snow, but given the relatively light snowfall in that part of the world, this is unlikely. It is possible that this does not describe a color, but doubly thick garments.
The virtuous wife makes good things for herself.
The virtuous wife is such a blessing on her family and household that her husband is also esteemed and honored among the elders of the land. All this is the blessing of God that comes from a wife who walks in virtue, wisdom, and fear of the LORD.
What to look for in a woman
Proverbs 31:30: “Charm and beauty are not bad; they simply are inadequate reasons to marry a girl. The young man should first seek a woman who fears the Lord. And whoever finds such a woman should make sure that her gifts and accomplishments do not go unappreciated.” (Garrett)
Proverbs begins with a strong connection between wisdom and the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:7). Here the collection ends describing the virtuous wife as filled with the wisdom, beauty, and charm that marks a woman who fears the LORD.