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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 31
Sayings of King Lemuel
31 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Today we’ve made it to the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs, the infamous Proverbs 31. This chapter of the Bible is well-known for great reason as it includes the description of the wife of noble character (v. 10-31). The chapter is often quoted and referenced in describing what has come to be known as the “Proverbs 31 Woman.”
The first nine verses include a challenge from a mother to her son when she encourages him to defend the rights of the afflicted and to speak up for those who cannot speak for or defend themselves. This is certainly not just appropriate for King Lemuel and those in leadership, but rather for every one of us to speak up for those who need a voice. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the wife of noble character who is hard to find and priceless and of great value. While the passage describes a godly wife, there’s so much for us all to learn from this chapter. Whether you are male or female, old or young, married or single, student or grandparent, take note of some of the characteristics we can all strive for in life and character.
First, we see how hard she works (i.e., v. 13, 15, 17). Contrast this with the sluggard seen many times in prior chapters of Proverbs. She’s not idle, she rises early, and she stays up late. How are you doing at your work? Whatever season of life you’re in, would others say you work hard?
Second, we see how well she serves those around her. She serves her family (v. 15) and “extends her hands to the needy” (v. 20). When we serve like this woman, we serve like Jesus who did not come to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45).
Third, we see how faithful the woman is in all she does. She plants a vineyard (v.16), planning for the future. Bad weather doesn’t hold her or her family back because she’s faithfully planned ahead (v. 21). In doing this, she’s like our Lord who, even when we’re faithless, is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
Last, and we could say much more about her, she fears the Lord. We see repeatedly in the book of Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. She is extraordinarily wise in every way. Again, every one of us has much we can learn from this wife of noble character.
- How do you do at speaking out for those who have no voice or cannot defend themselves (v. 8-9)?
- What’s one way you can grow as you follow Jesus—working harder, serving others, faithfulness, or your fear of the Lord?
- Who is someone you know who exemplifies what the wife of noble character looks like? Send them a text and encourage them for their faithfulness.
JP preached a sermon at The Porch at Watermark Community Church on Proverbs 31 called “Six Qualities to Look For In a Wife”. Whether you’re male or female, single or married, check out this great sermon to learn more about Proverbs 31.
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4 thoughts on “Proverbs 31”
Today we have ice, winter storm, here. This is something we do get at least once a year but really are never prepared for. Work and schools are shut down. In a wonderful way it is a time to slow down. Be with family, come together, maybe play games or have discussion on staying warm. It is a time to pray for those who have little or no warmth or shelter, to be thankful for what you have. It is also a time to use some of the wisdom we have been learning about and ask God for much on if you have to leave your house and how to be safe. Leaning in and abiding, asking for wisdom, listening, searching, loving, praying much these are what I learned this month.
God I thank You for safety and wisdom for those that are on the roads. Thank You for warmth to those that have little heat or shelter. God protect Your children during these days, guide them, and help us all with Your wisdom to do right things and make right decisions in Jesus name amen
Proverbs begins and ends with the same vital message—fear of the Lord. None of the practical advice offered can be attained without knowing our stance of humility before holy God. He knows what’s best and we do not. How loving he is to give us his word to direct our paths! Have we hidden his word in our hearts that we might not sin against him? It’s the only way we can become wise, make good decisions and live up to God’s standards. Speaking of a Proverbs 31 woman, my mother was one of the wisest examples who carefully planted seeds of truth into the hearts of her children. I count it as one of God’s richest favors to me. As we close the last chapter of Proverbs, have we grown wiser?
I want to leave a word of thanks. This has been a great way to start the year. As I pray for myself, others, our nation and the world these words in Proverbs have guided my prayers of intercession. Thank you.
There is so much to unpack in Proverbs 31… I confess, there are times when that whole “Wife of Noble Character” piece can really get under my skin! 😉
But that is not what pierces my heart today. As I read this passage, I keep coming back to verses 8 and 9:
“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 NIV).
One of the unexpected consequences of being the “parent of a prodigal” is becoming a participant in our criminal justice system. And what I’ve witnessed there is heartbreaking—and stomach-turning. Even with godly, servant-hearted men and women of integrity at multiple points along that system, it remains a terribly broken reflection of our fallen world. My family and I are painfully aware of so much criminal injustice that only serves to perpetuate poverty and oppress the poor. Sadly, our current system exploits those with resources and marginalizes those without.
Our family is fortunate we have means to advocate for our child. We appreciate such privilege sets us apart. But God’s Word calls us to even greater advocacy. Will we make the most of our experiences—both good and bad—to set us apart for His purpose?
Lord, I ask for opportunities to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and ensure justice for those being crushed.”
“He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.”
-2 Corinthians 1:4 TPT
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
-Luke 12:48 NLT
“Identify with those who are in prison as though you were there suffering with them, and those who are mistreated as if you could feel their pain.”
-Hebrews 13:3 TPT