2. What, my son?--that is, What shall I say? Repetitions denote earnestness.
son of my womb--as our phrase, "my own son," a term of special affection.
son of my vows--as one dedicated to God; so the word "Lemuel" may mean.
3-9. Succinct but solemn warnings against vices to which kings are peculiarly tempted, as carnal pleasures and oppressive and unrighteous government are used to sustain sensual indulgence.
strength-- mental and bodily resources for health and comfort.
thy ways--or course of life.
to that . . . kings--literally, "to the destroying of kings," avoid destructive pleasures (compare Proverbs 5:9 , Proverbs 7:22 Proverbs 7:27 , Hosea 4:11 ).
4, 5. Stimulants enfeeble reason, pervert the heart, and do not suit rulers, who need clear and steady minds, and well-governed affections (compare Proverbs 20:1 , 22:29 ).
pervert . . . afflicted--They give unrighteous decisions against the poor.
6, 7. The proper use of such drinks is to restore tone to feeble bodies and depressed minds (compare Psalms 104:15 ).
8, 9. Open . . . cause--Plead for those who cannot plead for themselves, as the orphan, stranger, &c. (compare Psalms 72:12 , Isaiah 1:17 ).
appointed to destruction--who are otherwise ruined by their oppressors (compare Proverbs 29:14 Proverbs 29:16 ).
10-31. This exquisite picture of a truly lovely wife is conceived and drawn in accordance with the customs of Eastern nations, but its moral teachings suit all climes. In Hebrew the verses begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order (compare
Who . . . woman--The question implies that such are rare, though not entirely wanting (compare Proverbs 18:22 , 19:14 ).
virtuous--literally, "of strength," that is, moral courage (compare Proverbs 12:4 , Ruth 3:11 ).
her price, &c.--(compare Proverbs 3:15 ).
11. heart . . . trust in her--He relies on her prudence and skill.
no need of spoil--does not lack profit or gain, especially, that obtained by the risk of war.
12. do . . . good--contribute good to him.
13, 14. Ancient women of rank thus wrought with their hands; and such, indeed, were the customs of Western women a few centuries since. In the East also, the fabrics were articles of merchandise.
15. She diligently attends to expending as well as gathering wealth;
16. and hence has means to purchase property.
17, 18. To energy she adds a watchfulness in bargains, and a protracted and painful industry. The last clause may figuratively denote that her prosperity (compare Proverbs 24:20 ) is not short lived.
19. No work, however mean, if honest, is disdained.
20. Industry enables her to be charitable.
21. scarlet--or, "purple," by reason of the dyes used, the best fabrics; as a matter of taste also; the color suits cold.
23. in the gates--(compare Proverbs 22:22 ). His domestic comfort promotes his advancement in public dignity.
24. fine linen--or, "linen shirts," or the material for them.
girdles--were often costly and highly valued ( 2 Samuel 18:11 ).
delivereth--or, "giveth as a present" or "to sell."
25. Strength and honour--Strong and beautiful is her clothing; or, figuratively, for moral character, vigorous and honorable.
shall rejoice . . . come--in confidence of certain maintenance.
26. Her conversation is wise and gentle.
28. She is honored by those who best know her.
29. The words are those of her husband, praising her.
virtuously--(Compare Proverbs 31:10 ).
31. The result of her labor is her best eulogy. Nothing can add to the simple beauty of this admirable portrait. On the measure of its realization in the daughters of our own day rest untold results, in the domestic, and, therefore, the civil and religious, welfare of the people.