1 [The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.]
2 What, my son? And what, the son of my womb? And what, the son of my vows?
3 Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink,
5 Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
6 Give strong drink to him who is ready to perish, and wine to those who are of heavy hearts.
7 Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
8 Open your mouth for the mute in the cause of all those who are appointed to destruction.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant's ships. She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is yet night, and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it. With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good. Her candle does not go out by night.
19 She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretches out her hand to the poor. She even reaches forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes herself coverings of tapestry. Her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes fine linen and sells it, and delivers girdles to the merchant.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many daughters have done virtuously, but you excel them all."
30 Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains the last part of the book of Proverbs, which some reckon the fifth, others the sixth. It contains the instructions of the mother of a prince, whose name was Lemuel, which she gave to him, and which are so valuable, as to be annexed to the proverbs of Solomon. The preface or introduction to the instructions (Proverbs 31:1); the address to her son, (Proverbs 31:2). The vices she cautions him against are uncleanness and intemperance, which she dissuades from because of the pernicious consequences of both to kings and to their subjects (Proverbs 31:3-5). She advises rather to give wine and strong drink to poor people, such as are in distress, as being more useful to them, at least less prejudicial (Proverbs 31:6-7); and exhorts her son to the duties of his office, by pleading the cause of the poor and injured, and administering justice to them (Proverbs 31:8-9). And then at large describes a virtuous woman, perhaps designed as an instruction to her son in the choice of a wife, (Proverbs 31:10-31); though more than that may be intended by it.