“Mother knows best.”

It’s not just a song for Disney’s “Tangled” movie. (One portion goes like this: “Don’t forget it / You'll regret it / Mother knows best.”) Twice in Proverbs we see the exhortation not to turn our backs from our mother’s instructions. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching(1:8, ESV. See also 6:20. Emphasis added.) In chapter 31 we read the instructions of King Lemuel’s mother, who was not named in the book. (King Solomon, the primary author of Proverbs, compiled not only his proverbs but also the sayings of other wise men such as Lemuel. Read 1 Kings 4:29-34. Ecclesiastes 12:9.)

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Probably, the Queen mother taught him the descriptions of the noble wife in verses 10 to 31. I believe she was concerned about the choice of her son’s wife. Elsewhere in Proverbs, we read that a man’s wife could spell the difference between his success or failure. 
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. … The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (12:4; 14:1)
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Just as a wife could build or tear down a household, so also a queen could make a kingdom rise or fall. That’s why King Lemuel’s mother made sure he would choose the right woman.
The woman King Lemuel chooses will be a queen! His mother has first-hand experience with this role. In describing the kind of wife her son should look for, she describes a woman who has influence and power. [1]
Now, Proverbs 31 is not just about choosing a queen. It’s about choosing a wife. 
The finest description of the ideal wife is found in 31:10–31. This poem is an acrostic with the initial words of the twenty-two verses all beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (see Ps. 119). This acrostic form was a device to help people commit the passage to memory. Perhaps Jewish parents instructed their sons and daughters to memorize this poem and use it as a guide for their lives and in their homes. [2]
In verse 10a, Lemuel asked a rhetorical question: “An excellent wife who can find?” The King was not saying that it’s impossible to find one. In The Message version, it says, “A good woman is hard to find”

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What he was saying was that the search for a good woman would be hard or difficult. Still, such a woman is worth pursuing for “She is far more precious than jewels.” (v. 10b) It is interesting that wisdom is described that way, too: “for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (8:11) Again, we see that an excellent wife is a wise woman, not a perfect woman. 

“Wise” Step

Reflect on Proverbs 12:4 and 14:1. In what ways can a wise woman build her house? (Clue: Read Proverbs 31.)

NOTE: This is Day Two of the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 10) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message on Becoming a Woman of Impact” last May 10.  In view of the recent Mother's Day celebration, I opted to post this series of devotional guide. Issue 9 will be posted afterwards.

[1] Katherine Alumbaugh (2014, August 19), “The Real Proverbs 31 Woman,” Bible.org Blogs, retrieved from http://blogs.bible.org/. Italics hers. 

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Skillful (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1995), 98. Emphasis added.


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