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Proverbs 31: Part 1 of 2 "Give Her of the Fruit of Her Hands"

  • Ina Manly Painter,
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Proverbs 31:1-9 gives us, by divine inspiration, a window into the affectionate instruction of a godly mother. This solemn tenderness is a bold antithesis between righteousness and unrighteousness and a godly example for all ages. We suspect that this mother's instruction may have been a near picture of herself; however, this chapter in its entirety is most assuredly a mirror for Christian women and a blueprint for every Christian man in the selection of a wife.

Some commentators think Lemuel was a familiar name given to Solomon, others disagree. We do not know the detailed personage of Lemuel, his mother's name, his age at the time of this prophetic oracle, or the location of his kingship. His mother may have been instructing him as a young child or admonishing him as a king, regarding the mixture of lust and drunkenness, that had caused many kings to stumble (Hos. 4:11). His life in the public domain should exhibit personal godliness as a guiding example for others. "Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings" (Prov .31: 3). The mother seeks discernment in her expletive question:

"What, my son?
And what, son of my womb?
And what, son of my vows?"
(Prov. 31:2 NKJ)

This is similar to the inquisitions of our own children. "What have you done?" "What is this course of life you have taken?" Lemuel was formed in her womb — that place of blessed provision nearest her heart. Had she gone through the pains of childbearing only to see him disgrace his God-given purpose? How could she ignore him, son of her vows, son of her tears? How could she be remiss toward this covenant child, in both their plights of faith? Could she withhold counsel, when he needed to be admonished? Surely this queen mother dispelled the humanist idea, under which we raise our children, that they, after a certain age, are on their own and we are ill effective to say or do much of anything regarding the eternal welfare of their souls, except grieve.

Why are we so quick to limit parental influence due to age sensitivity? The filth of the world and the ungodly marketing media knows no such limitations. We would do well to examine the practice of offering children as acts of harlotry to the humanist agenda that promises comfortable prosperity apart from godliness (Ezek.16:20-22).

When Eli reproved his sons for lying with women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, they were young men, beyond childhood (1Sam.2:23). No matter their age, they were still Eli's sons and God held him accountable because they made themselves vile and Eli did not restrain them (1 Sam. 3:13). God neither excused Eli, or his sons, for their careless disregard of His law. We, like Eli, may find it more convenient to humor our children in their sins than to rebuke them for the glory of God. We involve ourselves in the guilt of our children when we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their apostasy.

The Lord God is jealous for His own honor and we are wise to heed His Word, regardless of the passivity of a culture that abandons children to their own desires while declaring parental influence to be ineffective. We are too little concerned with leaving our children to the liberty of their own whims and they are too early concerned with casting away our counsel.

Lemuel's mother persevered in upholding God's lawful standard even in her son's occupation. She urged him to exercise righteous justice to those awaiting mercy, those marked for death. He should not use his employment for lustful gratification or personal indulgence. God's law must be the supreme consideration in every business affair. How unlike the humanist agenda of our society, strongly supported by most Christians, that domestic and governmental matters should in no way be subject to God's lawful justice.

Lemuel was encouraged to speak and judge forthrightly, without timidity, and insensitivity, pleading for those who were unable to plead for themselves. One of the most powerful means of discerning right from wrong, good from evil, is based upon righteous judging (John 7:24).

"Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all whom are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy"
(Prov. 31:8,9 NKJ).

It is a precious occasion when godly wisdom falls upon receptive ground in the heart's of our children and they come to know honor because of rebuke (Prov.13: 18), and the peaceful fruit of righteousness that follows chastening (Heb. 12: 11).

Our covenant children are gracious gifts.
They are the comfortable yield of marriage,
a heritage from God and the fruit of the womb,
to whom we must teach the reverent and worshipful
fear of the Lord.
It is our duty to train our children
in God's uncompromising holiness.
We should not leave them
to the responsibility of others
nor to their depraved natures,
else their intended blessing serve us with a curse.
"O how many parents have complained...that their very hearts
have been riven asunder with those wedges that were
cut out of their own bodies!1

Whether a mother or a wife, the virtuous woman who fears the Lord receives of the fruit of her hands. What about her children? "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate" (Ps.127: 5 NKJ). Our covenant children, as arrows, are weapons to subdue our enemies, applying God's law to every area of society, expanding the kingdom of God.


1. John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth [1678], 1976), 84.

  • Ina Manly Painter

Ina Manly Painter has a Master of Science Degree in Educational/Counseling Psychology. She and her husband, Harrison, live in Knoxville , TN , where they have been affiliated with Re/Max Preferred Properties as REALTORS, for many years. They have four children, Paige, and wife Christa, Laura, Jared, and Amanda and one grandson, Caleb. They can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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