Proverbs 31

Good advice to a king

1 These are the words that King Lemuel's mother said to him. It is an important message:

31:1Lemuel was not a king of Israel. But his name means ‘he belongs to God’.

2 Be careful, my dear son. God answered my prayers when I gave birth to you. Please listen carefully!

3 Do not chase after women and lose your strength. Women like that have destroyed kings.

4 Listen, Lemuel. Kings should not drink lots of wine. They should not want strong drink. 5 When kings drink alcohol, they forget to obey the law. They take away justice for helpless people.

6 Give strong drink to people who are dying. Give wine to people who are very upset. 7 Then they can forget how poor they are, or how sad they are.

8 Speak on behalf of people who cannot speak for themselves. Help helpless people to receive justice. 9 Speak clearly to help them. Judge people in a way that is fair and right. Help poor and helpless people to receive justice.

A poem about a good wife

31:10This poem at the end of the Book of Proverbs tells us what it means to be really wise. It does not mean that you know everything. It means that you live in a good way that helps other people. Verses 10-31 are an alphabet poem. Each line starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, starting with Aleph.

10 How difficult it is to find a wife who is truly wise! She is worth much more than valuable jewels.

11 Her husband trusts her to help him. He will have everything that he needs.

12 She does good things for him every day of her life. She never tries to hurt him.

13 She is happy to work with her own hands to make clothes with wool and linen.

14 She brings special food from far away, like a ship that travels across the sea.

15 She gets up while it is still night and she prepares food for her family. She also gives some to her female servants.

16 She looks carefully at a field, and she decides to buy it. She uses her own money to plants a vineyard.

17 She is strong and she always works hard.

18 She knows how to make money as she buys and sells things. Even at night, she is still working.

19 She knows how to make cloth.

20 She gives money to poor and helpless people.

21 All her family have warm clothes to wear. She is not afraid when cold weather comes.

22 She makes beautiful cloths to cover the beds. Her own clothes are made with valuable linen and purple cloth.

23 People in the city respect her husband. He meets with the other leaders at the city's gate.

24 She uses linen to make clothes and she sells them. She makes belts to sell to the traders.

25 She shows her strength and people respect her. She is not afraid of what will happen in the future.

26 When she speaks, she says wise words. She is kind as she teaches people what is right.

27 She always works hard and she takes care of her family.

28 Her children all agree to thank her. Her husband also praises her.

29 He says, ‘Many women are wise and they work well, but you are better than all of them.’

30 A woman may seem to be beautiful, but that can deceive people. Her body will not be beautiful for ever.

But a woman who respects the Lord with fear will receive honour.

31 Praise her for everything that she has done.

Everyone in the city should know about her, and they should praise her as she deserves.