A Greater than Solomon!

1 Chronicles 17:11-17                                                   … for without me ye can

Matthew 12:31-42                                                                    do nothing. (Jn. 15:5)

 1. David’s Great Son! Solomon’s wisdom and vast knowledge were legendary! The powerful Queen of Sheba, a Gentile, a woman, and a pagan, came to meet and hear this famed wise man. To the people of Palestine, the land of the south, Sheba, was at the ends of the earth! Yet this Queen and her large entourage made the long and arduous trip (1,200 miles) across the Arabian Desert to hear the wisdom of Solomon for herself! And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not…. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land…. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes have seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard (1Kg. 10:3-7). She also lavished costly treasures upon the king as a testimony of her gratitude for the godly wisdom she had heard. She came! She saw! She heard! She was conquered!

 2. David’s Greater Son! This mystery is solved by the stupendous event of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the second Adam, the Lord of Glory! The proof lies where few look for it, in the writings of Solomon himself, and in particular, in his unique book of Proverbs. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted: For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. David knew his Son of prophecy was incomparably greater than Solomon (Acts 2:25, 30)! Yet, Solomon is linked in the line from Abraham to Christ (Mt. 1). He also knew that he foreshadowed another and greater Solomon! The Son who will ultimately be born of David’s line, was none other than the Lord God! Jesus referred to the glory of Solomon while exhorting the poor not to be anxious for raiment.  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; for … even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (Mt.6:27-29)…. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold a greater than Solomon is here. This Gentile woman, with no advantage or invitation, came on her own initiative to learn God’s truth from Solomon, but this generation, whose prophets predicted the Coming One, rejected Him, a greater than Solomon, and thus rejected their promised Saviour!

 THOUGHT: When the sun is up, the moon seems to have no light. (Estey)

PRAYER:        That I may acknowledge David’s Greater Son!

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The Virtuous Woman — Her Worth!

PROVERBS 31:10-31                                             The memory of the just                                                                         

Genesis 2:18-25                                                                        is blessed: (Pr. 10:7a)             

This is one of the most celebrated tributes to womanhood in the Bible. This is Dr. Alden’s last word on vs. 31: “What she does, not what others say about her makes her the most noble woman of all, but husband and children may unite in praising the noble wife and mother.”

1. Her Steady Resolution! She is a virtuous woman (10). Virtuous has a much broader sense than in English. Hebrew (chayil) includes ability, efficiency, strength (BDB). Perowne wrote that no better English word than virtuous “could probably be found” to translate this word. It expresses all the power of her character. Her worth is above rubies (3:15; 8:11; 20:15)! Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain (30a), so   also are strange, outlandish woman! This virtuous woman’s strong resolution is the expression of her true Worth!

2.  Her Secret Recognition! but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised (30b). Her fear expresses her recognition that any merit she has is from God. She personifies the motto of Proverbs: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Yet, because of sin, this is a fear we think we have out-gown! In our law-courts, the fear of the Lord is  gone, and even in church-courts, it has all but disappeared (Rm.3:18)! This woman’s secret is to live her life as answerable first to a Holy God, and the secret of her success is not in herself, but because she feareth the Lord! She’s not only united to the Lord by faith, but seeks to avoid all that dishonours Him. Her fear reflected her true virtue, her worth to herself, to her family, and to all within her daily sphere of influence.

3. Her Secure Reputation!… and let her own works praise her in the gates (31b). “Righteousness is the fruit of faith,” said Arnot. The praise is from the Lord, for on such He pours out His grace and peace. The richness of her character and the graces she displayed “could only flow from that virtue which is identified with vital godliness,” Bridges said. The woman [or man] of God will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit, and that is the only way to bear fruit unto everlasting life! As her own works praise her in the gates, so do they follow her! Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her (28). Bridges put it: “What greater earthly happiness could she know than her children’s respect, and her husband’s blessing?” Arnot added: “Not till the very close do we reach the root of godliness that nourished them all.

THOUGHT: Adam’s portion wasn’t complete until he had his help meet.

PRAYER:             To be to the praise of my God.

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The Miracle of His Becoming!

 … he humbled himself … (Phil.2:8). Here is God’s amazing condescension! Man aspires, only God condescends!

 1. Man’s Humanity! And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (Jn.1:14a). The Incarnation is Christ taking on Him the seed of Abraham! Mary was not “the mother of God,” but the means through whom God prepared a Body for His Son! The miracle of His becoming is that, without ceasing to be God, He became man! He who was “very God of very God”, became “very man of very man”! Apostle John declared that any denial that Jesus came in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist (1Jn.4:3)!

2. Man’s Adversity!the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Is.53:6).  But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son (Gal.4:4a). What condescension was that! For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich (2 Co. 8:9). He wasn’t born in a palace to human royalty, but in a manger, in the midst of man’s adversity, poverty, hardship, oppression! At His birth, there was no room for Him in the inn (Lu.2:7); in life, there was no home for Him to call His own (Mt.8:20); in death, there was no tomb for Him, but a borrowed one (Mt.27:59-60)! Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: (Is. 53:4a)

3. Man’s Delinquency! He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Is.53:3a). For he hath made him to be sin for us,that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2Cor.5:21). He came to men, died for men, and lives in the hearts of all who receive Him by grace through faith as Lord and Saviour. The NT writers never speculate about the Incarnation; never speak of Christ as a theological problem. They never dissect the mystery of His Person. To them, He is the only Redeemer of God’s elect! When many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him; Peter cried: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:66-68). Some looked on Jesus and saw only a Galilean peasant, and turned away; some saw a prophet, and stopped to listen; some saw the Messiah and hope of a political saviour was kindled. What do you see in Jesus today? A perfect man, a great example, nothing more; John the Baptist saw the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29). Paul declared: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (1 Tim.3:16).

 THOUGHT: “Christ took our flesh, that he might take our sins.” (Watson)

PRAYER:  “Love so amazing, so divine, shall have … my all.”

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The Virtuous Woman — Her Word!

PROVERBS 31:10-31                                                          Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as

1 Peter 3:1-12                                                                               the honeycomb: (S of S 4:11a)

Her spirit and character are at perfect peace. The fear of God that rules her heart regulates her tongue. She has a God-given sense of the sacredness of life, and she strives to avoid every idle word that would hurt others or harm her testimony. Paul warned about women who go from house to house… speaking things which they ought not (1Tm.5:13). She had no time for idleness, or for idle tales! “As there was no spleen in her nature, there was nothing sardonic in her speech,” wrote David Thomas.

1. Her Confession of Faith! Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised (25, 26a, 30). These verses reveal the Fountain from which this remarkable woman drank deeply! Her strength and honour came from the Lord, not from outward show in dress or diamonds! This was also the source of her wisdom. She exuded an authority respected by all. She always had something worth saying when she opened her mouth! … for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Mt.12:34b)! Out of that abundance, she received strength for every task she undertook. Her words and opinions were sure because she feareth the Lord! Happy indeed is such a woman! Happy are those who work with her and daily see the proof of her wisdom. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him (Ps. 25:14a). It’s no wonder her life and work should be so far-reaching, as well as fruitful!

2. Her Compassion of Love! … and in her tongue is the law of kindness (26b). Our virtuous woman could drive a hard bargain when necessary, but she still kept a soft heart, and an open hand to help the needy (20)! How precious that, in the midst of all her hard bargaining, in her tongue is the law of kindness! That Law ruled her heart! Maclaren said: “A glimpse into ‘the very pulse’ of the woman’s nature is given…. Prosperity has not turned her head.” Solomon warned that, Death and life are in the power of the tongue (18:21a). She did not give orders with severity or threats. Perowne put it: “The wise instruction and counsel she gives is so combined with kindness, as to win rather than compel obedience.” How much better would this, often hard and cruel world be, with more such women (and men, too)! Thomas said: “She was too rich in love for envies, … too good for scandal.” Let every mother take this woman as her ideal, that her children arise up, and call her blessed!

THOUGHT: “Be occupied with good; it’s the best defense against evil!”

PRAYER:             To be such a woman after God’s own heart.

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The Virtuous Woman – Her Work!

PROVERBS 31:10-31                            But (which becometh women professing         

Luke 10:38-42                                                 godliness) with good works. (1Tm. 2:10)

Chapter 31 of Proverbs displays a full-length portrait of a heroine, but there are two here, Lemuel’s mother and the virtuous woman! We can take the prophecy (marg., burden) which his mother taught him (1) to include this portrait of the virtuous woman. “Her motive,” said Maclaren, “may be to sketch the sort of wife her son should choose, but it is her husband, and not she, who ‘sits’ there among the elders of the land!”

1. Her Devotion! The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need (lack) of spoil (gain) (11). He can safely leave everything in her capable hands! Here there will be no broken vows or wrecked dreams. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (12). Their bond is based on absolute loyalty and trust! Some would call this love, but certainly it’s devotion! She is “the ideal head of a household, on whose management, as much as on her husband’s work, its whole well-being depends,” Maclaren said again. In Eastern countries, at this time of writing, such a woman would have been a rarity! No wonder the question is asked: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (10). What a blessing to any husband, but especially to one who is in authority! A virtuous woman, indeed!

2. Her Dedication! She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar (13-14). Some of her work seems primitive, but she deals with foreign traffic, too. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good (18a). There’s no shoddiness, no idleness, no waste. She looketh well to the ways of her household (27a). She rises early to warn that sloth makes a family miserable! What industry and efficiency! (15-26) There’s no task too humble or challenge too hard for her to try for the good of all her household! This is not self-indulgence, but a broadening of her reach!

3. Her Distribution! She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy (20-25). She is both competent in business, and compassionate in heart! Arnot said: “The sluice which love opens to pour a stream on the needy, sweetens all the store.” Maclaren put it: “Pity and donations have their home in women’s hearts.” With all her thrift, she is not mean. Her open-hand help is the same busy-hand “supple with toil and dexterous with acquired skill,” said Perowne. What accomplishments these are of this noble matron!

THOUGHT:      “Woman is the complement of man….” (Arnot)

PRAYER:              To be a Martha as well as a Mary!

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Blessing of a godly Mother!

PROVERBS 31:1b-9                                                                       Abstain from all appearance  

2 Timothy 1:1-5                                                                                                  of evil. (1 Th.5:22) 

 Verse 1b reads: … the prophecy (Heb. massa’) that his mother taught him. Who was his mother? Scholars suggest a “probable” unknown mother, a guess! Why could not Bathsheba be this mother? Was she not under the godly tutelage of faithful prophet Nathan? What does she meant by: What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? (2)  Recall Hannah’s vow (1 Sm.1:11)! Son here is bar not ben; Perowne said this was “Aramaic” influences! Kidner merely stated: “Son: the word (bar) is commoner in Aramaic than in Heb.; but cf. Ps. 2: 12.” Bar can also be an adverb, meaning clean or pure (Pr.14:4; 5, 8)!

 1. The Foes to Flee From! Beware of that which destroyeth  kings! Here is “the yearning earnestness of a godly mother’s heart!”

 a) Beguiled by women (3)! This advice was given early to  Solomon. Yet he succumbed to the charms of outlandish women. What shame and grief this brought upon him, his people, and his kingdom!

b) Bedeviled by wine (4-5)! This warning is to all kings and princes lest they drink, and forget the law and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. KJV marg. Heb., all the sons of affliction, where sons is from ben! This may support the idea that bar, vs. 2, may be an adverb!

2. The Frail to Fight For (6, 7)! Now this mother said: Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish (to die), and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts (KJV marg. Heb. bitter of soul). … forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. My son, speak up for the dumb, and all such as are appointed to destruction, (KJV marg. Heb. the sons of from ben!).plead the cause of the poor and needy (8, 9).

a) Hope for the Hopeless! This can only mean the use of wine and strong drink for medicinal purposes (1Tm.5:23), or to ease the pain of those about to perish, by crucifixion (Mk.15:23). Always let there be acts of mercy (Lu.10:34)! My son, remember the poor and needy!

b) Help for the Helpless! Lemuel, stand by the oppressed, and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, i.e., the dumb, is his mother’s advice to her future King. Help for the helpless is her plea. Such is the duty and honour of kings, and of all in positions of authority and trust, for all will give account one Day! “Let justice be done though the world perish,” and with that, should we not all agree!   

THOUGHT:       A godly mother’s prayers, who can know their power?

PRAYER:                Lord, for more such godly mothers’ prayers!

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Who then was Lemuel?

PROVERBS 31:1a                                                                      I was eyes to the blind, and feet

Matthew 22:41-46                                                                        was I to the lame. (Job 29:15)

 a) The Sources Confuse! The words of king Lemuel… (1a). Heb. & Chal. Lexicon, Boston, 1890, p. 325: Lemuel, L’umel, L’moel, proper name; (prob. to God, i.e., devoted to God, so the Hebrew). Then the editor added: “A king, generally believed to be Solomon.”

Analytical Heb. & Chal. Lexicon, Bagster & Sons, Reprint 1967, p. 432: gives both Heb. forms L’umuel, L’moel, l’ el comp. l’m0 = to God, sc., (Latin, namely) dedicated; Pr. 31:1, 4, title of king Solomon.

Young’s Concordance, 1970, Le-mu-el, L’umel, L’moel, Godward, God is bright. A king, generally supposed to be Solomon.

BDB, Hebrew & Eng. Lex., Ed., Francis Brown, 1979, p. 541: l’muel, l’moel, n. pr. (Proverbs) m. king of Massa (prob., v. (vide, see) mimasa, a corrupt name of Agur’s (30:1) home or tribe (p. 672).   

 b) The  Scholars Confound! Again, modern scholars “agree” that “like Agur, Lemuel is some unknown king whose oracle or prophecy is here preserved for us ‘among the words of the wise.’” RV margin hazards: King of Massa; this is done by taking prophecy (vs.1; Heb., massa, prophetic utterance, revelation) as a proper name! Now it’s part of the text in RSV! The same doubt was raised over massa in 30:1. There, scholars assured us that: “All three names used here, may be those of foreigners; supposing a collection of proverbs by one of the wise ‘children of the East,’ added as an Appendix to this Book of Hebrew Wisdom.” The question is posed: Is it a place or a noun meaning oracle? “Unfortunately we don’t know who Lemuel is… any more than we knew who Agur was in 30:1,” wrote Dr. Alden. Yet, no one knows if a place named Massa ever existed! Yet, Kidner boldly claimed: “Lemuel was no king of Israel,” but then added: “unless the name—‘belonging to God’– is a nom-de-plume,” but he doesn’t say ‘for whom’! Kidner also wondered if “the language shows traces of foreign (but perhaps merely regional) dialect,” and then he admitted: “but the matter falls short of certainty”!

Recall that Solomon was also called Jedidiah, literally, Jah (Jehovah) is a friend, “the name given to Solomon by Nathan through the word of the Lord,” (2Sa.12:25), Young’s Concordance, p. 534. Hebrew and Latin expositors thought Solomon and Lemuel or Lemoel are one and the same! Though tutored by Nathan, Solomon respected his mother’s instruction, and he included it as prophecy here! Some have speculated that Lemuel may have been a “pet” name his mother gave him when he was young, and he placed it here just as she had pronounced it.

 THOUGHT:     “Character is more important than lifestyle.” Blanchard.

PRAYER:               Oh! make me understand it; help me to take it in!       

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