These are the words of King Lemuel, an oracle, taught to him by his mother.
What shall I tell you, my son?—the son I gave birth to, the son given in response to my vows.
Don't waste your strength sleeping* with women, those that bring down kings.
Lemuel, kings shouldn't be drinking wine, rulers shouldn't be drinking alcohol.
For if they drink, they'll forget what the law says, and pervert the rights of those who are suffering.
Give alcohol to those who are dying, and wine to those who are in terrible distress.
Let them drink so they can forget their poverty, and not remember their troubles any longer.
Speak up for those who have no voice, for the rights of those marginalized by society.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the poor and destitute.
10 Who can find a strong, capable wife? She's worth more than jewels!
11 Her husband has complete confidence in her, and with her he'll never be poor.
12 She brings him good, not evil, all her life.
13 She gets wool and flax, and with her eager hands turns them into clothes.
14 Like a merchant's ship, she brings food from far away.
15 She gets up while it's still dark to make breakfast for her family, and to plan what her servant girls need to do.
16 She looks at a field, and decides to buy it; from the money she's earned she buys a vineyard.
17 She's keen to get ready, and works hard with her strong arms.
18 She knows that the things she makes are valuable. She keeps busyher lamp burns late into the night.
19 She spins the thread and weaves the cloth.§
20 She's generous to the poor, and gives help to the needy.
21 She doesn't worry if it snows, because her whole family has warm* clothing.
22 She makes herself bedspreads; she dresses in fine linen and purple clothes.
23 Her husband is well-respected in the council at the town gates, where he sits with the town elders.
24 She makes linen clothes for sale, and supplies merchants with belts.
25 She's clothed with strength and dignity, and she is happy about the future.
26 She speaks wise words, and she's kind when she gives instructions.
27 She looks after the needs of her whole household, and she's never idle.
28 Her children are quick to bless her. Her husband praises her too, saying,
29 Many women do great things, but you are better than all of them!”
30 Charm can deceive, and beauty fades, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised.
31 Give her the recognition she deserves; praise her publicly for what she's done.
* 31:3 “Sleeping” implied. 31:4 “Alcohol”: literally, “strong drink.” 31:10 “Jewels”: though often translated as “rubies,” it seems that they were not known at this time. The red jewels were likely to be carnelian or red coral. § 31:19 The Hebrew refers to the distaff and spindle used in spinning and weaving, but not much known in modern life. * 31:21 “Warm” following the implications of the Septuagint reading. Hebrew has “scarlet,” simply meaning expensive clothing.