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Lesson 13: Women and Wine *

Introduction: "Women and Wine" sounds like a song, right? Women, thinking this might not be heading in a direction that will put them in a good light, are asking, "Why not Men and Beer?" The Proverbs have given us positive advice to improve our lives and this, our last lesson in this series, will be no different. We will not only study God's positive message for women, we start out with a woman's wisdom. Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Lemuel's Mother's Wisdom!

    1. Read Proverbs 31:1. Who is the source of this wisdom? (Lemuel's mother!)

    2. Read Proverbs 31:2-3. Why does Lemuel's mother state the things she does in verse two? (She is reminding Lemuel of how close they are - she is his mother, the one who gave birth to him and made vows about him. His name means "for God," so this suggests that she dedicated him to God.)

      1. What warning does Lemuel's mother give him in Proverbs 31:3? (Not to spend his "strength" on women or his "vigor" on "those who ruin kings.")

        1. Why refer to "strength" and "vigor?" (I think the idea is that you should not dedicate too much of your time to women or those things (or people) that will ruin you as a ruler. Many think that "Lemuel" is actually Solomon. Since Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3), we can understand the worry about his strength and vigor.)

    3. Read Proverbs 31:4-5. Why are only kings and rulers mentioned and not others? (The concern is that they will lose sight of the "rule of law." Instead of ruling by what the law requires, the king will forget the law and just do what he decides is appropriate when he is not thinking too clearly.)

      1. Have you ever done something inappropriate when you were not thinking too clearly?

    4. Read Proverbs 23:20-21. What do these verses say is the problem with drinking or eating too much? ("Drowsiness." Again, we see the problem is that you lose your clarity of thought at a time when it is important to get things right.)

    5. Read Proverbs 31:6-7. To whom does Lemuel's mother think giving beer and wine is a good idea? (To those who are dying, those who are sad.)

      1. Why is this a good idea? (We don't want the king to forget the rules, but for some it would be better to forget.)

        1. Does this seem to be common sense advice? I understand the counsel to ease the pain of the dying, but does it help the sad and depressed to give them alcohol? (It hardly seems like a helpful long-term solution.)

    6. Read Proverbs 31:8-9. As you consider the verses we have just read in Proverbs 31, do you think the primary concern is about drinking and spending too much time with women? (The focus seems to be on doing what is right. What is expected of kings is that they will keep to the rule of law regardless of the status of the person standing in judgment. Those who are not educated and articulate, those who are poor and cannot help the king, those kind of persons are just as entitled to justice as anyone else.)

  2. The Woman to Find

    1. Read Proverbs 31:10. I think the first line, "A wife of noble character, who can find?" is a rhetorical question. What is supposed to be the answer? (Such women are rare - like rubies.)

    2. Read Proverbs 31:11. When it says the husband of a "ruby wife" "lacks nothing of value," does that mean a ruby wife makes a lot of money? (No. If you have a good wife, you have everything you need.)

    3. Read Proverbs 31:12. How do you know you have a ruby wife? (She brings her husband good and not harm.)

      1. Ruby wives are supposed to be rare. How difficult is it to bring good and not harm to your spouse?

      2. What do you think is the key to being able to accomplish this? (Living by the direction of the Holy Spirit is the first requirement. But, it seems to me that unselfishness is the goal.)

    4. Read Proverbs 31:13-15. Do ruby wives get up early? (Yes!)

      1. What do you think about the comparison of a ruby wife to a "merchant ship?" (Merchant shipping brought great wealth and diversity of goods. It seems to be a high compliment to compare a good wife to this revolution in commerce.)

    5. Read Proverbs 31:16. This is an astonishing statement from a historical point of view. Note that women have often been denied the right to own property. What does this say is a goal for a wife? (To make her own business judgment ("considers a field"), to own her own money and property ("buys it out of her earnings"), and to engage in business ("she plants a vineyard").)

    6. Read Proverbs 31:17-18. What does this say about the image of a weak, dependant women? (It says just the opposite is the ideal.)

      1. What other business is engaged in by this ruby wife? (She makes a profit trading.)

      2. What does this say about the Bible's view of free enterprise? (It commends it and it recommends that women be a part of it.)

    7. Read Proverbs 31:19 and Proverbs 31:22 & 24. "Distaff"(verse 19)is not part of my vocabulary. The commentators are not clear on exactly what this means, but most believe this is some sort of spinning device for making cloth. Verses 22 and 24 support this idea.)

      1. Look again at Proverbs 31:22. What do you think of her clothing? (These are not ordinary clothes. They are fine, valuable clothes. They suggest wealth.)

      2. Read 1 Peter 3:3-4. Is the description of a ruby wife in Proverbs 31 at odds with Peter's description of a Christian wife? (The two texts should be read together. Peter says true beauty comes from character and actions. Read consistently with Proverbs 31, Peter is not saying that jewelry, fine clothes and carefully prepared hair are prohibited, he is just saying that they should not be the source of a woman's true beauty.)

    8. Read Proverbs 31:20. What is her attitude toward the poor? (She helps them.)

      1. What do you think the reference to "arms" and "hands" means? ("Open arms" seems to reflect the attitude of welcoming the poor, having sympathy for them. "Hands" tells us that both of her hands help the needy. Her attitude is backed by "two handed" action!)

    9. Read Proverbs 31:23. What does her husband have to do with this? Does it mean that ruby wives marry well? (She has something to do with his success.)

    10. Read Proverbs 31:25. Is she facing a funny future? (Notice her attitudes: strength, dignity, and no worry about the future.)

      1. Since no human can predict the future, is this wife foolish, reckless? (The last half of Matthew 6 contains instructions about not worrying about the future. God will take care of us. However, Proverbs 31 adds an essential point, we need to be diligent today. God is not saying, "be lazy and don't worry." He is saying, "be diligent and trust Me.")

    11. Read Proverbs 31:28-29. Mothers, what kind of attitude do you want your children and husband to have of you? (Following this formula gets you great reviews from your family.)

    12. Read Proverbs 31:30. Men, how would you go about finding a ruby wife? What are the considerations? (Charm, beauty and her relationship to God.)

      1. Which is the most important? (A woman's relationship with God. Beauty often departs with age. Some women are only nice when they are dating. But a relationship with God can be an eternal attribute.)

    13. Read Proverbs 31:31. How should husbands treat their ruby wives? (With rewards and praise!)

    14. Friend, consider God's affirming attitude toward women in this chapter. First, God tells us they are a source of practical advice. Second, he tells us that they should be allowed to use their extraordinary abilities to bless those around them.

  3. Next week: We begin the study of the Gospel of Luke.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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