Proverbs 31:7
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
31:1-9 When children are under the mother's eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children. The many awful instances of promising characters who have been ruined by vile women, and love of wine, should warn every one to avoid these evils. Wine is to be used for want or medicine. Every creature of God is good, and wine, though abused, has its use. By the same rule, due praise and consolation should be used as cordials to the dejected and tempted, not administered to the confident and self-sufficient. All in authority should be more carefully temperate even than other men; and should be protectors of those who are unable or afraid to plead their own cause. Our blessed Lord did not decline the bitterest dregs of the cup of sorrow put into his hands; but he puts the cup of consolation into the hands of his people, and causes those to rejoice who are in the deepest distress.The true purpose of the power of wine over man's mind and body, as a restorative and remedial agent. Compare the margin reference. The same thought showed itself in the Jewish practice of giving a cup of wine to mourners, and (as in the history of the crucifixion) to criminals at their execution. 6, 7. The proper use of such drinks is to restore tone to feeble bodies and depressed minds (compare Ps 104:15). For wine, moderately used, allayeth men’s cares and fears, and cheereth their spirits, Psalm 104:15. Let him drink, and forget his poverty,.... Which has been very pressing upon him, and afflicting to him; let him drink till he is cheerful, and forgets that he is a poor man; however, so far forgets as not to be troubled about it, and have any anxious thoughts how he must have food and raiment (k);

and remember his misery no more; the anguish of his mind because of his straitened circumstances; or "his labour" (l), as it may be rendered; so the Septuagint and Arabic versions, the labour of his body, the pains he takes to get a little food for himself and family. The Targum is,

"and remember his torn garments no more;''

his rags, a part of his poverty. Such virtue wine may have for the present to dispel care, than which it is said nothing can be better (m); and to induce a forgetfulness of misery, poverty, and of other troubles. So the mixed wine Helena gave to Telemachus, called Nepenthe, which when drunk, had such an effect as to remove sorrow, and to bring on forgetfulness of past evils (n); and of which Diodorus Siculus (o) and Pliny (p) speak as of such use. The ancients used to call Bacchus, the god of wine, the son of forgetfulness; but Plutarch (q) thought he should rather be called the father of it. Some, by those that are "ready to perish", understand condemned malefactors, just going to die; and think the Jewish practice of giving wine mingled with myrrh or frankincense, or a stupefying potion to such that they might not be sensible of their misery (r), such as the Jews are supposed to otter to Christ, Mark 15:23; is grounded upon this passage; but the sense given is best: the whole may be applied in a spiritual manner to such persons who see themselves in a "perishing", state and condition; whose consciences are loaded with guilt, whose souls are filled with a sense of wrath, have a sight of sin, but not of a Saviour; behold a broken, cursing, damning law, the flaming sword of justice turning every way, but no righteousness to answer for them, no peace, no pardon, no stoning sacrifice but look upon themselves lost and undone: and so of "heavy hearts"; have a spirit of heaviness in them, a heaviness upon their spirits: a load of guilt on them too heavy to bear, so that they cannot look up: or are "bitter in soul"; sin is made bitter to them, and they weep bitterly for it: now to such persons "wine", in a spiritual sense, should be given; the Gospel, which is as the best wine, that, goes down sweetly, should be preached unto them; they should be told of the love of God and Christ to poor sinners, which is better than wine; and the blessings of grace should be set before them, as peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, by Christ, the milk and wine to be had without money and without price; of these they should drink, or participate of, by faith, freely, largely, and to full satisfaction; by means of which they will "forget" their spiritual "poverty", and consider themselves as possessed of the riches of grace, as rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom; and so remember no more their miserable estate by nature, and the anguish of their souls in the view of that; unless it be to magnify and adore the riches of God's grace in their deliverance.

(k) "Tunc dolor a curae rugaqae frontis abit", Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 1.((l) "laboris sui", Pagninus, Montanus. (m) Cyprius poeta apud Suidam in voce (n) Homer. Odyss. 4. v. 220, 221. (o) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 87, 88. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 21, c. 21. (q) Symposiac. l. 7. Probl. 5. p. 705. (r) Vid. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, s. 10. fol. 198. 4.

Let him drink, and forget {f} his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

(f) For wine comforts the heart as in Ps 104:15.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 7. - Let him drink, and forget his poverty. Ovid, 'Art. Amat.,' 1:237 -

"Vina parant animos, faciuntque caloribus aptos:
Cura fugit multo diluiturque mero.
Tunc veniunt risus; tunc pauper cornua sumit;
Tunc dolor, et curae, rugaque frontis abit."
Thus is shown a way in which the rich can comfort and encourage their poorer brethren, which is a better method of using God's good gifts than by expending them on their own selfish enjoyment. Superscription:

1 Words of Lemuel the king,

   The utterance wherewith his mother warned him.

Such would be the superscription if the interpunction of the text as it lies before us were correct. But it is not possibly right. For, notwithstanding the assurance of Ewald, 277b, למואל מלך, nevertheless, as it would be here used, remains an impossibility. Certainly under circumstances an indeterminate apposition can follow a proper name. That on coins we read מתתיה כהן גדול or נרון קיסר is nothing strange; in this case we also use the words "Nero, emperor," and that we altogether omit the article shows that the case is singular: the apposition wavers between the force of a generic and of a proper name. A similar case is the naming of the proper name with the general specification of the class to which this or that one bearing the name belongs in lists of persons, as e.g., 1 Kings 4:2-6, or in such expressions as, e.g., "Damascus, a town," or "Tel Hum, a castle," and the like; here we have the indefinite article, because the apposition is a simple declaration of the class.

(Note: Thus it is also with the examples of indeterminate gentilicia, which Riehm makes valid for למואל מלך (for he translates למואל symbolically, which, however, syntactically makes no difference): "As analogous to 'Lemuel, a king,' one may adduce 'Jeroboam, son of Nebat, an Ephrathite,' 1 Kings 11:26, instead of the usual form 'the Ephrathite;'" and בן־ימיני, Psalm 7:1, for בן הימיני; on the contrary, כהן, 1 Kings 4:5, does not belong to the subject, but is the pred.)

But would the expression, "The poem of Oscar, a king," be proper as the title of a book? Proportionally more so than "Oscar, king;" but also that form of indeterminate apposition is contrary to the usus loq., especially with a king with whom the apposition is not a generic name, but a name of honour. We assume that "Lemuel" is a symbolical name, like "Jareb" in "King Jareb," Hosea 5:13; Hosea 10:6; so we would expect the phrase to be מלך למואל(ה) rather than למואל מלך. The phrase "Lemuel, king," here in the title of this section of the book, sounds like a double name, after the manner of עבר מלך in the book of Jeremiah. In the Greek version also the phrase Λεμουέλου βασιλέως (Venet.) is not used as syntactically correct without having joined to the βασιλέως a dependent genitive such as τῶν Αράβων, while none of the old translators, except Jerome, take the words למואל מלך together in the sense of Lamuelis regis. Thus מלך משּׂא are to be taken together, with Hitzig, Bertheau, Zckler, Mhlau, and Dchsel, against Ewald and Kamphausen; משׂא, whether it be a name of a tribe or a country, or of both at the same time, is the region ruled over by Lemuel, and since this proper name throws back the determination which it has in itself on מלך, the phrase is to be translated: "Words of Lemuel the king of Massa" (vid., under Proverbs 30:1). If Aquila renders this proper name by Λεμμοῦν, Symmachus by Ἰαμουήλ, Theodotion by Ρεβουήλ, the same arbitrariness prevails with reference to the initial and terminal sound of the word, as in the case of the words Ἀμβακούμ, Βεελζεβούλ, Βελίαρ. The name למוּאל sounds like the name of Simeon's first-born, ימוּאל, Genesis 46:10, written in Numbers 26:12 and 1 Chronicles 4:24 as נמוּאל; יואל also appears, 1 Chronicles 4:35, as a Simeonite name, which Hitzig adduces in favour of his view that משׂא was a North Arab. Simeonite colony. The interchange of the names ימואל and נמואל is intelligible if it is supposed that ימואל (from ימה equals ימא) designates the sworn (sworn to) of God, and נמואל (from נם Mishnic equals נאם)

(Note: In the Midrash Koheleth to Proverbs 1:1, the name Lemuel (as a name of Solomon) is explained: he who has spoken to God in his heart.)

the expressed (addressed) of God; here the reference of ימו and נמו to verbal stems is at least possible, but a verb למּה is found only in the Arab., and with significations inus. But there are two other derivations of the name: (1) The verb (Arab.) waâla signifies to hasten (with the infin. of the onomatop. verbs waniyal, like raḥyal, walking, because motion, especially that which is tumultuous, proceeds with a noise), whence mawnil, the place to which one flees, retreat. Hence למוּאל or למואל, which is in this case to be assumed as the ground-form, might be formed from אל מואל, God is a refuge, with the rejection of the א. This is the opinion of Fleischer, which Mhlau adopts and has established, p. 38-41; for he shows that the initial א is not only often rejected where it is without the support of a full vocal, e.g., נחנוּ equals אנחנוּ, lalah equals ilalah (Deus), but that this aphaeresis not seldom also occurs where the initial has a full vocal, e.g., לעזר equals אלעזר, laḥmaru equals âllahmaru (ruber), laḥsâ equals âl-laḥsâ (the name of a town); cf. also Blau in Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitschr. xxv. 580. But this view is thus acceptable and tenable; a derivation which spares us by a like certainty the supposition of such an abbreviation established only by the late Palestinian לעזר, Λάζαρος, might well desire the preference. (2) Fleischer himself suggests another derivation: "The signification of the name is Deo consecratus, למו, poetic for ל, as also in Proverbs 31:4 it is to be vocalized למואל after the Masora." The form למואל is certainly not less favourable to that first derivation than to this second; the is in both cases an obscuration of the original. But that "Lemuel" may be explained in this second way is shown by "Lael," Numbers 3:24 (Olshausen, 277d).

(Note: Simonis has also compared Aethiopic proper names, such as Zakrestos, Zaiasus. Zamikal, Zamariam.)

It is a beautiful sign for King Lemuel, and a verification of his name, that it is he himself by whom we receive the admonition with which his mother in her care counselled him when he attained to independent government. אשׁר connects itself with דברי, after we have connected משׂא with מלך; it is accus. of the manner to יסּרתּוּ equals יסּרתהוּ; cf. הטּתּוּ, Proverbs 7:21, with גּמלתהוּ, Proverbs 31:12 : wherewith (with which words) she earnestly and impressively admonished him. The Syr. translates: words of Muel, as if ל were that of the author. "Others as inconsistently: words to Lemuel - they are words which is himself ought to carry in his mouth as received from his mother" (Fleischer).

The name "Massa," is it here means effatum, would be proportionally more appropriate for these "Words" of Lemuel than for the "Words" of Agur, for the maternal counsels form an inwardly connected compact whole. They begin with a question which maternal love puts to itself with regard to the beloved son whom she would advise:

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