The Words of King Lemuel,
The Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31
by James Daughtry (Bridgeview, IL; Abidan, 2021), 117 pp.
The Words of King Lemuel is a short practical commentary on Proverbs 31. The author claims that the keys to understanding this chapter are the careful examination of the Hebrew words and the study of the lifestyle of the people (p. 8). Using these keys, James Daughtry unlocks the meaning of King Lemuel’s instruction, and specifically the description of the virtuous woman, which encompasses most of the book. Realizing that many have distorted and/or misunderstood this woman, Daughtry systematically works through the description given her in twenty-two short chapters, plus an introduction and an initial chapter.
The design of the book is to offer helpful insight and appropriate application drawn from the life of this excellent Old Testament woman, which relates to that of modern women. In each chapter the reader is given discussion questions, which would aid small group Bible studies as well as personal engagement with the text. Ancient cultural features are explained and important words defined. Perhaps Daughtry’s definition of the word “virtuous,” meaning force, physical, financial, and inner strength, is the most helpful as it sets the tone for our understanding of this celebrated woman. She is a warrior, the author suggests, in her love and passion for life and others (p. 17). A good example of how a handle on Old Testament cultural times influences the exegesis of the text is the often misused phrase, “Her candle goeth not out by night” (v. 18). Grasping what these words meant in ancient times will help women avoid both workaholism and guilt trips, because they don’t think they measure up to the virtuous woman’s standard.
The Words of King Lemuel is a brief and useful guide through Proverbs 31, with its most significant value perhaps being in a woman’s Bible study context, however men will appreciate and benefit for the content of this volume as well.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel