For some reason, this chapter moves away from Solomon and is now supposedly written by some guy named Agur. Wikipedia says little about him. Look at v 4. If you’re Christian, it’s one of the references to the coming of Jesus; if you’re Jewish, it refers to Moses. It has quite a different (darker) tone than previous chapters. V 17 is just plain nasty. Much of the author’s sense of mystery in v 18-19 has now been explained by science. And I find the attitude of v 20-24 frankly disgusting and appalling. (Don’t even try to get ahead – god won’t approve.)
This chapter has yet another author – King Lemuel, who is not mentioned anywhere else in the bible. We really have no idea who this guy was, although it’s possible Lemuel is a nickname for Solomon. If this is the case, then the words directed to Lemuel (v 2-9) were spoken by Bathsheba. And knowing what we do about Solomon, he certainly didn’t heed the advice in v 3! The stuff about alcohol, it`s harder to say. Apparently Obama quoted v 8-9 at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast to show Christians (particularly Romney) why they should care about the poor.
The rest of the chapter is a separate section – a tribute to a good wife. It`s well-known and oft quoted, esp v 10 “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Read the whole thing; the description sounds like some kind of ‘SuperWoman’ – if you’re into traditional gender roles.
That wraps up Proverbs. Are we any wiser or more moral now????