The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.
O my son, O son of my womb,
O son of my vows,
do not waste your strength on women,
on those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol.
For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed.
Alcohol is for the dying,
and wine for those in bitter distress.
Let them drink to forget their poverty
and remember their troubles no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
(Proverbs 31:1-9, New Living Translation)
Even Kings need to listen to their mothers, and Solomon is no exception. It is probable that Lemuel, meaning for God or devoted to God, is merely another moniker for Solomon. It may even be that it was a nickname of sorts, one of endearment that his mother used to call him in his younger, growing up years, and it stuck. And now as Solomon completes his book of Proverbs, his mother comes to mind. He looks back with Holy Spirit-inspired memory to recall worthy words of wisdom his mother had taught him, and were invaluable in the pursuit of a wise and good life. In particular, how to be a wise and good leader.
He recalls how seriously she would talk with him at times, the way she would grab hold of his attention, “Oh, Oh, son of mine, what can you be thinking of! Child whom I bore! The son I dedicated to God! Listen to me now, you need to listen to me. Don’t dissipate your virility on fortune-hunting women, promiscuous women who shipwreck leaders (The Message).”
Godly mothers have this uncanny ability to see a bad woman coming as they look out for their boys. Further, she understands basic biology, and the effects of the fall to use hormones to fuel temptation to sin, so that a leader’s influence and legacy is destroyed. Now, more than ever, as we look around at the wreckage of leaders in our culture due to sexual immorality, a mother’s Spirit-empowered intuition should be trusted and listened to by sons.
He remembers her warnings and guidance on the use of alcohol. Unlike the black and white polarities of the tee-totaler or the lush, mom brought balance to the consumption of adult beverages. On the one hand, a leader shouldn’t guzzle wine and abuse alcohol. He needs to have a clear head to make good decisions and right judgments. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that wine and strong drink is never allowed. You can enjoy a good beer, a glass of wine, a Manhattan. They are a cordial that complements good food, and allows the dying, the distressed, the sick (1 Timothy 5:23), and the poor to forget their troubles (but not by becoming drunk, Ephesians 5:18) as they celebrate life with those whom they love.
He reminisces on her encouragement to never forget that a leader is a leader because of their followers. You are in a place of authority and position that brings a certain level of notoriety, so you can speak for those not in the spotlight. And especially those in danger because their situation is not known—the poor, the helpless, the marginalized, the ones taken advantage of, the powerless, all those who are open to great injustice because of their place in society. With great power comes great responsibility.
It has been sung that “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Mothers inhabit a place of great influence, and there is wisdom for moms to understand the multigenerational impact they have within their grasp. The words you speak to your sons, and your daughters, matter.
And sons, follow the example of a King. When mom speaks, you should listen. For a godly mother has words to impart that will lead to a wise and good life.
I think I need to go call my mom…
Thank you for creating family. And I am so grateful today, in light of this text, for the special bond between a mom and her son. Thank you for the shaping influence of the wisdom of a woman in the life of a boy, who will grow into a man, a husband, and a father. Thank you for your good news, which shapes such relationships into healthy places that perpetuate wisdom, and a good life. And we pray today for your grace and peace to fall upon those sons (and daughters) who had/have difficult relationships with their mothers. We pray today for those sons (and daughters) who maybe never knew their mothers, for one reason or another. Please bring healing, through the power of your Spirit, to conflicted relationships and aching hearts. And may our churches be places of robust, spiritual families, where these sons (and daughters) may benefit from the love of many mothers and fathers who welcome them with open arms into a good life of love, support, and encouragement.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.