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,
P.S. If you’d like to study some of the wisdom literature further, I highly recommend the Wisdom Series from The Bible Project, and their resources on the book of Proverbs.
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
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