Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 97, A Mother's Advice

Today we begin the final chapter of Proverbs and in it we find the advice of a loving mother to her son. We do not know who this son, Lemuel, is. Some scholars have attempted to equate Lemuel with Solomon and the mother with Bathsheba, but the original text contains some Chaldean characters which would likely not have been used in the time of Solomon. Other scholars believe Lemuel is a pet name King Hezekiah's mother used for him. This is possible, since we know Hezekiah made a collection of Solomon's sayings, and since this Lemuel is said to be a king. Still other commentators think the first section of Chapter 31 is an allegory, a little story about a fictional mother and son. No matter who Lemuel was, or who his mother was, we find some advice in this passage which is good for anyone, and especially for anyone who holds a position of leadership.

"The sayings of King Lemuel---an inspired utterance his mother taught him. Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings." (Proverbs 31:1-3) Many a man has been brought low by illicit relations with women. We've seen politicians lose their careers because of affairs. We've seen church leaders and evangelists disgraced because of relationships they conducted outside of their marriages. Lemuel's mother knows what she's talking about when she tells her son that running after women ruins kings. Look what happened to King David when he chased another man's wife. Think about how far Solomon drifted from the Lord when he lusted after and married an outrageous number of women. Consider what happened to Samson because he had an insatiable appetite for Philistine women. The Bible is full of stories of men who made unwise choices where women are concerned. Lemuel's mother knows that mighty men may survive the battlefield only to be vanquished in their private lives.

"It is not for kings, Lemuel---it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more." (Proverbs 31:4-7) The king must keep his wits about him. Alcohol is another thing that has ruined many a man (and woman). The king's mother counsels, "Save beer and wine for those who are ill and in pain, and for those whose hearts are broken. Think of it as medicine. But you, my son, are strong and in the prime of life. You must be sober. You must set an example. You must be capable at all times of making wise decisions."

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) To be the champion of the needy is to be like the Lord, for David says of Him, "Who is like You, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them." (Psalm 35:10) And, "He stand at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them." (Psalm 109:31) And, "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." (Psalm 140:12) Lemuel's mother advises him to be a godly king. He is to care for the poor and needy. He is to avenge those who have been unfairly treated. In other words, he is to model himself after the King of kings. He is to look upon his subjects as the Lord would look upon them, and he is to love them as the Lord loves them. The Apostle John spoke on this same subject of loving our fellow man in 1 John 4:20-21, and we will conclude with his words, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."

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