Lessons from The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman {PLUS my guest post at Desiring God}

woman eyes

Today, I’m honored to be over at Desiring God talking about six ways for moms to redeem playdates. If you’re visiting from Desiring God, welcome!

As a mom of three little boys, playdates are part of our regular rhythm of life. My kids love playing with their friends, and I should love fellowshipping with other Christian moms, right? But to be honest, playdates often leave me discouraged. I go into a date longing for Christian community, but walk out feeling like it was no different from time spent with non-believing friends.

I recently shared my feelings with a few other moms (ironically at a playdate), and I was surprised to learn that they feel the same way. How is it that we — a group of moms who love Jesus — can gather for two hours and talk about nothing more than diapers and diets?

We decided then and there that it’s time for our playdates to be seasoned with the gospel. How do we practically achieve that? Well, you’ll have to pop on over to Desiring God to find out 😉

In the meantime, let’s talk about…

The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman

I was born and bred in the church, so I know the Proverbs 31 woman pretty intimately. You may too. She’s everywhere. Our church even has one of those Hobby Lobby “She is clothed in strength and dignity” canvases hanging in the women’s bathroom!

But until recently, I had never noticed the other Proverbs 31 woman. What about you?

Proverbs 31 begins…

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

Proverbs 31:1

Who is the “other” Proverbs 31 woman? King Lemuel’s mother. And let me tell you, sister, this woman is fierce. 

It’s no wonder that God saw fit to preserve her counsel in his holy word so that future generations might benefit from it. We can learn so much from what she says and how she says it! Trust me, after reading this passage, you’re going to want to hang her words in your own bathroom.

The Mother of Wisdom

The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him. What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?

Proverbs 31: 1-2

Before she even opens her mouth to impart wisdom on her son, the king’s mother is already teaching us something.

God could have easily chosen to leave verse one out of the Bible. We’d hear the oracle that follows with or without it. But he specifically chose to tell us that his mother taught him, so it must be an important detail.

Many commentators believe that King Lemuel is likely King Solomon. Lemuel means “devoted to God” and is thought to be a name of affection given to Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba.

If we assume that King Lemuel is, in fact, King Solomon, then it follows that God chose to give Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, at least part of his wisdom through his mom.

Moms, hear me (and this goes for you too, spiritual moms). God has chosen you to speak wisdom into your children. God is using you and your words to mold their little hearts. We don’t know what the future holds for our kids–they may be kings or pastors or accountants or parents themselves– but we do know that we are training up a whole new generation of people to follow and glorify God. And that, my friends, is a high calling!

Mother Knows Best

Imagine knowing that people’s lives would literally depend on the decisions your child made each day. What kind of wisdom would you want to impart on your son or daughter?

King Lemuel’s mother offers two pieces of sage, Godly advice.

1. Don’t squander what God has given you.

Before she offers any wisdom, the king’s mother addresses her son with tender affection and appeals to the inherent bond they share when she calls him “my son” and then “son of my womb.” She reminds him that she knows him intimately–his strengths and his weaknesses.

Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Proverbs 31:3-5

Because she is his mother, she knows that he will be tempted towards lust and drunkenness and warns him against falling into those traps.

As king, he had been entrusted with God’s law and his people. When he took the throne, he actually had to write his own copy of the Law so that it would be engraved on his heart as he governed God’s people. (Deuteronomy 17:18-19) His mother knows that these vices will make him temporarily forget God’s word and impair his judgment, so she lovingly warns him not to throw away the tremendous gift God has given him.

Because we are also royalty through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:9), God has graciously entrusted us with his word and his people as well (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Like King Lemuel, we have been given an extraordinary gift–the free gift of salvation!–and we are to flee from anything that will make us forget the gospel and “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we can “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) God calls us to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Sister, run to Jesus each and every day. Spend time in his word. Bathe in it. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you. Pray that your hearts would beat as one. Don’t squander the good gift you have been given.

2. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The king’s mother doesn’t tell him to stand up for his own rights, but instead urges him to stand up for the rights of those who are poor and needy.

We live in a culture that tells us to fight for our rights. “I deserve it” is the anthem of our generation. But as Christians, we are called to lay down our rights and look to the interests of others. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” Paul writes, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Jesus offered us the perfect example of this when he laid down his life for us. He didn’t deserve to die a humiliating, painful death, but instead “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:6-8)

When you are tempted to take up your own cause, look to Jesus and take up his. Jesus loves people, and he holds a special place in his heart for those who are poor and needy. We honor him when we lay down our own rights and fight for theirs instead.

What does this look like for us today?

Think about the circle of influence God has given you. Who in your circle needs you to speak up on their behalf?

  • Are you teaching your children to embrace God’s good design of diversity and to speak up for their friends who may be treated badly because of their skin color, social status, or disability?
  • Are you speaking up when you see others fall victim to racism, bigotry, or hate?
  • Does God want you to be an advocate for an elderly parent or widow?
  • Have you considered being a foster parent to children in your community who need love and protection?
  • Can you spend some time volunteering at your local pregnancy center and give voice to the most vulnerable among us–the unborn?

Take some time to prayerfully consider how you might “open your mouth” for those in need.

A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

The words of the “other” Proverbs 31 woman may not ever be on a Hobby Lobby canvas, but I pray that they will be engraved on all our hearts–reminding us to flee from sin, remember the gospel, and yield our influence for good.

I thank God for sharing the wisdom of King Lemuel’s mother with us. This passage is a hidden gem in plain sight, spurring me on to become more Christlike in heart and action. God has used these verses to challenge and expand my ideas of what it means to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” and I pray that he’s done the same for you.

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Thankful for the following sources…

Gill, John. “Commentary on Proverbs 31:4“. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-31.html. 1999.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Lessons from The “Other” Proverbs 31 Woman {PLUS my guest post at Desiring God}”

  1. I absolutely loved this article! I had no idea that there was a possibility of King “Lemuel’s” mother being Bathsheba! I just thought it was some random wisdom that King Solomon had heard from another king and thought was good enough to record. 🙂

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