I like King Lemuel’s mom. She wasn’t lazy.
Parenting is hard! And my little one is only (almost) seven months old. I know the days are coming when I will be ceaselessly guiding, instructing, correcting, disciplining, repeating. Oh, those toddlers, with their wills and ways and wonderful whining! A mom has to be so diligent, so intentional, and willing to persevere for decades! This mom with the oracle in Proverbs 31 sure sounds like that kind of mom!
I mean, this lady made her son, the heir to a throne, memorize this poem of her wishes and her warnings concerning his future. And what a collection of wisdom!
Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.
Don’t be stupid. Think with your BRAIN. Don’t take lightly your high position. Be wise and discreet, choosing wisely with whom you associate. This is not a game.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
Be a leader. Take this seriously, because it is serious! Don’t waste your life partying and thinking only of yourself; you do not have that luxury.
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
You have great responsibility and can do so much good. Serve the poor. Seek their good. You are not better than they are. You are their mouth, you are their hope, you can make your life make a difference.
That was the burden on the heart of King Lemuel’s mother. Don’t we all have a similar burden for our children? Wishes and warnings, hopes and dreams? This mother carefully taught this oracle to her son, word for word, so that its words reverberated in his mind. I bet you could just start the first words of it — “What, O my son? — and then he’d be off! The rest of the oracle would come spilling out of his mouth with very little effort because she took the time to teach him the reality of his responsibility as not just a king, but as a human being.
What a great lesson for us moms. Persevere. Your children hear more than you think they hear, and remember more than you think they remember, for sure. (So keep a song in your heart and train yourself to have a pleasant reaction when you stub your toe!) But don’t think that this general acquisition of your home’s cultural climate will translate into your child truly knowing right from wrong, or truly valuing what you value. You’ve got to teach him. As the ancient Proverb goes,
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
So what are your wishes and warnings for your child(ren)? What would you include in your oracle, whether you have children yet or not?