She is Not Nice

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
~Proverbs 31:26

Now this verse is one of my favorites! While I have struggled with something to say about previous verses in our Proverbs 31 journey, I have no shortage of options here. I could talk about James and his famous treatise on the tongue, calling it a restless evil, or about Jesus and His keen observation of our words reflecting the state of our hearts, (along with His promise of judgment for careless speech). I could write all day about how fools rush to speak, while the wise weigh their words, or I could simply ask the question, “What is wisdom?” and be here until I die trying to answer it sufficiently.

I could talk about any of those things, but I won’t. Instead, I want to tell you why this beautiful verse is one of my favorites, along with some things that God has been teaching me about it. Why do I love it? First because its obvious exhortation makes it a great reminder to commit to memory, and second because God has used this verse to teach me what being kind isn’t:

KIND ≠ NICE

We always teach kids to “be nice,” right? When they hit someone, or say something mean, or snatch a toy from another kid, we say, “That’s not nice,” as we correct their behavior. All kids, I’m convinced, hear “Be nice!” an average of 172 times per day until they’re at least 12. As girls especially, learning manners and how to be nice and polite were moderately high priorities (at least in my generation and those prior). It’s no wonder that it’s ultra-ingrained in so many of our brains to try to be nice all the time!

Here’s the problem, though: By definition, being “nice” means that you’re concerned with pleasing others by being delightful, pleasant, and agreeable. Think on that for a moment. Should we, in all situations and at all times, be concerned with pleasing others by being delightful, pleasant, and agreeable? No! This is why I submit to you that “kind” is not exactly a synonym for “nice.” The two may be cousins, maybe even siblings, but they are NOT twins!

I have wasted so many opportunities by trying to be nice. For me, that means keeping my mouth shut when I shouldn’t have. Skirting around the truth. Even outright lying to avoid hurt feelings, awkward situations, and inconvenient drama. Too often, I have chosen to steel myself against the Spirit crying out inside me, and have gone the “smile and nod” route until I could extract myself from the situation. No hurt feelings this way. No arguments. No angry rebuttals to deal with.

How is this in any way a kindness? The other person may walk away feeling good because I resolved to be completely agreeable, but they are also walking away deceived. They think they have my approval or support when they don’t. They think things are okay between us when they aren’t. They think what they’re doing is right when, according to God’s Word, it isn’t. And I lied to them for the (ultimately selfish) sake of being “nice.”

Kindness is quite different.

Kindness is never selfish. Kindness is concerned less with one’s own outward behavior and more with what is truly the very best thing for the other person. Kindness is wholly true. Kindness is compassionate. Kindness is never a farce.

Being kind is quite akin to dying to yourself, forgetting what you think is owed to you (whether what is “owed” is as simple as an agreeable and trouble-free social experience with another person, or as serious as the healing of a deep wound previously inflicted by that person). The Hebrew word for kindness used here, in fact, is more often translated as “mercy” in other parts of the Bible.

Now mercy is wrapped up in truth and is an outpouring of oneself. Look to Jesus: He did not simply leave mankind to his own depravity, destined for judgment and eternal hell, because it’s not “nice” to say what needs to be said. Instead, He showed mercy — He showed kindness — by coming to tell us the truth about who He is and who we are. This is the only way to paradise, the only way to God.

A good bit of what He said wasn’t “nice” — in fact, much of it was quite offensive — but it was kind and merciful because He told the necessary truth in a way we could understand, and He gave all of Himself, covering us with His love.

Isn’t that our calling? As moms surely, but as Christ-followers in general. Thinking less of being “nice” to keep things pleasant, and thinking more of being kind, merciful, and truthful to keep things real

Let us weigh our words; are they wise?

Let us examine our teaching (for everything we say is teaching someone something); is it kind and true?

Kindness and truth are inseparable, and meant by the Father to be intimately known:

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
-Proverbs 3:3-4

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, oh how I wish I could take all of the foolishness in the world and create a vaccine for you! It is too easy to be a fool, and too easy to fall in love with a fool who is a “really nice girl.” Of course, politeness and courtesy are good qualities to look for in a woman, but they are just scratching the surface. These things may help you notice her, but I pray that you would look deeper. Examine her character and take the time to get to know her heart. Is she being nice merely to make life more pleasant for herself and for those around her? Or is she truly concerned with being kind and true? With being merciful and compassionate? Is she courageous enough to gently and reverently say what needs to be said, even if it’s not received as being very “nice”? Has she recognized true wisdom, and is she striving to walk not as the unwise do, but as the wise, making the most of every opportunity? Now this woman, if you find her, is a rare treasure.

My Love, you know my weakness here. You know that I struggle with how to speak the truth in love, and when to keep my mouth shut. Usually, I keep my mouth shut, but that is not always the answer. Encourage me to obey God, for I need courage! Help me to seek wisdom, for I am too often unwise. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give me words, for mine are feeble and often too harsh. Thank you, Love, for loving me despite myself.

My God, oh I need help, help, help!!! Enable me to hear You, fill me with courage in obedience, pour out mercy, kindness, and truth through me. Help me to die to myself and to completely serve You. You are the only source of kindness, truth, mercy, compassion, tenderness, wisdom, and understanding. Give me Your eyes and Your words in my every dealing with all of your creation. I want everything about me to point to You, and I know how miserably I fall short. Help, help, help!!!!

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)
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All the Days of Her Life

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
~Proverbs 31:12

This is not just a Hallmark card for Mother’s Day, where Lemuel signs his name beneath a few lines about how his wife is a good one, and yada yada. Cards like that always extol the mother as amazingly kind, endlessly patient, infinitely loving, and remarkably sacrificial because that’s just what you’re supposed to say on Mother’s Day. Whether it’s really true, whether the family really feels that way about the mom, and whether anyone else would agree with these superlatives really doesn’t matter because it’s Mother’s Day. It’s what you do.

Well, this is not that card, and this is not that family. This woman’s character is so solid that her children rise and call her blessed (apparently without prompting?), and her husband sincerely treasures and honors her above all other women — not just one day a year when teachers remind kids, kids remind dads, and dads grab whatever leftover card they can find at Kroger on the way home! It’s sincere appreciation for a sincere woman who works with a selfless heart, consistently and deliberately.

Consistently and deliberately. You have to WORK at this, ladies! You have to continually ask Jesus to help you die to your fleshly desires. You have to seek out ways to do good and not evil. And you have to constantly be on the lookout for those little evils — things that you really wouldn’t call evil, because they’re just so little, and because evil is really such a strong word, but honestly those things aren’t doing any good. So, they’re evil if they’re not good.

Good = Benefit

She benefits him all the days of her life. ALL the days of her life. Interesting. Even before she marries him! I lived 23 years of my life before I had a husband. When I was just 18, I highlighted that phrase, “all the days of her life,” in my Bible and wrote next to it: “I am to honor my precious husband now.” I wasn’t married. I wasn’t even dating my husband-to-be; we hadn’t met. But I knew that in a way, I owed something to him, to the man who would someday become one flesh with me. (Of course, I failed miserably at my limited definition of what honoring my husband meant! Oh, how thankful I am for grace!)

I look at this verse now with slightly older eyes, and with a completely different perspective. Then, I was working full-time in a cubicle and getting ready to get my own place and start college courses. I was in the single’s ministry at church. I really wanted a boyfriend. (Like, really.) Now, I have my prince. I had no idea then that I’d meet him at 19! I now have over ten years’ experience learning to love him like Christ calls me to, which is infinitely more than what comes easily to one who is in love (grace upon grace — I am still just fair to middling in this area, but I am learning). I have lived in several different cities in two states, I have had five different jobs, and now I’m a homemaker and mother to the coolest baby on earth. Now I see my marriage, my motherhood, and my home as my ministry and my biggest calling. Now I am opening my eyes to how the Lord is showing me what is good and what is evil, and sometimes the differences are very subtle. Often, Biblical womanhood, wifery, and motherhood are completely belittled by our culture. (Time to re-evaluate who you’re listening to and following on social media. That’s just extra, free advice.)

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Wow.

This beautiful verse rounds out the introduction of this treatise on an excellent woman. The two previous verses speak of how rare and trustworthy she is, while this one praises her consistent, selfless good works, but thankfully the tribute doesn’t end there! These three verses clearly lay out for the reader exactly how amazing this Jewel is, and then the remainder of the passage will give specific examples showing how she lives it out. I can’t wait!

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, oh she is so very rare. Do not settle for less, though. You will know she is the right type of woman if she is seeking to do everyone good instead of evil. You see, young love is beautiful and fun and carefree, and sometimes deceptive. She may adore you and dote on you now, but how does she treat her little sister? How does she act when her boss isn’t looking? You see, all that fire and excitement will change over the years; it always does. You’ll become common, in a way. And honestly, sometimes we women are guilty of treating our men worse than anyone else because we become so comfortable in the common, and we too easily take the common blessings for granted. If she is not that rare kind of woman, she will not fight this inevitable drift in her sinful heart; she will defend it. She will blame you. She will list out her merits and say that you just don’t appreciate her, and she will get a whole gaggle of stiff-necked women to agree with her. That’s our culture. It has built itself around the sinful desires of the human heart, planted a flag, and is now handing out chocolates. That rare jewel will ask what they’re selling before eating the chocolate, and then she’ll go home and check her Bible. She seeks to do good and not evil, she is other-centered, and she is worth waiting for.

My Love, I am completely NOT the woman I just described to Bennett! I know it! But because I desire to become her, I believe the Lord is helping me to change. Little by little, I am truly learning how to think of myself less. When I think about how much time I have wasted in my life seeking my own happiness to the exclusion of yours, I am ashamed. Knowing I so easily default to this way of thinking without even realizing it, I am overwhelmed. But knowing that I am married to a gracious, godly husband who is leading me into deeper relationship with our Lord, I am encouraged! Jesus isn’t through with me yet!

My Lord, You are so good. As I have been meditating on Your sacrifice this Holy Week, I have been inspired and astounded by what You — the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the One to whom every knee will bow — desire. It’s so blessedly simple, sacrificial, and selfless. How is it that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom? How could You want so badly to save me that You would lay down Your life for me?  I have been so blessed by John Piper’s Holy Week devotional:

Remember, when you think of Jesus’s resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this, and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion, was not easy. It was hard.

We need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don’t know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Teach me to love like that. 

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

Not a Misandrist

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
~Proverbs 31:11

Just a few decades ago, the fight against male chauvinism was a fierce one. Women fought for respect and equality, and while there were many noble intentions garnering intrinsic rights that I’m sure I take for granted today, there were also some sinister consequences. The biggest is abortion, but that’s a topic for another post. A very big consequence is the heartbreaking and marriage-killing pervasiveness of female chauvinism, or misandry.

Misandry is misogyny’s counterpart. While a misogynist could be found belittling, exploiting, ignoring, using, and/or abusing women, so behaves the misandrist toward men. And just as many men who would be accused of misogyny are married or have intimate relationships with women, many misandrists are married or intimate with men. Both would hotly deny the accusation that they hate the opposite sex, but their attitudes, actions, and words tell a different story. Misandry has become part of our culture, and many women — including Christian women — treat their husbands disrespectfully. It’s just so socially accepted and normal to belittle men that I think many wives don’t even realize it’s happening.

But look at how sweet Jewel the queen is described in the verse above! Lemuel trusts her implicitly, and has no lack of gain in any area of his life:

  1. Financially — She doesn’t say, “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” She doesn’t make excuses. She doesn’t waste money. A man married to a woman like her doesn’t have to hold his breath every time the credit card statement comes in the mail. (And in fact, he sees every bill because she doesn’t hide it from him.) She watches her spending and questions every purchase in her mind. Instead of making excuses for compulsive purchases, she pauses and asks herself, “Do we need this? Do we have the money for this? Even if we have the money for this, could I spend this money in a more useful way, or could I find a better deal somewhere else?” Some people call this being cheap, but it’s actually being wise. You’re guarding your heart, your mind, your marriage, and your livelihood by thinking this way. More on this in another post.
  2. Spiritually — She doesn’t gripe, “He’s just not being a spiritual leader,” all the while stomping all over him and usurping his leadership. She is a spiritual encourager. She is an example to him by being a faithful follower of Christ, but she doesn’t lord it over him or use it to point out his failings. She is careful not to help him chase idols. Ladies, we have incredible spiritual influence over our husbands (just ask King Solomon), but we must be gentle, humble, and quick to notice our own shortcomings instead of focusing on our husbands’. A sweet spirit goes a long way, but a nagging spirit is counterproductive.
  3. Sexually — She doesn’t say, “Oh, he knows who I’m coming home to!” when someone looks sideways at her for wanting to gather together with girlfriends and watch some very attractive actors stripping, or to discuss the “plot and characterization” of the latest sado-masochist best-seller. She recognizes explicit movies and erotic literature for what they are: pornography. She is completely faithful to her husband, recognizing that excuses about how this “entertainment” is fake and how it has improved her sex life is tantamount to giving her husband $500 in ones to blow at a strip club, with the only stipulation being that he spend his climax on her when he gets home. Um, nope. That’s so degrading to women!! How horrible! Exactly. It goes both ways. Besides, it doesn’t feel good to anyone to know that your spouse is more aroused by someone else, and only interested in you one night because of that someone else, whether that someone is fictional or not. The Proverbs 31 Woman has eyes and a heart only for her husband, and he feels completely loved and accepted by her sexually. (Yes, our men need and deserve that security, too.) So hopefully, it goes without saying that this woman also doesn’t say, “I have a headache,” kind of ever. 
  4. Emotionally — She doesn’t say, “Oh be a man!” with her words, her attitude, her expression, or her tone. Ever. He can share any thought, feeling, emotion, or insecurity, and know that his wife still respects him and loves him, and that she will never share his deepest confidences with anyone else. He doesn’t even have to ask her not to tell anyone; she just knows. This emotional trust ties in very closely with #5:
  5. Publicly — I’ll be talking more about this in a later post, but generally she doesn’t mock him, belittle him, give him attitude, or talk poorly about him in public. Her husband can trust that “playgroup” and “ladies’ night” are not simply code names for bashing sessions. (Sadly, too many of these gatherings are exactly that. My advice to you if that describes your group is to say no to your “friends” and to honor your husband by staying home instead!) When he makes a mistake, or needs help doing something, she doesn’t speak to him like he’s an idiot. She doesn’t roll her eyes. She doesn’t sigh, snap, speak harshly, or visibly simmer as she responds. She recognizes in him the man that she loves, and she helps him when he needs help, and that with patience, understanding, and kindness. (I mean, could you perfectly do everything he is good at, completely without his help?)

Where do you see yourself in the descriptions above? Remember, don’t just assume that you’re an excellent wife. Let the verse settle into your heart and ask God to help you see yourself and your marriage objectively. Are you as completely trustworthy as Jewel? Can your husband say that in all of the areas above, he has “no lack of gain”? I personally find this all very convicting; I don’t know about you. It’s too easy to let my politeness “fizzle” by the end of the day and snip and snap at the man who slays dragons for me every day. We all struggle with this to some extent, but let’s not let that be an excuse to tear down our men and our marriages, ladies! This is not “stress.” This is not “exhaustion.” This is not “frustration.” This is not justifiable in any way; this is sin, and it needs to be repented of and dealt with. Let’s let this verse settle into our hearts, searching out the truth and teaching us how to bless our husbands!

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, if you cannot trust her when you’re dating, it will not get better after you marry her. You should have absolutely no reservations about her faithfulness, her trustworthiness, and her passion for honoring, loving, and encouraging you. If you do, do not marry her. Better to be single than in a marriage with a woman whom you can’t trust.

My Love, you deserve a Jewel of a wife. I am definitely not her, but I pray that as we grow in our marriage I will become more and more like her! Please forgive me for ways I have disrespected you or hurt you, and know that I am committed to becoming a Jewel as I press more into Jesus and allow Him to chip away my impurities.

My Lord, teach me integrity! Change my heart and rid me of selfishness. I know I fail You and my husband daily, but I know that You are bigger than my sin!

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

A Rare Jewel

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
~Proverbs 31:10

My immediate thoughts upon reading this:

  1. Not every wife is excellent. 
  2. Most men do not have excellent wives.
  3. Don’t assume that you are an excellent wife.

(Before I expound on my three points above, I want to make mention of a very important translation issue. The word translated as “wife” can simply mean “woman.” In fact, it does. It means woman, wife, or female. So if you are a single woman reading this, please do not think that this post — or more importantly, the entire 31st chapter of Proverbs — does not apply to you; it does! I will be looking at this chapter primarily through the lens of a wife, since I am one, but please know that this is not a part of the Bible that you should feel excluded from. It’s all about you, too, and your thoughts are most welcome!) 

As a Christian wife, I am pretty familiar with Proverbs 31. I have a few of the verses memorized, and I remind myself of them frequently. However, I’ve never taken each verse individually and really chewed on it like I did with this one. And it really hit me.

I think my first two points can be taken together, because everyone would agree that not every wife is excellent. Go ahead — take a moment and think of one or two wives who are decidedly not excellent. There’s the woman who carries on an emotional affair with a co-worker, or the one who abandoned her family, or even the one you saw on TV who killed her husband so she could take his money and run off with a lover. It’s no surprise that there are terrible wives out there, but perhaps my second point was a little more abrasive. Most men don’t have excellent wives. If they did, why would the writer wonder who could find an excellent woman? If most wives were excellent, this would be a silly question!

Let’s look at the word “excellent.” Other versions may translate that word as “virtuous” or “capable.” It’s actually the same word (different part of speech) that is used in Lemuel’s mother’s oracle in verse three of the same chapter:

Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.

This same word is translated as “strength” in just about every version I looked up. (It’s Strong’s #2428, if you’re interested.) In any case, I think the word “excellence” really captures the idea, and its meaning is expounded upon in the subsequent 21 verses. In every area of responsibility, character, and virtue, she excels. She is rare. She is more worthy than jewels. In some translations, it says pearls or rubies. Same idea.

Do you know what else in the Bible is more valuable than these types of treasures? Wisdom:

For wisdom is better than jewels;
And all desirable things cannot compare with her.
(Proverbs 8:11)

And the Kingdom of Heaven:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
(Matthew 13:45-46)

Wow, ladies! Rare indeed. So that brings us to my third and most sobering point. Don’t assume you are an excellent wife. If most men do not have excellent wives, it then follows that most wives are not excellent. This doesn’t mean that many wives are not generally good, fulfilling responsibilities, staying faithful, and loving their children. But aren’t these basic requirements of being a wife? Isn’t that just part of the definition? So doing them does not make you excellent. Excelling in them makes you excellent! To excel, once again by definition, means that you’re better at it than most other people. So, most wives are not excellent. Let’s approach the rest of this chapter with hearts open to God so that we might attain this goal of becoming a truly rare jewel!

I love this verse so much that I am naming this woman “Jewel” in honor of it. Lemuel and Jewel — we have much to learn from them! 🙂

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, a good woman is exceedingly rare. You must search for her, refusing to settle for someone who’s just a nice person. But of course, you must be the kind of man such a woman would bother to look twice at!

My Love, I was not the kind of woman when we met that I hope for Bennett. I praise God that you saw goodness in me, and a true heart. I knew right away that I had better not let you go, and your presence in my life has made me a better woman. May I learn more every day what it is to be a truly excellent woman, and may I have the moxie to become her!

My Lord, who am I — or who could I be — that You would value me? Yet I know that You love me just because I am Yours. Yet press me, refine me, make me a treasure indeed.

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

More Advice from Mom

(Maybe.) Because my Bible titles Proverbs 31:1-9 “The Words of Lemuel” and then verses 10-31 “Description of a Worthy Woman,” I treated only those first few verses as the oracle from Lemuel’s mom (it seems that’s a pretty common approach). Well, that may not be so. It could be that the entire chapter is the oracle!

That’s pretty awesome if it is. First of all, it just makes Lemuel’s mother even more special. She didn’t just model for her son what a virtuous woman looked like, but she intentionally wrote out examples — according to a Hebrew acrostic for “easy” memorization — and painstakingly taught it to her child! Acrostic or no, that’s still a lot to memorize, which is the second reason I think it’s awesome if it’s part of the mother’s oracle. Lemuel memorized all of it! I hope he found himself the kind of wife his mother would approve of! I hope that both for Lemuel, who would have to hear it from his mom if she was still alive, and I also hope it for his wife, who might have had to wake to these little verses whispered in her ear if she stayed in bed past dawn. Sheesh!

Whether it’s part of the oracle or not is unclear, but I like the idea. I will be studying, meditating, and blogging through the remainder of this chapter verse by verse in the coming days and weeks. While I have no specific timetable for this, I would think I will publish no fewer than one or two posts per week. As I examine each verse, I will be keeping these ideas in mind:

  1. Lemuel’s mother was intentional about teaching her son how to select a spouse.
    How can I be intentional about teaching my son the same thing?
  2. This is not a list of absolute standards, but a beautiful example of a very valuable and cherished wife.
    What steps can I take to move closer to this excellent goal?
  3. The Bible presents Christian marriage as a symbol of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
    (Christ : Bridegroom :: Church : Bride)
    How can these verses be translated into the Christian life and relationship with the Lord?

I’m excited about this journey, and I would love to read your thoughts as you read along! Blessings!

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

My Oracle for Bennett

In my last post, I asked you what would be in your oracle, if you made one, for your child(ren). Well, I wrote one.

Now before some of you get excited, (“Oh! She’s a writer! I’ve never read one of her poems before!), let me caution you: I am not a poet. I don’t try to be a poet. My “poems” are ALWAYS totally free verse. It will be immediately obvious that any attempt at discovering meter or rhyme in this oracle is futile. So, this is just my oracle, so shaped to look like a poem at first glance. 😉

(And I plagiarized the first stanza.)

What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

Do not waste your life!
Do not squander your gifts and talents!
Give yourself to the Lord God Almighty;
Serve Him and love Him with all that you are.
There is no god beside Him,
And in Jesus alone is your salvation.

Be courageous in living and sharing your faith.
Do not be timid, but open your mouth!
Speak the truth, that more might be rescued!

Have integrity.
Do not speak and act so as to be seen and respected by mere man.

Love the Lord.
Be His faithful servant in the farthest corners of your heart.

Honor God.
Remember him even through the darkest watches of the night.

Be merciful.
Remember who you are and Who gives you your strength.

Again I say, do not waste your life!
Discover your gifts, and be a blessing to others.
As your name is Blessed, so be a blessing.

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

Wishes and Warnings

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.
Proverbs 22:6

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?

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)