A devotion on Proverbs 31:1-15
The words of King Lemuel, an oracle that his mother taught him:
An oracle is a prophecy (teaching or foretelling) or an utterance. This mother did not start these lessons when he was an adult. I posit that a mother’s lap is the best foundation for her instruction. To miss that window of teaching time and hope to instill it when the child is older is like building a magnificent house then trying to raise it to insert a basement after the house is complete. It is doable, but it is mighty tricky. The tragedy, as I can attest due to my children’s ages, is how fast their childhood transpires and how truly narrow that window of teaching time is. After they are six or seven, all a parent is doing in reinforcing lessons already learned.
- What should I say, my son? What, son of my womb? What, son of my vows?
You don’t have a son, you say? Not one of your womb? You can have one of intention. While Lemuel was likely a son that his mother prayed for before she had him and possibly pre-committed him to the Lord if the Lord should provide the son, we can do so spiritually. We can ask for spiritual children to influence and pour our lives into.
Let us revisit the purpose of the book of Proverbs as we saw in its introduction:
“…for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables, The sayings and riddles of the wise.”
Prudence is a progressive, step by step concept. This is how we develop it:
- Pay attention to a matter. This calls for alertness or vigilance.
- Consider the matter, turning it this way and that, collecting and analyzing information.
- Make a judgement on the matter (hindsight, insight, and foresight.)
- Comprehend the matter and make adjustments as you get more information.
- Engage in circumspect action.
For every important issue in your life, pray for and practice this quality of prudence with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Pr. 31:3 Don’t spend your energy on women or your efforts on those who destroy kings.
KJV uses the word strength – Chayil, instead of ‘energy.’ It refers to might or wealth. It is your power, your substance, your ability, your very life force. In place of ‘efforts’, KJV uses ‘ways’ – derek. This refers to a trodden road, a manner, a course of life. I infer that the latter is habitual by dint of repetition.
Sexual lust is the underlying subject here (remember that lust is merely a desire.) Lemuel’s mama is saying, with earnest, “Son, learn to master your desires.” Women may be beautiful and tantalizing. They may throw themselves at you. Learn early to say, “no” not just to them, but more importantly, to yourself. You don’t have to have everything your heart desires just because you want it and can get it. That little word, “no” is the key to your chayil.
In every single addiction your desire drips a stream of gasoline and your “yes” is a flame.hannah tk
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to desire beer.
This section tackles the lure of inebriation. We saw addressed in Proverbs 23.
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!
In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging.
“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”” Pr. 23:31-35.
This is not what Lemuel’s mama wants for him. She sees past the honey and oil stage of temptation to the end result: blood-shot, black-eyes and a staggering, bumbling fool to wear them. Not when you have the Chayil of a king, mighty one; this is not you!
5 Otherwise, they will drink, forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed.
Believer, your calling to what is right and just and fair calls for prudence. The road of inebriation never, ever reaches the land of prudence. It is a one way highway in the opposite direction. Strong drink will impair your mentation and hamstring your calling.
6 Give beer to one who is dying and wine to one whose life is bitter.
7 Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more.
On the one hand, a concession is made here for the excruciating process of dying. Mind-altering substances have their place in relieving terminal pain so one can endure the sometimes languishing process of the body shutting down as it needs to. On the other hand, the problem with using wine for the “bitter life” is that anyone can attempt to make a case for their life being bitter. My advice is to say “no” to this viper’s bite. With habitual alcohol use, if your life was not bitter before, it will be after for many a reason.
What is a better prescription for the bitter life, you ask? “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:17-19. Resulting endorphin and dopamine levels will be just as high if not higher, and you won’t spend the morning wondering who hit you.
8 Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
9 Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.
Today, how can you speak up for justice (revisit the steps to prudence)? Who can you identify as having no voice? How can you defend their cause?