Scripture reading – Proverbs 31, 1 Kings 12

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The “virtuous woman” is the subject of Proverbs 31, perhaps the most beloved of all the Proverbs because it addresses the most central figure in life apart from our Creator—one’s mother. Like Chapter 30, the authorship of Proverbs 31 has been debated down through the centuries; however, I feel there is much about this chapter that commends itself to having been authored by King Solomon. [Author’s note – A second devotional for 1 Kings 12 will follow.]

 

Proverbs 31:1 – “The words [discourse; law] of king Lemuel, the prophecy [burden; tribute] that his mother taught him [instructed; discipline; chasten].”

There is no record of a king named Lemuel in ancient Israel or Judah, and many scholars believe Lemuel might have been a nickname Bathsheba gave to her son Solomon. Having lost her firstborn son in infancy, the one she conceived in an act of adultery with David, we can understand why Bathsheba would dedicate Solomon to God and, in her heart, name him Lemuel (the literal meaning of Lemuel is “unto God” –lit. devoted to God).

Son of My Womb

For our devotional studies in Proverbs, I propose we view this chapter as Solomon’s memorial to his mother.

 

Proverbs 31:2 records the Queen Mother’s appeal to her son in a three-fold question:

 

Please permit me to probe the meaning of the three questions the king’s mother proposed.

 

1) “What my son?” (31:2a) – i.e., – What more can I say to you, my son and king?

 

2) “What, the son of my womb?” (31:2b) – She reminded the king that she knew him in her womb before he drew his first breath. She gave him life and loved him as no one else could love him.

 

3) “What, the son of my vows?” (31:2c) – In the same way Hannah dedicated her son Samuel to the LORD (1 Samuel 1:11), Lemuel’s mother dedicated her son while he was in her womb. She remembered the first stirrings of his life and how she prayed for him. She dedicated him in her heart to serve the Lord!

 

We are not told what moved the king’s mother to make an impassioned plea to her son. Perhaps her motherly instincts sensed the moral dangers Lemuel would face. She knew all too well the temptations that beset a man of power, possessions, and popularity. The Queen mother’s plea resonated in her son’s heart, and he memorialized her virtuous qualities as an example for all women.

Mother comforting son

Closing thoughts –

 

Someone said, “The greatest moral power in the world is exercised by a mother over her child.” John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, said regarding his mother, “All that I am, or ever have been, in this world, I owe, under God, to my mother.”

 

I close by encouraging you to read Proverbs 31 in its entirety. I pray the king’s praise of his mother will move husbands, sons, and daughters to thank the LORD for loving mothers and encourage them to honor them with words of affirmation and thanksgiving.

 

Finally, in a day desperate for a moral compass, I pray there will be mothers who have been inspired by the king’s praise of his mother to aspire to the qualities of that virtuous woman. (Proverbs 31:28-31)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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