Pastor’s Desk July 27th

Scripture Passage:  “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.”  Proverbs 31:1

Dear Friends,

     Today I am writing my last pastor’s page.  What started seven years ago has come to a conclusion.  My mother has a copy of every one of them.  I gave her a notebook with that years writings for Christmas each year.  She treasures each one of them and down through the years I hope you have enjoyed them also.  I also pray that in some way, they have touched your life and made it a little brighter and better.  This year I decided to take a few verses from each chapter in the Book of Proverbs and cover them each week.  This is week thirty-one and we are on the last chapter. 

     Chapter 31 of the Book of Proverbs is known for its discourse on the description and value of a virtuous woman.  I have written about it and preached it many times, but I have never paid much attention to verses 1-9.  Who is this king Lemuel and what did his mother teach him?  We know that she taught him about a virtuous woman, but what else did she teach him?  Let us look and see.

     Ancient Jewish tradition identified King Lemuel as King Solomon.  Outside that tradition, little is known.  According to the ESV Study Bible, no one knows who Lemuel was, or where he was king.  Most suppose that he was not an Israelite. The support for this comes from the fact that the word for son in 31:2 and kings in 31:3b have Aramaic spellings.  With the absence of the special name Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, it would be consistent with the idea that a non-Israelite wrote it.  Lemuel’s mother told him that his reign should be characterized by holiness, sobriety, and compassion.  Momma was trying to warn him that there would be vices he would be particularly susceptible to. 

     Every man and woman has “a sin” that does so easily beset them.  For most men it is the sin of sexual immorality.  The plural word women in verse 3 reminds the king that he does not need more than one wife, nor does he need a harem.  He does not need to allow unrighteous desires and sexual lust to dominate his life.  Neither does he need to allow jealousy and bitterness to dominate his thoughts.  Being holy is so much more than being sexually pure, it is also being spiritually pure. Peter reminded the 1st century church of God’s words to the people of Israel in Leviticus 11:44.  “Be holy; for I am holy.”  (I Peter 1:16)  Lemuel’s mother knew that the key to success for her son lay in his relationship with God. 

     The second word of advice from his mother was for him to remain sober. Vs. 4-7   The word sober in Hebrew has dual meanings.  It can mean do not be drunk with intoxicating drink.  That is clearly the meaning in this text.  If you are intoxicated, you are not going to make wise and rational decisions.  The entire nation is dependent upon your keeping a clear head. The other meaning is to stay under control.  You can see how both meanings come into play.  There is a time and place for everything according to Lemuel’s mother.  Alcohol can be used for medicinal purposes for a dying person agonizing in pain or one suffering from a tragic circumstance.  Outside of that, Lemuel would do well to stay away from it. 

     The final bit of advice was to be a man of compassion. Vs. 8-9     A good leader must be able to empathize with his people.  He must be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.  He must be able to judge righteously and treat everyone the same.  From the poorest to the richest, from the newborn, to the dying, he must represent them all and judge according to God’s standard.  If Lemuel would live by these standards, he would rule well and be blessed by God.  Maybe even with a wonderful wife to stand beside him.

In Christ,

Pastor Johnny