Category Archives: Parenting

My Daughters

Proverbs 31:29 

“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

What Matters

Over the years I have met many people. Sadly, many of those cared not about the virtues praised in this chapter, only fame, popularity, wealth, and beauty. Parents are often more concerned with whether or not their daughters make the team, wear the crown, win the ribbon, get the rich husband, or fit into that certain dress.


Alicia on her wedding day.

However, I don’t care so much about all those things. Sure, I want my daughters to be liked and well-off. It even makes me swell with pride when they win awards or turn heads with a glamorous gown. What matters to me is that they become women of honor, courage, strength, and faith. What matters most is that they honor God.


Unfortunately, most girls get praised for being sexy, selfish, and seductive. Instead of praising the hard-working woman who is faithful to her husband and God, who takes care of her family, we tune in each week to reality shows that make millionaires out of harlots and place a premium on vanity, not virtue.

Haley and Katie @ Bryan College

Moms and dads, husbands, it is our responsibility to praise the woman “that feareth the Lord” (31:30). Whether they be young and in school, or mothers and grandmothers, our “daughters” should be praised for doing “virtuously.” And what higher praise could there be than to say, “Of all the virtuous, godly, Proverbs 31-like women in the world, you are the best“?

That is the praise my wife desires. That’s the praise I hope to teach my daughters to seek.



The Best-Dressed Family

Proverbs 31:21

“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

The Best

This proverb is about a mother, a wife, a woman who is not afraid of the weather forecast, for she has already made plans for the cold. But even more, it’s about a proud (in a good sense) and resourceful mother who cares enough to clothe her family with the highest quality garments.

Most people are unfamiliar with with how costly the colors scarlet and purple were back in biblical times. They are also typically unaware of the quality of garments treated with these dyes. Without going into too much detail, just to put things in perspective, to dye a shirt purple back in those days could cost the equivalent of $1,000 in today’s money. The rarity of true purple dye, the kind used for royalty, is hard for the modern mind to comprehend.

And what’s more, the dye that was used was known to preserve garments. It is reported that when Alexander the Great rode into Susa, he was presented with a scarlet robe found in one of the palaces. It was said to have been hundreds of years old, yet in perfect condition due to the preserving qualities of the dye.

She Cared

Maybe it would help if we considered what a Proverbs 31 woman is NOT. The anti-thesis of the woman in this proverb could care less how her family looks in public. She would buy the cheapest quality, even though she had money to do otherwise. She would let the kids dress themselves without concerning herself about rain, snow, or the looks of others. Essentially, she could care less about her own appearance, so why bother with her family.

I’ll never forget how my wife, when buying shoes for our children, would take them to a quality shoe store. She used to say, “I know they’re expensive, but good shoes are better for their feet…and better shoes last longer.” She invested in our children’s health. Or, as a certain greeting card company would say, she cared enough to give the best.

The Best You Have

Now, not everyone can afford “the best.” To be the best wife does not mean one has to be the richest or most stylish. The virtuous woman does not have to have access to the highest quality money can buy.

However, a good woman cares about her family, not only in how they are prepared, but how others see them. She understands that how her household is dressed is not only a reflection on herself, but on her husband as well. She does her best to send the message that her household is one that not only takes care of each other, but does it with style.

After all, a good wife is better than a queen, so why not dress her children like royalty?

Planting a Vineyard

Proverbs 31:10,16 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies….
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

P1010626 copyMy wife is blessed with many gifts, talents, and abilities, but growing or sustaining green things is not one of them. While there is little chance that Marilyn would consider buying a field and planting a vineyard, the fruit of her hands is evident in many other ways. For a start, there are the five children she has raised, and two grandchildren she also pours out her love upon. Then there are the other lives she has touched in so many different ways. Most of the time folk wouldn’t even know that Marilyn is there because she prefers to work away quietly in the background. You won’t find Marilyn up on the stage at church, but you will see her serving coffee and tea in the lobby to welcome people to the morning service, and she is often busy behind the scenes in the church kitchen, or producing cakes in huge quantities for church events, and as gifts to people she loves. And she is the same outside of home and church.

The fruit of Marilyn’s hands is evident in my life too. I cannot place a value on her loving support over nearly thirty-five years of marriage. If I consider the investment Marilyn has made in being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, then it could be compared to a field. Marilyn has taken that field and transformed it, and through the fruit of her hands she has benefited the lives of many. Without knowing it she has set an example. Without deliberately seeking to demonstrate the love of God through her life, she has done just that. Quietly, effectively, and always without seeking acknowledgment or praise.

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

Give Them Wine

Proverbs 31:6-7

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

Debate Addressed 

Chris Jordan did an excellent job of dealing with 31:4 and 5. With wisdom and tact, he expressed both sides of the alcohol debate, ultimately showing that “under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial.”

My Baptist upbringing was one that left little room for debate on this subject. It was only after a lengthy (before computers) study of the word “wine” as used in the Bible did I begin to realize that there may be more to the debate than a simple black-and-white, drink-or-not-drink argument. Even king Lemuel’s mother understood there were times when alcohol could be useful (and not just in cough syrup).

The Perishing

Just today, not more than a few hours before writing this, I stood beside the hospital bed of a man in pain, a man dying. Cancer had taken over his body, his breathing and heart rate were rapid, and his mouth was dry. The family was standing around crying as they waited for the inevitable.

As I stood beside him, a nurse came in with a sponge on a little stick and placed it in some ice water, then put it in the man’s mouth. At that moment one family member said, “What he really wants is a milkshake.” Then the man’s sister said, “He should get whatever he wants.” Had he wanted a shot of Jack Daniels, they should have given it to him! He will be dead long before you, the reader, read this.

If alcohol was a sin (not just the consumption of it), then it would have been wrong for Lemuel’s mother to suggest giving strong drink to him that is “perishing.” But the king’s wise mother understood that when a man is at the end of his life or even the ends of his ropes, something that will ease his pain, or lift his spirit, is perfectly appropriate in moderation. But is to be used as a temporary remedy, one that can help one deal with his situation, not completely hide from it.

A Giving King

But there is even a deeper message in all this. What kind of king keeps hoards his wealth when his subjects are suffering? What kind of leader draws comfort from his cellars, while the poor search in vain for relief from their heavy hearts?

“Look at all you have,” Lemuel’s mother might say. “You have more than you need, and you don’t even need what you have. Therefore, open up your wine cellar; give to those who are perishing; lift the spirits of those who are discouraged; and lead your kingdom with clarity and compassion.”

Wouldn’t it be great if more kings, queens, presidents, and politicians would think less about what makes them happy, less about their own ambitions, and more about the needs of others? Most are drunk with the wine of power, forgetting the law and perverting judgment, while the powerless suffer.

The King’s Beverage

Proverbs 31:4-7

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:  Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.  Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”


As a life-long Baptist, I know that I am treading on thin ice when I tackle this passage. There are many within my denomination who are what we call “teetotalers,” which is a term for those who will never touch a drop of beverage alcohol. And because of this, if I say anything positive about alcohol I am likely to be censured.

On the other hand, there are whole denominations within the Christian faith that have no problem with drinking beer, wine, or whatever suits their fancy, even purchasing wineries with tithes and offerings. For the record, I don’t approve of going that far.

However, I do feel that there is more to the subject of drinking alcohol than totally abstaining or totally imbibing. Wisdom is the key. And that is why, as we look at the verses above, we can see that king Lemuel’s mother was evidently not a proponent of “teetotalism” (total abstinence), but rather a developer of wisdom in a son who was destined to lead.

Not for Kings

There are several things this godly mother warns her son about in the first part of this chapter, but much of her focus is on the use of alcohol. Why is that? Could it be that alcohol is a dangerous, mind altering, inhibition-destroying drug? Could it be that even though it may have its uses, a leader worth his salt is wise enough to avoid it?

Plenty of men and women from all walks of life have been able to drink alcohol with little or no adverse consequences. However, the gutters of history are strewn with the carcasses of leaders who drank away their kingdoms. The broken hearts and ruined lives caused by drunkeness are innumerable.

I can envision a young prince Lemuel, his mother’s hand on his shoulder, as they walked by the equivalent of a modern bar. As they peeked in on the raucous behavior brought about by the effects of wine and strong drink, she may have whispered in his ear the words he later penned: “It’s not for kings, my dear Lemuel, it’s not for kings; nor even when you’re just a prince.”

Proper Place

Even though a king, a man whose decisions carry so much weight, should avoid strong drink, king Lemuel’s mother, and thereby king Lemuel himself, knew that there was a time and place for it. You see, wine has the dangerous ability to make one “forget law” and “pervert judgment,” but it also has the ability to lift a heavy heart, to numb the pain.

Warnings against wine are plenty, but king David declares that God creates the “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Psa. 104:15). The key is to not only know its proper place, but the proper place of the one who must choose.

Wisdom should be the king’s beverage of choice.

A Mother’s Advice

Proverbs 31:1-3 

“The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

Lemuel’s Words

For most of Proverbs we have read the words of King Solomon, son of David. Now, in the last chapter, we read the words of king Lemuel, of whom we know nothing about. Some go as far as suggesting that Lemuel is another name for Solomon, but there is no way of knowing.

Why is it, then, that we have the words of another king? Wasn’t Solomon the wisest man to live? Yes, but even Solomon was wise enough to recognize wisdom in others. It may be (and this is only conjecture) that Solomon included these words of Lemuel, along with Agur, because he thought, “I couldn’t have said it any better…My thoughts, exactly!”

On the other hand, could it be that the compiler of Proverbs wanted to insert wisdom that Solomon would not, or could not have penned? Was it not Solomon who gave his strength to women? Could Proverbs 31 be a final warning to would-be kings that even though wealth and wisdom may be desirable, the wisdom of a godly mother is priceless? Just a thought.

A Godly Mother

Notice that this chapter starts out by saying, “The words of king Lemuel…” But notice, also, that the words of king Lemuel are actually the teachings, the advice of a mother who loved him, who felt for him, and who devoted him to God.

In verse 2 Lemuel’s mother describes him as her son, the son of her womb, and the son of her vows. Here is expressed a natural love that a mother has for her child; there is a deeper love that connects in a physical, pain-feeling way; and there is a love expressed in the fact that Lemuel was a son, probably like Samuel, who was dedicated to God. Why shouldn’t we listen to what she has to say?

Needed Mothers

There are probably numerous ways one could apply the third verse. However, I can’t help but think Lemuel’s mother is calling upon her son to remember who he is. God is also calling us to remember who we are.

“You are a man,” she said. “You are a king!” Oh, how we need more mothers to encourage their son’s masculinity…their leadership potential…their status as “kings.” But needed, even more, are mothers who would warn their sons of the dangers of the fairer sex. We need fathers, but we also need mothers who will shoot straight with their sons and tell it like it is: the wrong women can destroy you, and your kingdom.

I am thankful, not only for a godly father, but for a godly mother who loved me enough to teach me truth…to warn me…to beat my butt when I needed it. I’m thankful for a mother who said, “Listen! Be a man…be a king.”

There are strength-sappers and king-destroyers out there. Warn your son, mom, before it’s too late.

Beware the Birds

Proverbs 30:17.

“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (KJV).

Family Devotions:

My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and we have four children that are now between the ages of 12 and 17. From the time they were young, we have always made our family devotion time a priority. No matter how busy our lives get, we always endeavour to gather together around the table at dinner time to share a meal together, connect, pray and read the Bible together. Sometimes we have read through a family devotional booklet, and other times we have simply read through a passage right out of the Bible and discussed it together.

When our children were much younger, we were reading through a little devotional booklet with wisdom Scriptures from the book of Proverbs. During that time, we came across the above Scripture from Proverbs 30:17. We told our kids, “You better make sure you don’t give your parents a dirty look, or the birds will come and pluck out your eyes!” Raised eyebrows and pensive glances soon followed, and I’m sure at least one of them was wondering if that would really happen. For some reason, this became one of their favourite Bible verses – or, at least one that they talked about the most!

Understanding Wisdom Literature:

From the time I graduated from Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC in 1999, I taught there as an adjunct professor of Bible Research and Hermeneutics until I moved to Manitoba in 2007. One of the textbooks I used for my Hermeneutics class was Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This excellent little volume explains how to accurately interpret the different genres of Bible literature – history, poetry, epistle, apocalyptic literature and the like.

In this book, they wrote: “The Book of Proverbs is the primary locus of prudential wisdom – that is, rules and regulations people can use to help themselves make responsible, successful choices in life… Proverbs teaches what might be called old fashioned basic values.” They also go on to explain that the Proverbs are generalizations, that is, that they express the normal course of events, and therefore, they are not to be viewed as absolute divine promises or guarantees. In other words, if you mock your parents or disobey them, this doesn’t literally mean that a bird will come and pluck your eye out. So what is this Scripture saying then?

In simplest terms, Proverbs is saying that it is wrong, bad and sinful to disrespect or dishonour your parents. Although there may not be an immediate consequence, sooner or later, you are going to reap a negative result in your life for sowing the seeds of rebellion. The wages of sin, the Bible warns us, is death. So don’t mock your parents! Honour, obey and respect them, and God will bless you for it.