Tag Archives: Proverbs 31

Underdog flies again!

Proverbs 31 gives a standard worthy of more than a mere perusal, considering the underdog status of women in that day.

Why am I always rooting for the underdog?  I love David and Goliath stories, and how the tables are turned on the bullies, whether that bully comes in the form of a person or an attitude.  Like this one: Continue reading

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It is time to speak up for those who have no voice. It is time to speak out for justice.

Jesus challenges me to speak up for others. There are those who have no voice. There are those who are down and out. God has a goal for me. It is not to be quiet. It is to speak up.

Jesus challenges me to speak out for justice. Justice cries out to be done. God is a God of love and God is a God of justice. Jesus will be the judge. Justice will be done.

Jesus challenges me to stand up for the poor and destitute. If I don’t stand up for the poor, who will? As much as I’ve helped the poor, I’ve helped Jesus. Jesus is clear on that. I am clear on it as well.

Jesus said “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me— you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25)

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!” ~King Lemuel

Source: Proverbs 31:8-9

Justice is a term used for what is right or “as it should be.” Justice is one of God’s attributes and flows out of His holiness. Justice and righteousness are often used synonymously in the Bible. Since righteousness is the quality or character of being right or just, it is another attribute of God and incorporates both His justice and holiness.

Is God fair? Yes. God’s justice is with any partiality. I can trust God completely.

God calls on me to act justly. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)

The moral righteousness of God is revealed in his laws and expressed in his judicial acts. God’s commands and judgments meet perfect standards of justice, and his apportioning of punishments and rewards is also perfectly just. God’s justice is impartial. God is God. God’s justice will be done.

A major aspect of justice is impartiality. A God who did not care about the difference between right and wrong and did not judge me for acting one way or the other would not be an admirable being worthy of my love or trust. The fact that God is just and will judge between right and wrong gives ultimate moral significance to my life and makes me accountable for my actions.

Special praise goes to Jesus for vindicating the penitent and the needy who have no human champions. Ultimately, all God’s ways will be seen as just and equitable.

  • 1 Peter 1:17  — 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
  • Deuteronomy 10:17  — 17 “For the Master your God is the God of gods and the Master of Masters, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
  • 2 Chronicles 19:7  — 7 “Now then let the fear of the Master be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Master our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”
  • Job 34:19  — 19 Who shows no partiality to princes Nor regards the rich above the poor, For they all are the work of His hands?
  • Daniel 5:27  — 27 “ ‘TEKĒL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.
  • Acts 10:34  — 34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
  • Romans 2:5  — 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
  • Romans 2:11  — 11 For there is no partiality with God.
  • Galatians 2:6  — 6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.
  • Ephesians 6:9  — 9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
  • Colossians 3:25  — 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

 


We made it!!

mom-1508902_1280FINALLY, we come to what some may consider the capstone (or the low point, depending on your political orientation I suppose) of Proverbs—the “Proverbs 31 woman”. 

“The words of Lemuel king of Massa, which his mother taught him…”

I remember a brief conversation with my mother, probably back in the late 60’s; I was around 9 or 10.  She said to me, “Dawn, you can be ANYTHING you want to be, and you don’t even have to be just one thing—you can do more than that!”  I could grow up to be an engineer (like my dad) or a doctor, start my own business, wow. I was never really aware of any gender barriers, not in my family’s culture.  My orientation from youth was “the sky’s the limit!”  So what did I choose as my profession?

Nursing. (Duh.)

The word “feminism” carries different connotations for different individuals.  For example, there are some that get genuinely frustrated with the masculine references to God as “Father”, which I consider merely a cultural personification.  This confusion is actually nothing more than Satan’s devilish device to cloud the true issue of God’s love and ever-expanding justice.

I say “ever-expanding” because it seems that justice is one of the over-arching themes throughout the Bible, and I reference the story below as an example of how God is waiting for us to “co-labor” with Him (again, I have no problem with that pronoun) to define His love and justice to a very confused (and confusing) world.

Backstory: Moses and the people of Israel are standing on the threshold of the Promised Land.  Land ownership was an important concept, so the dividing of the land was hugely significant.  At this time in this culture, only men could “own” land, which was passed down to sons.  But this one guy (who had now died while wandering around in the wilderness during that infamous forty-year hike) was survived only by his five daughters.

Now, these ladies could have easily thrown up their hands in bitterness and just resigned themselves to their cultural fate.  OR….

“One day a petition was presented by the daughters…These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle… ‘Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.’ So Moses brought their case before the LORD.  And the LORD replied to Moses, ‘The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.’”

Whoa!  Talk about bold!  Talk about initiative!  These women not only acquired justice for themselves, but reading the next several verses, also for many who were to follow.  New regulations were set up because of their action.

Another interesting point is their motivation.  They didn’t want their dad’s name to be disrespected by being left out of the land grant.  It wasn’t about them, it was about the honor of their father’s name.

Hmmmm….

God calls us to “come boldly to the throne of grace…”  It is there first and foremost that we find the true definition of justice, and God’s heart in forwarding that very thing, not merely for ourselves, but for those who are to follow, and most importantly, for the honor of our Creator’s character.  In fact, the Cross is the eternal symbol of, not only God’s love, but His justice.  And it’s paid in full.

Now, THAT’S bold.

Proverbs 31:1; Numbers 27   Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 9353-9365). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Mother Knows Best

Once again we have made it to the final chapter in Proverbs, chapter 31.

In summary, this is a chapter about motherly advice.

Think through your decisions. Don’t be a young Tony Stark (“frat boy” or playboy, getting drunk, partying, and fooling around with women), but be better than Iron Man (strong, smart, and dedicated to doing good for others).

And of course, don’t hurry love, no you’ll just have to wait. Trust in the good Lord, not matter how long it takes …

Wait … I just quoted song lyrics …

The great thing about Proverbs is that these are guidelines and advice that apply to anyone. Chapter 31 may be written to a man, but the advice can just as easily be applied to women, simply swap the genders, and it basically applies.


A Final Thought (5 Years, 10 Months Later!)

Proverbs 31:31

“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

What of Us?

At long last, we have come not only to the end of a chapter, but the whole book of Proverbs (and the second time through – it’s taken SIX YEARS!). The last verse of the last chapter is both a statement of praise for the virtuous woman and a challenge for us. Wisdom will receive the fruit of her labor. Her works will praise her in the gates. But what of us? What of our works?

The virtuous woman of this chapter has done everything with wisdom and grace; she deserves what is coming to her. The product of her faithfulness, her ingenuity, her holiness, and her benevolence will speak of her in the highest places of honor. Her works are her testimony; she need not speak of herself. But what will be said of us?

Fruit? Praise?

When it all comes down to where the rubber meets the road, we will reap what we sow. If the nearly two years it took to write the “thoughts” found here on this site (or the book which hopefully will follow) were worth anything, there will be fruit, and Wisdom will be praised in the gates.

proverbial thought pictureIt is hard to believe that almost SIX WHOLE YEARS have gone by since the first post on Proverbial Thought was written back on April 1, 2012! Much has happened; much has been endured; much has been learned; many have been blessed, and many have become wiser.

But the real blessings yet to be had are the ones that will be revealed in eternity: the marriages that stayed together; the poor choices not made; the hearts made more in tune with God’s Spirit; the lives saved by simple moments of vulnerability; the eyes turned to Christ, the Wisdom of God.

Thank you, dear friends and subscribers, especially all the contributors, for a wonderful and enlightening journey through this ancient book of wisdom – God’s Wisdom. I pray it was fruitful.

Now, what next?


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.”

Teetotaler?

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.