Proverbs 31:1-3

In Proverbs 31:1-3 the pen is passed to King Lemuel and his mother. As with Agur in Proverbs 30, we don’t know anything about King Lemuel. He is not in any recorded list of the kings of Judah or Israel, so he was probably a pagan king who put his trust in Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, and through the fear of the LORD learned wisdom. “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.” The name Lemuel means, belonging to God. There was no king of Israel (or Judah) with this name, so either he was a foreign king, or it is a pen name for the author.

King Lemuel seemed to understand like Solomon and Agur that his words were an utterance, a prophecy or revelation, from God. And perhaps like Timothy, he was raised by a godly mother who taught him to fear the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.  He recalls the words that his mother had asked him. “What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?”  She obviously has a deep connection to her son. There is a progression of her connection from son to womb to vows – reverse order from the past to the present.

In her words, she addresses him in three distinct ways:

  1. My son – her current relationship with him
  2. Son of my womb – having given birth to him
  3. Son of my vows – regarding her promises and commitments to God about him

While we don’t know for sure, her vow likely is related to a vow she made to God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate him and bring him up in a way that he would live according to God’s laws and point him to God’s wisdom.

She then warns him about protecting his strength. “Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.” The practice of sexual immorality and sex obsession gives away a man’s strength, in the sense of his spiritual strength, his self-respect, his self-control, his example and standing in the community. Solomon certainly learned this the hard way, as did his father David, along with Sampson and others in scripture. Lemuel’s mother also warned him that sexual and romantic obsession could also destroy kings. David’s lust for Bathsheba made him callous toward justice and cost Uriah his life, and Solomon’s many sexual partners made him callous toward pure and undefiled religion and incapable of real love.

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