Proverbs 31: The REAL Deal

What should I say, my son?
What, son of my womb?
What, son of my vows? …

Speak up for those who have no voice,
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
Speak up, judge righteously,
and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.    Proverbs 31:2, 8-9 (HCSB)

Proverbs 31 is a usual source text for sermons on Mother’s Day. But I would be willing to make a non-money wager that these verses I’ve sited here are not the verses usually read.

Proverbs is a book of wisdom credited to have been written by King Solomon (and friends) for future generations. It has a “list” feel to me as if the writer is jotting down all the points he has learned in his life and passing them on. I can flip to any chapter and find something to write down on my own list to memorize and pass on.

Then I get to Proverbs 31 and I have had it “preached at me” so many times that it is difficult to read. That is until it was read to me on my wedding day, almost 13 years ago by my new mother-in-law. She didn’t read at me so much as she read it to her son. In that moment, in front of all those people, I realized that I was becoming a “Proverbs 31 Woman” not because of what I could do to make it happen but because of what God was doing in me. And then this year, I read and reread the first nine verses of Proverbs 31.

In the time of the writer of Proverbs, women had no voice. Women were frequently lost their home and starved when their father or husband was killed and they were left with no male family member to care for them. If a woman was found in the company of a man, not her relative, she was frequently judged a harlot and was stoned (Remember the set-up scenario the Pharisees did with the woman ‘caught’ in adultery?) Women had no rights.

King Lemuel’s mother taught him that he must stand up “for those who have no voice”. He must care for the women not only in his family but for all who are oppressed and needy. Then the writing goes into describing the virtues of those he would be defending; calling to his attention the many things he might have overlooked.

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a wonderful litany of the many opportunities that God puts into my path to serve Him and others. Is it just for women? No. But I throw open my arms to accept these many ways that God can be glorified through me because if I find myself in these verses – it is by God’s own strength, grace, giftings, and talents that I am.

It was wonderful to hear the voices of my children across hundreds of miles yesterday. It was wonderful to sit and have dinner with husband (a meal I didn’t cook!) and receive a bouquet of lilies. But as I heard the loving words it was accepting them because of what God had done in my life that was the best part of all! It was knowing how far He has brought me and continues to bring me that makes each day an adventure and a blessing!


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