The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
(Proverbs 31:1 NIV)
Proverbs 31 is usually highlighted for what it says about the virtuous wife from verse 10 to 31. What’s fascinating to me is the chapter as a whole – the final chapter of the book on wisdom is given to the words of a mother.
Wisdom throughout the book is personified in female form. It’s as if there’s a complimentary nature between the Father of creation and Mother Wisdom who allows us to truly prosper in the creation. So it’s fitting that the last word is given by a woman. Yet evidently no ordinary woman.
This woman is royalty. Her words to her son are not about good wife selection, they are about how to rule well. To rule others well is to first rule the self well. This mother who witnessed the initial stages of the man in baby form knows full well that he is not to behave like a boy anymore. He’s not to be controlled by external forces, whether it’s being enthralled by women or intoxicated by alcohol. He is not to revert to that degree of childish dependence if he is to rule well. To rule well, he must have charge over his own faculties.
As he asserts this, the royal mother then knows what should occupy his time most in ruling well. He is not in it primarily to enrich his own pockets. He is not in it primarily for the benefit of the fat cats lapping up the cream leaving barely any remains for others. Ruling well is to consider the least in the community, the disenfranchised, the impoverished, those without access to the means to alleviate their situation. Ruling well is about that degree of compassion for all and in particular the least.
Then the royal mother knows that the man can rule well if he is intimately intertwined with a virtuous woman. An enterprising, mindful, industrious, considerate woman who by the quality of her character truly is the crown for the king. She shines resplendent not from glamour of fleeting fashion but by brilliance of personality and heart.
The royal mother knows that this combination is the way to live: a man who rules himself, cares for others, especially the least and reflects that in the most important relationship he has on the earth. That way, the woman of wisdom knows what it takes to live well.
It’s why it’s worth paying attention to what wisdom says in all of life.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden