Mind if we hang out with royalty for a minute? This week’s verse was spoken by a queen mum to her ruling son, as we find out at the start of Proverbs 31: “The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.”
Two questions: who is Lemuel? and who’s his mom? The rabbis of old believed Lemuel—“belonging to God”—was a symbolic name for Solomon. That means his mother—the one who spoke this “prophecy” (CJB), this “vision” (DRA), this “oracle” (EXV), this “prophetic revelation” (GW)—was none other than Bathsheba.
That’s right. Bathsheba. The woman whom King David slept with while she was still married to Uriah the Hittite.
Wow. God spoke through a woman who was once involved in adultery? He did.
Because of King David’s heartfelt repentance, captured in Psalm 51, God forgave this couple and blessed them mightily. He filled Bathsheba’s womb with Solomon, then filled her heart with His words. “She spoke them as if they came from God” (NIRV).
Proof that God can use anyone. Including us, beloved.
So, here is the “strong advice” (MSG) given by a mother to her grown son, the king. Wise words meant for every generation.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
Let’s face it: it’s easy to keep quiet, to say nothing, to look away when we see someone who is desperately in need.
But that’s not what kings or emperors or dictators or presidents should do. Nor should a daughter of the Most High King. He calls us to “open thy mouth” (ASV). To say what needs to be said. To write a letter to the editor, to post the facts on social media, to make a phone call to the mayor’s office, to send an email to local broadcasters.
To give a voice to “those who have no voice” (HCSB).
…for those who cannot speak for themselves,…
In Hebrew, illem means “unable to speak,” which is why it’s also translated “mute” (ESV). But we’re not talking about a physical challenge. More like an economic one. These are people who are “voiceless” (CEB) in our society, who are “helpless” (CEV), often living on the streets, begging for aid.
On any given night, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. are homeless. Ten percent are veterans. Twenty-five percent are children. And they don’t all find their way to emergency shelters. More than a third of homeless Americans sleep under bridges, hide inside cars, or take cover in abandoned buildings.
Lord, help us.
He is helping—by calling us to help. God wants us to notice those in need. Listen to them, care about them, feed them, shelter them, educate them, guide them, and above all, speak up for them.
…for the rights of…
When you have no job, no money, no food, and no roof over your head, you need someone to “protect” (GNT) your rights, to “help” (ERV) and “defend” (CEV) you, to “ensure justice” (NLT) for your “cause” (ASV).
God’s Word makes this clear: the ones who wield power and control the budget are the ones who need to speak up first. Leaders need to lead. Step forward. Be advocates.
And, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the strength of the Lord, we need to be right beside our leaders, looking for ways to serve those who have “nothing” (NCV).
…all who are destitute.
“Destitute” is translated so many different ways—“poor” (NIRV), “defenseless” (AMP), “vulnerable” (CEB), “unfortunate” (NASB), “dispossessed” (HCSB), “fragile” (EXB)—I dug a little deeper to grasp the true meaning of the original Hebrew word.
Ben means “son,” but chaloph, which appears only in this verse, literally means “passing away.” So, it’s “children” (GNV) we need to focus on. The next generation, especially “those who are doomed” (GW) to suffer the same bleak future as their parents. The children who are slowly “dying” (NET) from neglect, the forgotten “sons of destitution” (OJB).
Angie, who chose this verse as her favorite, said Proverbs 31:8 has given her courage in many situations: “when I worked in a crisis pregnancy center; when I took my friend down to TESSA to get her help from her abusive husband; when I stood up to the schools for my daughter who has disabilities; when my husband and I had to go to court and testify against a family member. This verse kept reminding me that I am doing the right thing, even though it is hard.”
It is hard, Angie. Yet so worth the effort. Your family and friends are blessed to have you in their corner.
For the Angies among us who speak up, who do the right thing, may the Lord be your strength and shield. For the rest of us who want to speak up, but don’t know where to begin or what to do, Lord Jesus, help us stop making excuses and start making a difference.
Now it’s your turn
- As I unpacked this week’s verse (ouch), God nudged me repeatedly about not only speaking up, but stepping up. What has God revealed to you?
Next Wednesday, King Lemuel’s mom has more wisdom to share, directed at the wives among us (gulp). Not married? No worries. We’ll find a valuable nugget for you too. Can’t wait to go digging!
Your sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs #bgbg2