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?
Use the link below to post your comment. It means so much when you do. Your free Printable of Proverbs 31:8 is ready to download, and all our weekly Proverbs to date are on Pinterest.
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
Great thoughts, Liz. I completely agree. I don’t want to use your site to beat my own drum, but I would like to share about those I speak for who are truly “voiceless”. I speak up for animal rights. Many animals are exploited, abused, neglected and tortured by humans. Among my fellow Christians I have found that speaking up for animals is not a particularly popular stance. They have the attitude that “they’re JUST animals” and “God told us to subdue them and to rule over them.” I have only this response to that blighted thinking and it is this, “God made a perfect world in which man did not kill and eat animals, nor did animals kill one another. Thanks to Satan and the Fall, killing was introduced into our world. I believe that God has made us the “caretakers” of the animals and the earth. I believe He means for us to take good care of the creation He originally put into our hands. I am vegetarian as a matter of personal choice, I am an environmentalist, not a popular thing to be among Christians, and I am an animal activist. While I do not feel it is right to demand that others agree with me, I do feel often like a “voice crying in the wilderness” as I attempt to speak out against the many evils humans do to animals (I include here mammals, birds, fish, reptiles) . I believe that when Jesus returns the whole creation which the Bible tells us is “groaning” because of Satan and man’s original disobedience, will be set free. I can’t wait for that day.
Your passion on the subject comes through loud and clear, Christina. I, too, long for the day when all of God’s creation is set free…for many reasons!
Oh, dear Liz, this came thru so clearly to me today. I learned that a fringe acquaintance, who mostly paints houses indoors for a living, is much out of work and is struggling to find jobs. If it wasn’t for living with her mother who gets some retirement income, she could be on the streets. She does good work. I’m now motivated to encourage people — friends and groups to which I belong — to find jobs for her to do. She’ll paint or clean or weed or plant or drive elderly …
Love what you do. Love your ministry. Love your postings. I’m praying that my God will lead me into doing something of a similar nature. I’m too much caught up in retirement volunteering that has bogged me down just now. I have to start saying “NO!” Am I doing good things? Yes, but I think I’ve given my time to those things and need to move on. Praying God will help me find other leaders and show me the way HE wants me to go,
Sounds like a GREAT way to make a difference in this woman’s life, Dorothy. If we keep an open mind and open heart, God will show us what to do. Blessings on the new direction He is leading you!
Liz, I look forward each week to these messages and today truly struck my heart. For the past 13 years I have been an advocate for my adopted Grandson who came to our daughter’s family at age 5. He had been in and out of foster homes and badly mistreated. On his 7th birthday, he was officially adopted. Unfortunately, my daughter and husband did not prove to be devoted or loving parents. He was removed from the home and I was able to intervene and went to court and obtained custody of him. But it cost me the relationship with my daughter. Many times I wondered if I had done the right thing. I wish I could say things went smoothly with him, but it did not and I had to fight the “system” so many times as they kept letting him return to my daughter and husband only to be removed again. I even went 2 years without knowing where he was, but God put good people in his path who allowed me to regain custody. At age 16 he was finally reunited with his biological father who had never been married to the biological mom. Another story of itself, but it was where my grandson wanted to be. I wish the story had a happy ending, but alas now that he is 18 he has left home and is not making wise decisions. Since he was brought up in the “ways of the Lord” I trust God to guide him back onto the right pathway. I digress – anyway. Today’s lessons and verse assure me that I did do the right thing. As a child he could not “speak up for himself” and required loving intervention. Thank you for always sharing so honestly with us in the breakdown of these scriptures. I am a huge fan of all of your writings. I look forward to you being in our area someday with a live conference that I can attend with my sisters in Christ.
I’m so sorry for your struggles, Alvina. Here’s the good news in all of this heartache: his story isn’t over yet! The happy ending is still ahead. You are wise to trust God in this. We can be advocates, absolutely. But there is only one Holy Spirit, and He can be trusted to see this through.
Today I want to speak up for homeless women in Louisville KY. They need our voices. If you want to help contact Jefferson Street Women’s Day Shelter where women can take a shower, do laundry and get a snack in a safe place. This verse reassured me that efforts we made on behalf of a woman who needed medical help were exactly what we should do. She needs your prayers for healing and salvation. I have found that many of the homeless women have experienced abuse over and over. That experience has effected their decision making skills. If you cannot help, please pray.
You are doing a fine work, Cheryl. Praying right now for these women you serve. God loves them so!
I can’t help but think of those kids with nothing that crossed the border.
So right, Rebecca. They left a desperate situation in their own country, that’s certain.
Rebecca, this is exactly what popped into my mind. These children cannot speak for themselves. This has been really pressing on my heart. I don’t know what I can do; but, I pray God will direct my path.
I sure appreciate your concern!!!! We live in McAllen, and it has been difficult because of some of the governmental blockages regarding the children coming over the border. But churches are trying to help with supplies for the people. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen is very near the bus station and it is serving as a hub for support. Other churches have been helping out with getting supplies there (i.e., disposable diapers, clothing, nonperishable food, hygiene supplies) and Sacred Heart is providing a place to rest before some of the people begin a bus journey. Yes, there are “issues”…but people are not issues–they are people. So we have been trying to help as we can. Your prayers are appreciated!!!!
I’m so there with these verses! More people need to step up and have the wisdom and courage to speak out for the homeless, the unborn, the poverty stricken children in foreign countries. We can each do a small part when added together becomes a huge change for all.
Wonderful words of yours Liz along with a great Word of God!
When we look at all those in need, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? Where to begin? God is gently saying to me, “Just begin, Liz. Pick one worthy cause and serve in My name.” I’m praying about that very thing today. Will you join me, sisters?
This verse and your words pricked my conscience today. I am not destitute nor are my immediate family members. However, I have a nephew who suffers from mental illness and is somewhere on the streets of Louisville. He has burned bridge after bridge with family and refuses to take the necessary medication. Earlier this week, I decided that he was not my problem and his dad and sister could deal with him. But after reading this verse and your words, Liz, I feel God asking if I have done all I can and if I feel I don’t even need to pray. Thank you for the prompting and for helping me to see that we can all do something, and I need to be prayerfully compassionate.
Thank you Liz once again for speaking the truth into my life!! I too will begin to pray earnestly for the Lord to lead me in this area and to have the courage to speak up. I have had to do it many times for special needs grandkids and their sister, but I know now it means also stepping out beyond those borders. I want that passion to fill my life!!
The Lord speaks through you to encourage me time and time again. The first time I read this I went to post a comment, but ironically the words stuck. I wanted to write something along the lines of a prayer begging the Lord to do this in all of our hearts – especially mine. The next morning the Lord woke me and inspired me to write several poems. Later in the day He gave me the courage and joy to speak to others of His merciful compassionate love. I am grateful for how the Holy Spirit works through the body of Christ. The Lord has given me such grace and stretched me way beyond my comfort zone recently. We praise God for the encouragement of multiple saints, of whom you are considered a dear one, in spurring us on toward love and good works.
With much love and gratitude,
If you’re interested in reading one of the poems, it can be found at:
Liz, I love you’re weekly sharing with us your thoughts on the weeks verse. I do hope at the end of the year you will put all if them into a booklet we can purchase. It would be wonderful to use as a devotional for our own study or with small group Bible study. Thanks for taking it under consideration.
Liz, I am so sorry that I hadn’t come across this website sooner. (Thank you, Sally J. Lewis for directing me here.) You said very well something that needed to be said. Now that I’ve found you, I’ll be back regularly.
Grace and peace,
Thank you for sharing the Proverbs 31:8 post. My husband and I live in McAllen, Texas, in the midst of the border dilemma. Prior to this crisis hitting the news, we started working in one of the colonias, bringing in bags of groceries, doing a teen girls mentoring club, having Sunday School each Sunday and doing some construction work. Our church has been a huge encouragement and is now working with us. We were able to do a VBS with teens from the church, and plan to have a “back to school” supply give-away in August. We have had another church ask “What Can We Do?” and “How Do We Do It?”, so I’m beginning to write a “How to minister” guideline. The need is so great! My heart cries out to the Lord for those who are homeless and/or hungry. It is easy to care and to say “but I don’t know anyone in need”. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide people to the need, just as He did for us.
Thank you for this. I believe we Christians do need to be encouraged to speak up as well as reach out for others who are oppressed or downtrodden. In the past I’ve assumed that being quiet in not questioning authority is the right and respectful thing to do. But I’ve recently learned it is NOT if that authority is hurting others or goes against God’s Word. This summer I’ve had to speak up for myself so that others wouldn’t be hurt in the future. Not easy.