Mother Knows Best

Lorri Winkcompleck
Friday, Jan 11, 2019 | Proverbs 31

Getting Started

From the time a child is mobile, a mother begins to give advice: don’t touch that; share your toys; look people in the eye. One of the most rewarding and exhausting jobs of a mom is constant instruction for the purpose of shaping a child’s character, and hopefully, influencing the child’s choices long past the toddler stage. In today’s Proverb, King Lemuel recalls the words of his mother regarding how he can lead a life that blesses others and honors God.

  • What is some of the best parental advice you ever received?

Read the Word

Proverbs 31 (ESV)

31:1 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
    What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
    your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
    and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

10 An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Digging Deeper

  1. What advice does King Lemuel’s mother give in verses 2-9 regarding women, strong drink, and the poor and needy?
  2. How can her advice apply to us as leaders in our homes, communities, and businesses today?
  3. Verse 10 transitions into a lengthy list of the qualities that Lemuel’s mother thinks he should look for in a wife. Verses 11-12, however, serve as a big picture summation of the details to come. What do they say about the foundation of the spousal relationship as a whole?
  4. Verses 13-26 provide details of the actions and priorities of a wise spouse. What character qualities are represented by the wife’s actions? Try to name at least five virtues represented by her daily life choices.
  5. Whether you are a man or a woman, what part of these instructions can God use to encourage you to be a person of honor and wisdom? 

Respond to God

The way character is expressed doesn’t always look the same through the lens of time and culture. Very few of us today will have the opportunity to plant vineyards, make bed coverings, or deliver sashes to a merchant. But the virtues of an honorable person are timeless and universal. God honors trustworthy, kind, discerning, self-sacrificial people. And in today’s Proverb, it is clear that operating out of a healthy fear of—or respect for—the Lord’s ways is what enables us to leave an enduring legacy. A lasting impact is made not through amassing power or pleasure, but through wholeheartedly committing to implement God’s daily and lifelong purposes for our lives.

  • Confess your respect for the Lord—for who he is, his ways, and his Word.
  • Seek his wisdom as you commit to purposefully live for him. 

Questions or Comments