Ignominious start. Okay, so, 6/1 and 6/2 will be today. Quick reminder: SOAP – Scripture, Observations, Applications, Prayer.
Scripture: 1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. 2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
Observations: Interestingly, there is apparently some disagreement as to who wrote this chapter – some say King Lemuel wrote down the words of his mother; some say it was written as the rest of the Proverbs, by King Solomon and “Lemuel” was a nickname, whether by his wife or someone else. Most agree that the words are those of a mother to her son – as remembered by that son, whoever he might be. However, the book I’ve been reading, Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter, doesn’t list this chapter as having any words by a woman – which now makes me wonder what her premise was for counting the words of women in the Bible. In any case, there’s a good discussion of these two verses at that link. There’s a good video overview of the entire chapter done by the woman sponsoring this study. There are other commentaries, of course, but those seemed the most comprehensive.
Applications: Well, as a mother with two sons, I have a feeling that this was probably something I should have gotten through to both of them, but one of them has already been paying attention. 🙂 The other would likely have heard the words and then done the exact opposite, as that is his character. Application as a priest would hopefully be able to provide guidance to any young men who might actually come to me for advice – or any mothers who come wanting advice on how to advise their own sons.
Prayer: Thank you for the words of guidance you provide to us, for the teachers and guidance so many share in our walk to be closer with you. May your wisdom guide me to say the right things, so that the “burden” of words reflects the lightness of your yoke as we strive to follow the guidance you provide to us within your Holy Book.
Scripture: 3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Observations: Again, the discussion on Verse 3 is rather enlightening. I actually had a similar discussion with my father the other day. He wrote to find out why some Episcopals wanted to change the gender of God to name God “Mother”. My opinion has always been that God is likely genderless – “parent.” However, at the time anything was written down, there was male and female – Hebrew does not have a neuter concept. The parent who provided, directed, nurtured, loved, disciplined, etc. filled both roles, but was labeled “He” for simplicity’s sake as well as given the social and historical conditions. In the same way that “mankind” means all of humanity, male, female and otherwise. I’ve had priests use the term “Mother/Father/God” – it actually sounds rather like Teal’c from StarGate who ran everyone’s names together into one. Slightly ridiculous, but at the same time, an effort to make sure it is understood that God includes the Divine Feminine as well as the Divine Masculine. Among Baha’is, it is understood that the mother is the first educator of the next generation, and thus the mother, herself, should be educated so that she may rightly guide her children. Verse 4, I think begins to get into the specifics of what’s referred to in Verse 3, as discussed at the discussion mentioned. Kings may be better educated, hopefully more enlightened beings – but they are still at heart men, with the same temptations and foibles other men experience. But because they are leaders, they must be guarded against those things that would destroy them.
Applications: I think I’ll mention here that in all instances of this chapter, the applications come down to being mom to two sons, and wanting them to live well, make fine choices and live in service to God. Encouraging them to do the very best they can in God’s sight is part of my job as a mother – which includes reminding them that they are the heads of their own households, and as such, need to be good leaders, strong in the ways God would have them to be.
Prayer: God, may your will be done.