“The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.” (Prov. 31.1)
Every week for five and a half years now, since the first Sunday of March, 2003, when the Brown-eyed-Baby and I accepted your call, and God’s call, to South Canyon Baptist Church, I have written an article for The Lighthouse. By rough count, that comes to more than 285 articles and well over 150,000 words. The equivalent of three doctoral dissertations. But God doesn’t grade by weight–the Bible is a mere pamphlet, for example, when compared to the writings of Buddhism–but by faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ. These things “are written,” John says in his Gospel, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). As was true for John, for me also the only good reason to write these articles is to point you to Christ–and especially now as I write one more time.
For more than a year now, each Lighthouse article has focused on the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs. If you’re observant, you may have noticed that the chapter number for each week’s proverb corresponds to the date for that Sunday. (So last Sunday, August 24th, we looked at Proverbs 24.) The method in this madness is not important–I only mention it to observe that we end our Lighthouse articles on August 31st in the last chapter of Proverbs, the famous “words of King Lemuel,” the “oracle which his mother taught him.”
It would probably take another 150,000 words to explain the instructive oddities of this chapter, so I will leave you with just this one. The “oracle” of King Lemuel’s mother is the only example we know in all the literature of the ancient near east of instructions given to a king by a woman. We have many examples of instructions for the performance of royal duties from Egypt and Mesopotamia, just never from women. To put it bluntly, the wise men of the ancient east considered women incapable of wisdom, so what could they possibly contribute to leadership? But in the Bible’s view of life, an humble mother with a pure heart knows more about real leadership that a phalanx of high-powered executives. For in God’s sight, godliness trumps everything, and that is what Lemuel’s mother tells him about leadership: “judge righteously,” she says (v. 9)–that’s all he really needs to know.
If after five and a half years and 150,000 words, I have anything to say of eternal significance, it is surely the simple truth of that woman–godliness trumps everything. Or in the words of Paul: “the grace of God has appeared . . . training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Tit. 2.11-13). After 150,000 words, that’s the last word. How dearly you are loved.