Written By Gwen Mlondobozi
I can picture her in her kitchen going about her day and thinking about a conversation she had with a friend, only to turn to her son to tell him to do better and be better. 'Listen, my boy, when it's within your power, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute' (Prov 31:8-9). I can also see the blank face on her son who stares at his mom wondering where that came from and, knowing better says, 'Ok Ma'.
There is only one place where we see King Lemuel in the Bible, and it's in Proverbs 31. There have been studies that have suggested that Lemuel was a pseudonym used by one of the great kings; we will never honestly know. What we do know is that a king wrote this proverb. In it, he gives credit to his mom for the wise words she uttered as she raised him.
Raising a child is a great responsibility, and many parents feel the weight of it, how much more is it when you are raising a prince who will one day be the king! Moms are great gifts, they have such a significant impact on our lives, and we may forget a lot of things they say to us, but we do not forget the influence they have on our lives even as princes and princesses who will one day be kings and queens.
Whether or not King Lemuel heeds to this advice his mother gives him, it struck him to the point that he penned it down and history has remembered those words. The women in our lives, even when they go unnamed, they do not go unnoticed; they are in our speech, they are in the words we write. There are so many people that surround us that give little nudges and words of encouragement that propel us ahead in moments of pain, suffering, sadness, and discouragement. Their praises are not sung from high platforms, and sometimes their impact is so great we cannot even utter a thank you as it feels too small.
I have had moments of feeling displaced, and a lady who happens to be a mom said to me, 'Gwen, this is not for nothing. These experiences have a purpose. Wait and see what God will do.' Those words have kept me, and I remember them so well. There are more little words spoken in kindness that have kept me.
King Lemuel's mother walks around the corridors of life planting seeds with no intention of personally reaping the harvest. She is an influential woman, and her influence goes so far, and we may never know her name, but we can choose to be her.
We live in a cruel world where kindness makes the news because it is so rare, but it should not be so, it should be as normal as breathing. Wisdom and kindness should be something we share freely. Not all will receive it well, but for that one who will, it is the glass of water in their desert season - is it not worth it? Are you raising a king or queen? Will his or her decisions affect many people? Will your words shape their actions?
Choose kindness and generosity. As a recipient of both, I can say that it matters. A kind word in a world filled with malice is a beautiful thing to experience - it's the stuff that makes our day. A generous spirit is overwhelming in the best of ways, even more so when it is wisdom that we can carry with us. I have the privilege of having an amazing mom whose words have carried me through many difficult journeys. People may know my name and never know my mom's, but the impression she has made on my life is the seed she sowed in love and others are able to witness the beautiful flowers.
Proverbs 31:1-9 (NIV)
Sayings of King Lemuel … an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
"Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women, your vigour on those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."