Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Meet my kids...Barak, John and Hillary!

Go with me here. For this you might need to really use some imagination. Picture this. If you are a Democrat, let’s say that you are the mother of Barak Obama and he has just won the general election and will soon be raising his right hand and taking the oath of office. If you are a Republican, then let’s say the same just happened to your son, John McCain (I told you this would take some imagination). Okay, okay, for the sake of fairness, let’s say that your daughter’s name is Hillary and the same is true of her also.

Now, go with me a little further. Let’s say that it is now the night before your son or daughter’s presidential inauguration and they call you up on the phone and say, “Mom, tomorrow I become the most powerful man (or woman) in the world. What advice do you have for me?” So, what advice would you give your son (or daughter)?

That is exactly the case in the opening verses of Proverbs 31 that we will see as we open the Wonder Women part of our Super Heroes message series this Sunday. These words are attributed to a king named Lemuel (nothing is known about him except that his name means “belonging to God”). Jewish legend believes this to be what Bathsheba called Solomon. This is the oracle the King’s mother taught him about life.

Her words begin with two warnings. The first is a warning concerning women (v3). His mother understands that with the position of king come many temptations that destroy. She repeats the fact that sexual immorality destroys people (This same principle is seen often in Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:4-6, 9-14, 21-23; 6:26-29; 7:22-27; 9:17-18; 23:26-28).

The second warning is concerning wine (v4-7). These verses are not intended to be the final say on alcohol (Proverbs 20:1; 23:20-21, 29-35). It seems evident from the text that this is speaking of the misuse of alcohol. The mother warns that the drinking of wine would lead to the perversion of justice (see Isaiah 5:22, 23). Wine usually referred to fermented grape juice while strong drink (beer) spoke of drinks made from barley, dates or pomegranates. Both were intoxicating (Isaiah 28:7) and were forbidden for priests (Leviticus 10:9) and Nazarites (Numbers 6:1-3). In essence, what the king’s mom is saying is that the king should use his power for his people not for his own pleasure

The king’s mother than shares a wish. It is directed toward the mute (not speaking of a literal mute but one who is socially weak); the unfortunate (the idea of being destitute); as well as the afflicted and needy (“afflicted” speaks of humble while “needy” speaks of people needing physical help) in her son’s kingdom. She exhorts her son, the king, to open his mouth in defense of these. She is teaching him that a king who defends those who cannot defend themselves will be seen as just. She encourages him to judge his subjects fairly in spite of their social class.

In the movie Spider Man, Spidey’s uncle reminds his Super Hero Nephew of this fact, “With much power comes much responsibility!” I think King Lemuel’s mom would agree!

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