I've always gone straight to verse 10 of Proverbs 31 when studying it. In fact, I remember the first time I sat down to study the chapter for myself I was surprised to find 9 verses ahead of the famous, "Proverbs 31 wife" passage. But as I go back to verse 1 of the section I see a burden on a mom's heart out of which comes the famous Proverbs 31 wife passage. And also I see the remembrance of a son. It says, "The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him..." A son remembering an utterance, or if you read the KJV (which more accurately translates the meaning of the Hebrew word here), the prophecy his mother taught him.
Now over at Who can find you'll hear more about the propheticness of this chapter from a wife's perspective in the Who can find series on Wednesdays, but here I want to share the momma's-burden perspective. See the Hebrew word translated utterance or prophecy literally means a burden or oracle . That really caught my attention, because as a mom, I carry a burden for my sons too. And as I read further in these first 9 verses, I realized I carry the same burden Lemuel's mom did.
I've heard teachings that this proverb was written by Solomon, and that his mom, being Bathsheba, would have been the mom who taught it to him. Whether that is true or not I don't know, though it lends some understanding to why this momma had such a burden for her son not to go down the path of sex, drugs (wine) and rock n' roll, i.e., indulging natural lusts. But just taking the text as it is was very enlightening to me.
Lemuel means: for God. This king "for God" was taught a prophetic burden by his mom, and at the end of God's book of wisdom, he recalls her burden. Maybe by now he's already gone down the path of fleshly indulgences and knows this truly was a prophecy as he sees the folly of where he's been (if Lemuel is Solomon, I'm sure that would have been the case). Whatever the case I hear the prophecy and I, as a mom, feel the burden. And I find such hope in these God-breathed words, assuring me of the power He has in turning the hearts of fallen men, even my sons, into hearts of kings for God.
Can't you just hear the burden in verse 2? Maybe Lemuel was just a young boy at the time his mom had this heavenly burden laid on her heart; knowing all the lusts that were naturally in him and all the opportunities in the world to feed those lusts, and not wanting him to go down the path of carnality, but wanting him to live uprightly as a king "for God." Out of that burden she poured out questions like these, "What? What am I going to do about this burden on my heart; the prophecy that's like a fire in my belly? What am I, the one who painfully brought you into this world, going to say or do?" I can imagine her thoughts. I think these thoughts. "What do I say to you? What do I do with this burden I have for you to not give yourself to natural appetites but to keep yourself for that which only Christ can find?"
She knew what it was like to be a wife, a wife of a king, a woman who took her vows seriously. If she was Solomon's mom, then she would have known personally the results of a man who gives himself to fleshly lusts when he was called to be a king for God (see 2 Samuel 11). Maybe she thought, "If your dad did what he did with me, what's to keep you from going down that path too?" What a burden! One I also know well!
With that burden she doesn't loose hope nor does she refuse to bear the burden, but rather, maybe even with tears in her eyes, and surely with passion, she teaches her son this prophetic desire she has for him to walk as a king for God.
I think this is important to take note of. We Christians can be so quick to refuse to bear a burden or try to wipe one off the shoulder of a weeping soul by saying coy phrases like, "Oh, don't worry about that, everything will be fine. Train a child in the way he should go and when he's old he won't depart from it!" And though it's true, God does work all things together for good, I think we (I'm chiefly speaking to me) forget that ALL THINGS means, even the backsliding and sin and defeats and losses.
Like King Lemuel's mom the burden I bear for my sons is good. It's prophetic. It's not to be wiped away, it's to be born...planted in the hearts of my children so that it is sure to give birth to God's will. For His word won't return void. And at the same time that I trust my God to have His way with my sons I must also give my all in teaching them to turn away from passions which bring destruction and then be willing to let it hurt and trust God in the pain. For I'm sure, if this was Bathsheba's burden passed onto Solomon, that she had pain if she saw the way he chose to go- multiple wives and indulging all his desires and the results of emptiness he felt because of it all (see Ecclesiastes) . I wonder if she lived to see the day her wayward son finally said, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." (Ecc.12:13-14)
Whether she did or not, she knows now. And we see that the fruit of her passionate, prophetic burden, taught to her son, God faithfully kept in his wayward heart, and in the end, had His return on His word!
We would be wise to see if our burdens are divine when our belly's burn for our kids to walk in godliness, and take it as God's prodding to teach the burden to our kids. For it may very well be prophetic.
Next week: The prophetic burden.
Until then, what burns in your heart for your kids? Is it a Godly burden? Are you trying to wipe it away or will you bear it and teach it to your kids, trusting God to bring fruit from it?
"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." ~ 2 Timothy 1:12