This question has been on my mind for months. How is it that all I have ever heard preached or taught from Proverbs 31 is the Proverbs 31 Woman? This Proverb clearly starts out addressing the man first and then goes on to tell him what kind of woman he is looking for, yet all we teach is what the women needs to do and be. That’s a valid message, but to preach that alone deprives our young men of the message written which can encourage and empower them.
King Lemuel quotes his mother speaking to him, saying three times, “What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?” This would lead me to believe that just maybe King Lemuel was doing something his mother needed to talk to him about. The first thing she tells him is, “Don’t give your strength to women.” Notice that it is plural, women, not woman. She clearly wants him to find a Godly woman if we look at verse 10 where she says, “an excellent wife who can find?” She says, don’t give “your ways to those who destroy kings.” She is basically warning her son that there are some things that can destroy him if he partakes in them. This would equate to the things the young men in our day are bombarded by constantly; pornography, lust, etc. The King’s mom is speaking to him in the midst of his temptations, “What are you doing!?” I can hear her now saying, “You are a King! Do not give in to this!” I would say this to our generation of young men, “You are kings and priests to God.” (Rev. 1:6, 5:10) Don’t be seduced by the traps of this age. So the first thing she warns him about is seductive women and temptations.
Next she warns him about drinking alcohol. She is saying in effect, “Kings cannot afford to have their reasoning and clear thinking hindered by strong drink.” She tells him that drinking can lead one to forget what has been decreed and pervert justice. One drink obviously will not cause the average person to lose their ability to reason or think clearly, yet most who drink much more than that do not know their reasoning is impaired until after the effects of it wear off and they look back and say to themselves, “What was I thinking?” It is critical in this day and age that our Proverbs 31 man can remember what has been decreed, what God has spoken over him. He needs to let nothing cloud his judgment.
I like King Lemuel’s mother. First she warns him what to avoid, then she reminds him of his call. One without the other would be ineffective. If we want someone to change course (What are you doing?) then we have to remind them of the course set before them. The King’s mother in effect is saying, “Here is what you have been doing, but here is what you are supposed to be doing.”
She tells him that a king is to defend the defenseless and bring justice. He is to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Come on, young men, rise up and speak for the unborn, those sold in sex trafficking, and for those teased by others. Help the afflicted and the needy. Defend the rights of the poor.
Lemuel is warned about what he is doing, then he is redirected to follow the call of a king. Next the King’s mother goes on to tell him the kind of woman he should “find.” The word “find” there means to discover, secure, and to get. She tells him to find a woman of noble character. The rest of the chapter describes our Proverbs 31 woman, again, an important message.
However, let’s not leave out the message to the young men in Proverbs 31 ever again. We spend all this focus on telling the young women how to excel but deprive the young men of the clear message to them. Young men you are kings with kingdom responsibility and we call you to rise above the lies and traps of this world that would tell you otherwise. You are mighty. You are strong. You will defend the defenseless and you will find the woman of God’s dreams for you.