Most of the book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon; however, the last two chapters of the book have different authors. Agur wrote chapter thirty, and King Lemuel wrote chapter thirty-one. There are some who say that King Lemuel was actually Solomon, in which case his mother would be Bathsheba (Lemuel being a nick name that she gave him), but there is no clear evidence of this, so we are talking of King Lemuel as a totally new person. King Lemuel begins his chapter by giving credit to his mother for being the inspiration behind his wise sayings through the things she taught him. The first verse reads:
The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
King Lemuel’s chapter is most known for its section on the “Proverbs 31 woman.” Perhaps King Lemuel knew what attributes a woman of noble character had and could describe them so well because he saw them exemplified in the life of his own queen-mother.
1. Lemuel’s mother was a wise woman of virtuous character. The book of Proverbs is categorized as “wisdom literature,” and the influence of King Lemuel’s mother on his writings is no doubt wise. In spite of all the royal duties she was responsible for, she did what every good mother would do and took the time to teach her boy to be a man. She tells him, “Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!” This latter line shows that Lemuel’s mother prayed for him before he was even born. We can only imagine that she continued to pray for him as he progressed from childhood into adulthood.
Lemuel’s mother instructs him not to waste his strength on ruinous women or partake in excessive drinking of beer and wine. She tells him to carry himself as a king should, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to fight for the rights of all who are destitute. Lemuel’s mother urges him to judge fairly and to defend the rights of the poor and needy. When it comes time for him to marry, Lemuel’s mother shares what he should look for in a wife.
In return, Lemuel showed respect to his mother by listening to her teachings and ruling well. He did not only do what she said, but took the time to write down what she said so that we could benefit from her wisdom too. Mothers, and women in general, who are responsible for raising children have wonderful opportunities to give wise advice and teach inspiring messages that will stick with those who hear them even when they are grown. We should not underestimate the wisdom that God has given us, but should share it with others just like Lemuel’s mother did.