1 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
While we cannot be certain of the identity of King Lemuel (the name means “belonging to God”), we need not know who he was to learn from what he wrote. We can be sure, at least, that he had a wise mother. While Proverbs began with the lessons of a Father, it ends with the guidance of a mother. We all have the dignity of cultivating wisdom, especially so for Mothers and Fathers.
“Listen… Listen… Listen!” The mother speaks with urgency, knowing that her advice is not easy to take. She emphasizes herself “my… my… my… my,” stressing that her peace is bound to her child’s. Yet she does not mention herself again, she does not take the role of enforcer. She has sacrificed much to keep her son on the right path, and wants only to see him flourish on his own.
“Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.” What is the wise mother’s first concern? That her son would waste his life chasing women. Appetites are never fully satisfied, they often come back stronger than before. The sexual appetite is no exception, if you do not control it – it will control you. There are women who know this and use their beauty to manipulate, they are easy to get involved with and nearly impossible to detach from. They are never satisfied, always requiring more and more. Even kings are vulnerable to such women. If you are a son, avoid them! If you are a daughter, don’t become one of them!
“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.” Responsibility demands sobriety. Those with the most authority ought to be the most sober, as many lives depend on them. Do you strive to be more responsible? It is wise to be temperate in your drinking, even wiser to abstain altogether.