Advice for a King and For Us - A Dose of Encouragement

Most People speak of Proverbs 31 
in reference to women 
but what about the King it starts off with?

If you read this previous Encouragement Post "No Time for Study" you will remember that I had decided to take action against my distraction by my iPad which I love.
If you haven't read that post then hop on over now, read it and then head back for the rest of this one

Now I still love my iPad and use it for loads of things but I had decided that the only thing it was allowed to do in the morning, before I would read at least one verse of the Bible, was to wake me up.

So up to today I have been reading Proverbs 31 a verse or two each morning, depending on whether two verses seemed to go together or not before I reach for the iPad to plan my day and before I go on the computer to blog or go on facebook or work on things for church.

I have been jotting down my thoughts in my Bible Journal (which in the past years has been brought out for a season and then left lying for a while and then out again but from now on it is staying out).

Then I have been posting the verse(s) on facebook and writing my thoughts.
Sometimes a couple of sentences and sometimes a couple of paragraphs.

Now this was just to keep me accountable because I wanted to form this as a new habit each morning and they say doing something for 30 days makes it a habit so in November I have 30 days & I'm hoping to form this new habit this month.

But some of my friends from here in Northern Ireland, and from England, Belgium & Switzerland have been reading along with me and commenting.
So I want to say thank you them for the encouragement this has been for me.

Today I thought I would share the first section of this chapter with you.

And I am so happy that it doesn't start focusing on how a woman should behave but on advice to a man (of course this advice is from his mother so it must be really good advice - you do know I'm a mother don't you!)

NOTE:  I am reading each day from my real Bible (physical book in my hand as opposed to virtual/online Bible) which is the Revised Standard Version but copying here from the online NKJV Version because I like both.

The first two verses (see above) tell us who is involved - the King and what he remembers his mother taught him.

King Lemuel of Masa may have written this chapter of Proverbs but he was taught these things by his Godly mother.
We should remember we are teaching our children at whatever age they are but for their adulthood as well.  
He is her son so he is her responsibility and is part of her part of her promise either to God or from God.
God gives us our children so we should entrust them back to God but we also have a responsibility to promise God to bring them up in His Ways ands not teach them badly.

Verse 3
Do not give your strength to women,
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.

Is his mother advising him not to allow women to gain power over him to take away the control he will have as king?  Makes me think of Samson delivering his strength into the hands of Delilah and his destruction followed.
The problem is that it is not just the king himself who will suffer but also the kingdom he is responsible for, when someone has control over the leader it affects everyone.

Verses 4&5
Taking the two verses because these two verses need to be read together
4. It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,

Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
5. Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted

She repeats "it is not for Kings" and this means a stressing of the fact. She is definitely preparing him for his role as king, ruler of the people.
So it is important that kings do not drink wine or desire strong drink.
It is important that the people who rule the nation do not get intoxicated because they might forget to uphold the law properly or even decide to change laws hastily or be persuaded by others into wrong decisions because their own heads are not thinking clearly.
If we drink we may forget something important or not consider something to be important and hence not worry about the effects on others.
When they don't do their job properly it is the people who suffer unjustly.

Proverbs 31 v 6 & 7 have to go together.
6. Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
7. Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more.

Yesterday it was why the king should not drink & get drunk
Today it is looking at how it may be permissible to give someone something to drink.
Looking at this version I wondered about this "bitter of heart" but my RSV Bible said "bitter distress"
Wine can be used as a medical help or for those in great distress or those who have had a great shock.
Of course this is advice to others and not the people in distress so it would indicate that it all should still be under careful thought, regulated amount and not a hasty decision.

Proverbs 31 v 8 & 9
8. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9. Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Again the two verses need to be taken together.

The King needs to be the one to stand up for those who cannot do so for themselves, for those in need.
He must be the good judge he has been put in this position to be. He must fair in his judgements (or righteous as the RSV says) which means he must judge as God would and make sure the laws are fair.
The responsibility is his and he must honour his responsibility.
We must remember what responsibilities we have and honour those too.

I was so encouraged by the fact that this chapter actually started with advice to be fair & just as you take responsibility for the people you have been given charge over.
This could mean in specific areas like a king and his realm or in broader areas like writers or politicians or telly evangelists who often do not even know the people who will be their readers or their constituents or their viewers and also in homes and families, schools and churches.
In any of these areas of responsibility, and no matter who we are we will fall into some kind of responsibility, we need to take on this Godly advice of keeping ourselves in the right position to give wise advice or judgement or help to others.

Most often we look on advice as being ordered to do something but I think we should look on this advice as encouragement to be better people with God's help.

I pray that God will help us all to take this advice and act wisely.