A Mother’s Wise Counsel
“Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.”—Proverbs 1:8.
OUR parents—our father and mother—can be a valuable source of encouragement, support, and counsel. The Bible book of Proverbs tells about a certain young king, Lemuel, who received a “weighty message” of “correction” from his mother. These words are recorded in Proverbs chapter 31, and we too can benefit from this mother’s wise counsel.—Proverbs 31:1.
Counsel Fit for a King
Lemuel’s mother begins with several questions that heighten our interest: “What am I saying, O son of mine, and what, O son of my belly, and what, O son of my vows?” Her thrice-repeated plea demonstrates her anxious concern that her son pay attention to her words. (Proverbs 31:2) Her concern for the spiritual welfare of her offspring sets a fine example for Christian parents today.
Regarding the welfare of her son, what can worry a mother more than revelries and debaucheries in the proverbial wine, women, and song? Lemuel’s mother comes right to the point: “Do not give your vital energy to women.” She characterizes promiscuous conduct as “what leads to wiping out kings.”—Proverbs 31:3.
Excessive drinking is not to be overlooked. “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine,” she warns. How is a king to render sound and clear-headed judgment and not “forget what is decreed and pervert the cause of any of the sons of affliction” if he is constantly intoxicated?—Proverbs 31:4-7.
On the contrary, by remaining free from such vices, the king will be able to “judge righteously and plead the cause of the afflicted one and the poor one.”—Proverbs 31:8, 9.
Though Christian youths may not be “kings” today, the wise counsel of Lemuel’s mother is just as timely, if not more so. Alcohol abuse, use of tobacco, and sexual immorality are rampant among young people nowadays, and it is vital that Christian youths pay attention when their parents offer them ‘weighty messages.’
A Capable Wife
Mothers are rightfully concerned with the marriage prospects of their sons who are approaching adulthood. Lemuel’s mother next turns her attention to the qualities of an ideal wife. No doubt, a young man would benefit greatly by considering a woman’s perspective on this important matter.
In Pr 31 verse 10, “a capable wife” is likened to rare and valuable corals, which in Bible times were obtained only with considerable effort. In a similar way, finding a capable wife requires effort. Rather than anxiously rushing into marriage, a young man would do well to take his time to be selective. Then, he would be more likely to value his precious find highly.
Regarding a capable wife, Lemuel is told: “In her the heart of her owner has put trust.” (Pr 31 Verse 11) In other words, he should not insist that his wife obtain his approval in every matter. Of course, marriage mates should consult with each other before making major decisions, such as those involving expensive purchases or the upbringing of their children. Communication in these areas contributes to a close bond between them.
A capable wife, of course, has many things to do. In Pr 31 verses 13 to 27 are listed counsel and principles that wives in any age can use for the benefit of their families. For example, with the rising cost of clothing and furnishings, a capable wife learns to be handy and thrifty so that her family is comfortably dressed and presentable. (Pr 31 Verses 13, 19, 21, 22) To reduce the family food bill, she grows what she can and shops carefully.—Pr 31 Verses 14, 16.
Obviously, this woman does not eat “the bread of laziness.” She works hard, and she efficiently coordinates her household’s activities. (Pr 31 Verse 27) She girds up “her hips with strength,” which means that she prepares to engage in physically demanding tasks. (Pr 31 Verse 17) She rises before the sun to begin her workday, and she works industriously into the night. It is as if the lamp that illuminates her work were always burning.—Pr 31 Verses 15, 18.
Above all, the capable wife is a spiritual person. She fears God and worships him with deep respect and reverential awe. (Pr 31 Verse 30) She likewise assists her husband in training their children to do the same. Pr 31 Verse 26 says: “In wisdom,” she instructs her children, and “the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.”
A Capable Husband
In order to attract a capable wife, Lemuel would need to fulfill the responsibilities of a capable husband. Lemuel’s mother reminds him of several of these.
A capable husband would receive a good report from “the older men of the land.” (Proverbs 31:23) That means he would be one who is able, honest, trustworthy, and God-fearing. (Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy 16:18-20) As such, he would be “known in the gates,” where the prominent men gathered to conduct the affairs of the city. To be “known” as a God-fearing man, he would have to be reasonable and work harmoniously with the elders of the “land,” perhaps meaning the district or region.
No doubt speaking from personal experience, Lemuel’s mother reminds her son about the importance of showing appreciation for his prospective wife. No one on earth would be dearer to him. So imagine the deep emotion in his voice when he confesses before all: “There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you—you have ascended above them all.”—Proverbs 31:29.
It is apparent that Lemuel appreciated his mother’s wise counsel. We note, for instance, that in Pr 31 verse 1, he refers to his mother’s words as his own. Hence, he took her “correction” to heart and benefited from her advice. May we too profit from this “weighty message” by applying its principles in our lives.
[Pictures on page 31]
A capable wife does not eat “the bread of laziness”