No one actually knows who King Lemuel was. Some say that he was King of Massa, a northern Arabian nation, but no one knows for sure. However, what we do know is that his mother (the Queen Mother?) gave him some interesting and good advice. It is advice that we all can take to heart, especially if we live in a democratic republic, as I do here in the U.S.A.
When people think of Proverbs 31, they tend to think of the “Proverbs 31 woman”. Not me. That’s an afterthought. My thoughts go straight to verses 8 and 9.
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” (ESV).
There are many in our nation–many in the world–who fit this description and we could absolutely exhaust ourselves on causes which often leads to virtue signaling (hey! look at me; I care about this and that and want the entire world to know even though in reality I’m not doing much). This post isn’t about that at all. It is however about making sure that we are not ignoring the plight of those who are poor, destitute, or without a voice.
There are more people out there like this than we may realize. Often I will go on a tangent about something I believe to be an injustice. Abortion is one of those topics, but another is when a parent’s rights over their child, like Alfie Evans, are stripped away. These precious children have no voice, and the voices of Evans’s parents were being ignored. Why not speak up for their rights? I have the ability. I have a voice. I have a Twitter account and Facebook page; why not speak up?
But going beyond this, why not speak up when injustice is based upon race? When racism is known and seen, why would anyone keep their mouths closed? You see, we may not be king, but in the U.S.A. one does not need to be a king, but simply a citizen. Our rule is not based upon a monarchy, but upon the Constitution. That Constitution gives all an equal right to freedom of speech and to keep our statesmen and politicians accountable. Our voice may be ignored, but that doesn’t dissolve us of the responsibility of speaking up.
It is no secret that the poor and needy are easily trampled upon. People take advantage of them constantly. As Christians we ought to speak up and defend their rights. One usually does not see a city or county declaring eminent domain upon the rich (I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare). It tends to happen upon the poor. And it is claimed that it is for the greater good, but it is not for the greater good of the person losing their home. Casinos do not seem to ever be taken by the government, but little old widows’ home of 50 years are. Should a Christian ignore such a plight? Who’s going to listen to a little old widow? Not very many; but if Christians who believe in justice band together, their voices could and would be heard.
I have been studying Isaiah lately. And I try to be careful not to equate the nation of Israel with the U.S., however, I do see a connection with the Church. Sadly, we can find that the way of Israel is followed by Christians. Read carefully the scathing words of God to Israel in the first chapter of Isaiah. God has just told the people that he abhors their sacrifices and their festivals and will not listen to their prayers. Why? Because of their lack of care for justice.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV
Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
Isaiah 1:23, ESV
This was the condition of the city of Jerusalem–Zion! The people ignored the plight of the poor, the destitute, the orphan, and the widow. They said nothing and they did nothing. And God saw their silence as complacency and complicity. Is the Church guilty of the same? I’d say it often is. We tend to “mind our own business,” rather than open our mouths for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute, and judge righteously, defending the rights of the poor and needy.
The Queen Mother wanted to make her son Lemuel a good king–a just king. She tells him not to get distracted with promiscuous women, not to give himself to drinking and drunkenness, and to act with justice, sticking up for those who cannot stick up for themselves. Imagine what kind of county and what kind of world we’d live in if Christians would act like this king.