We're all familiar with -- and intimidated by -- the model woman depicted at the end of Proverbs 31, but have you ever heard a sermon or read an article about the man in the first 9 verses?
The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.
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.
Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Scholars note this king is unknown in the annals of biblical history and agree Lemuel may be a euphemism for Solomon. The name means "to God," as in "belonging to God." If the "Proverbs 31 woman" is God's ideal for womanhood, then verses 1-9 could be said to describe the ideal leader -- the one owned by God.
A likely reason we don't hear much about this passage is its dangerous reference to strong drink, as though drunkenness is allowed the common man if not the king. Plenty of passages -- including Prov. 20:1 and 23:19-21 -- clear up any misconception. (See also Luke 21:34, Romans 13:13, 1 Cor. 6:10, Gal. 5:21, Eph. 5:18.) Basically, good leaders are those who don't indulge themselves, or let their pleasures overcome good judgment. Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 serves as a parallel:
Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness.
Note also that the "Proverbs 31 Man" does not indulge himself with women -- leading to unwise alliances, fatherless children, and broken relationships. Dalliances sap strength AND, in our society, lead to abortions. The wise man exercises self-control in this area of life as well.
The point of sober leadership is the just use of power. The good leader doesn't allow his friends to ply him with anything -- wine, women, wealth -- to the neglect of justice.
In a crowded throne room (or courtroom) a king could be dazzled by the pomp, ceremony, and influence of powerful advisers. He could overlook the poor man in ragged clothing standing at the end of the line, or forget the wretches outside who never gain entrance because they're too ashamed, or disabled, or must work all day to survive. After all, they're not the king's party pals.
In all the competing interests, the king must keep the "little people" and their concerns in mind. The wealthy, the powerful, the beautiful have their own voices. But who speaks up for the little ones, the "non-persons" who have no voice?
Not only should the godly leader avoid perverting justice by condemning the innocent (Exodus 23:1-9, Dt. 16:18-20), but he should also be their advocate. "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. . . . Speak up!" Men who defend the weak and helpless imitate the character of God: Psalm 10:17-18, 82:3-4, 146:9; Proverbs 10:29, 31:9; Isaiah 1:17, 25:4; Jeremiah 5:28, 16:19; 2 Samuel 22:33.
What if we don't have leaders like that? What if they're under the influence of Planned Parenthood? What if they not only disregard the unborn, but advocate on behalf of their enemies?
It falls to us to do the speaking up -- petitioning to and about our leaders. Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks should be made to God for kings and all who are in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-4). And, while the parable in Luke 18:1-8 is about demonstrating faith through persistent prayer, it also shows the propriety of petitioning "unjust judges." Through our diligence, perhaps one day they'll do the good they're reluctant to do, despite their prejudices. (Note that the parable also diagnoses the root of injustice -- no fear of God or respect for the sanctity of human life.)
Men -- whether they're leaders in government or at home -- must speak up about abortion. Despite what feminist's say, men shouldn't be silenced because they lack female reproductive equipment or the experience of bearing children. Many women have abortions because their men are either coercive or weak. Since all human life in the womb is valuable to God -- male and female -- male voices are crucial to the pro-life movement. Abortion is not just a "woman's issue."
Related post-election reading: