Suggested Reading: Proverbs 31:10-31
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates—Proverbs 31:31
Praising others is a courageous way to live. King Lemuel was certainly courageous in how he praised the woman of God openly, which was a rarity and exception in his time.
Lemuel was King Solomon’s son, and the author of last chapter of Proverbs. Apparently, his mother and father had raised him well, setting a high standard for him to live by. Lemuel grew up as a man who had a great deal of respect and appreciation, not only for his own mother and all women, but godly women in particular. In his day, when women were not highly regarded or looked upon favorably, definitely not as vessels of strength, creativity, ingenuity, or wisdom, those who could make great contributions to society as well as the home, his attitude toward and tribute to women would have been a bold, countercultural statement to make.
It was his own mother who taught him that a woman of God was to be highly valued, treasured, and openly praised for her contributions and worth, and most of all because she had not been deceived by the world. This was a pearl of a teaching to pass on to someone who would become king and occupy the throne and rule over subjects. Lemuel may have preceded Christ in birth by many generations, but he was definitely a student of Christ in his respect for God’s feminine creation. His high praise of women stood out and proved he had not succumbed to the attitudes and practice of devaluing of women practiced during his time.
The Scriptures remind us, blessed is the woman who manages to not be deceived by the world, who does not take up the mantle of worldly living but chooses the ways and lifestyle of her Lord. Her way is not easy, and she will not always be understood, accepted, or appreciated. Certainly, her praise is not going to come from the world—perhaps for some things when she has done something exceptionally pleasing to the world—but otherwise she is not the world’s picture of what a woman, wife, mother, or daughter should be. By the world’s standards she will always be lacking in something. But because she is the Lord’s she neither expects nor thrives on worldly praise and adulation—which is empty and short-lived. She does not need false praise from those who cannot understand her journey in life as a woman after God’s own heart, a woman whose journey is uniquely shaped and guided by the one who created her.
When we praise others we say “I see you. “I value what you do. “I appreciate you for who you are and what you contribute to our life, our home, our environment, who you are and help me to be in this space and time.” That is what King Lemuel’s mother taught him: to see and value others and not be afraid to praise them for their contributions or personhood; male or female.
In a world that is still trying to decide whether a woman should receive equal pay for equal work, or whether she is bright enough, strong enough, or creative enough; where she is objectified or oppressed on many levels, once again, God’s word is ahead of its time and shapes all of time and thought for those who belong to him. He reminds us to openly and generously praise those love him, follow him, serve him, honor him with their lives and contributions. And especially we remember as Lemuel wrote, to let that praise first flow from the home and family. Let’s Pray
Dear God, our Father and Creator, on a day like today we honor women, mothers in particular for all they do, add, and bring to our life; certainly we are blessed by and through them. But we are also, especially remembering to praise the woman of God who is not deceived by the world but holds fast to you. She does not always get the praise she deserves so help us make time to let her know what a jewel she is, how appreciated she is and what she means to us we feel and know your love and care through her actions and heart. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Courageous Living: How does reflecting upon the lessons Lemuel’s mother taught him from his youth, encourage you to praise others openly, especially women of God?