The Teachings of a King’s Mother

By Nick Westbrooks

The teachings of King Lemuel’s mother found in the last chapter in the book of Proverbs is a testament to the wisdom of our mothers, and it serves as a timely Mother’s Day message this year, and being a young man, it’s especially meaningful to me. The woman in the text gives her son a few words of advice that sons and even daughters can apply now.

First, it’s important to understand the premise under which this queen is advising her son. The king’s name tells a lot about not only his mother’s high expectations for her son, but it reveals his divine identity and the Creator’s expectations for him. The name Lemuel means, “belonging to God.”

When you’re consciously classified as property of the Most High, you have to live a particular way and not do certain things. As a man of God, Lemuel couldn’t hang out all night stumbling around town in a drunken stupor and lustfully chasing after women.

More important than the things you can’t do are the things you must do. This is an important lesson for us who identify ourselves as children of God. We have to live righteously as we represent our families, our ancestors, our God and ourselves.

What wisdom did King Lemuel’s mother impart in him? She taught him not to spend his strength on women and his “vigor on those who ruin kings” (Prov. 31:3). Commentary in the New Quest Study Bible explains that kings were susceptible to investing their time, money and energy on courting and marrying multiple women. Engaging in this type of behavior will lead to self-destruction and ruin.

In verses 8 and 9, Lemuel’s mother instructs him to practice social justice by being a voice for the voiceless and being a reasonable advocate for the less fortunate: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the right of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (NIV).

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the right of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy (NIV).

Sounds familiar right? In our society, poor people are marginalized and forgotten, because they don’t have the authority and resources to influence the dominant power structure. It appears that individuals who are in positions of privilege aren’t interested in working with anyone who can’t add to their power. The lessons taught by the king’s mother in these two verses are those that everyone should apply as it’s our responsibility as human beings and as God’s people.

To conclude the mother-to-son wisdom, Lemuel learns how to choose a wife of noble character. She tells him to choose a woman that is wise, works hard and exemplifies strength and dignity. But, one of the strongest pieces of advice from this epilogue in Proverbs is to choose a woman that transcends good looks and reveres her Heavenly Father: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

At the moment, we don’t know anything about who King Lemuel was or his kingship. But we do know that he felt it was imperative to share the wisdom that came from his mother. He probably recognized the influence and role his mother had in shaping who he was and had become. On this Mother’s Day, this scriptural passage reminds us of the role mothers can have in building character in their children, and it now may serve as a model for all parents and guardians everywhere aspiring to rear their youth in ways that are pleasing to the Creator.

Faith of Our Mothers Part 2: From Pain to Power

At the beginning of our Mother’s Day service at Calvary Baptist, we had a special alter prayer for the mothers and their children. Sons, daughters and grandchildren stood next to each other, touching and agreeing while the pastor prayed for their faithfulness, unity and encouragement. After the alter prayer, everyone returned to their seats and had a moment of silence for the mothers who were not among us anymore.

The assistant pastor also suggested that we pray for those mothers who may be going through painful times. I prayed for the mothers who passed and for the mothers enduring pain. In particular, I lifted up the mothers who lost children, and that time of meditation reminded me of a recent story in The Final Call.

The article told the stories of mothers who lost children to violence and how they are turning that pain into power; using their faith to remain hopeful while leading the movement to prevent other mothers from feeling that pain.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, lost her son in February when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman. She has dealt with the pain by reminding herself that “God is still in control.” She said she would tell mothers who lost children to “read their Bible, remain prayerful and keep pushing forward.”

Dealing with the pain of losing a child is unimaginable and has to be increasingly overwhelming on Mother’s Day, a day that is suppose to be a joyous time where children show their appreciation towards their mothers. But the faith of Ms. Fulton and the many other mothers is the catalyst that transforms their pain into power.

Wanda Johnson’s son, Oscar Grant, was shot and killed in 2008 on a train station platform by a former Bay Area Rapid Transit District officer. Johnson attributes her strength to endure and remain hopeful to her faith.

“Had I not had a relationship with the Lord, I probably would have fallen into depression.”

She also said that prayer not only gave her power through God but it gave her the strength to encourage others. The article entitled “Mother Love Conquers Adversity” also told the stories of Theresa Williamson, Valerie Bell, Enola Causey and Wanda Hawkins, all mothers who lost their children to violence but found power in their faith.

As I reflect on this subject, I think of Nardyne Jefferies, the mother of 16-year-old Brishell Jones who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in southeast Washington, D.C. in 2010. I met Ms. Jefferies a couple of months ago when she spoke to the male students in the chapel at Howard University on the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. We prayed with her, and it was evident that her faith was keeping her grounded during those trying times.

I also think of the mothers of Tylik Pugh, Saahron Jones, Shakur Prince, Sha’Ron Jackson, Jonathan Paraison and the several other names from around my way who are gone but never forgotten. My prayer is that those mothers find the faith and peace to turn their pain into power on this Mother’s Day.

My heart goes out to all mothers who may be experiencing the pain of lost. Lord willing they keep pushing forward, remain faithful and keep the memory of their children alive so another mother will not have to experience the same pain.

Happy Mother’s Day


Faith of Our Mothers: Part One

Last year, I stayed on campus for Mother’s Day, but this year I made sure I was home to sit next to my mother and grandmother in church on Sunday. Along with sitting next to two of my favorite girls, I was highly anticipating the Mother’s Day word from my dear pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dwight C. Northington.

Referencing 2 Timothy, the preacher focused on the first chapter and the fifth verse in which Jesus remembers the “unfeigned faith” of Timothy’s mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois. The “unfeigned faith” of the two biblical mothers is the faith that our mothers should strive to achieve. This is the same faith that is sung about in that classic congregational hymn that churches sing every year at this time, “Faith of Our Mothers.”

We were encouraged to pray for our mothers, for they “go through many things men wouldn’t go through.” The biggest task of them all, the pastor said, is carrying a child for nearly a year and giving birth: “Lord have mercy, I know brothers couldn’t deal with that nine months of kicking and moving.” I know I could not deal with it. Women are especially blessed with the God-given ability to bring forth life.

There was a word of encouragement for our mothers who face unfortunate circumstances with their children. Whether the child is not doing right or the child’s father is not doing right, the preacher man urged those mothers to not let the negative hand they have been dealt to interfere with the love of their children.

In order to survive those troubling times, mothers “must have unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is deeply grounded in the word of God.” Also in the words of the reverend,

“Don’t hit the panic button, hit the prayer button.”

Having that steadfast faith, that faith of Eunice and Lois, means mothers should bring their children to the house of the Lord so they may learn about Jesus and learn that “God is good.” Not only should mothers bring their children to church and Sunday school, but they should come and learn WITH their children. In this manner, mothers adhere to Proverbs 22:6 which instructs parents to “train up a child in the way that he should go…”

Every day should be Mother’s Day. On this day, we should pray for their continued strength and be thankful for their faithfulness and nurturing love. Most importantly, we should honor our mothers just as the Word says. I pray that all mothers be encouraged and continue to have genuine faith.

Look out for part two.

Happy Mother’s Day!