Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What are the key things you want to pass on to your children? If you couldn’t teach them anything else, what would be the most important thing you could pass on to your son or to your daughter? How can you best prepare your sons and daughters to be all that God made them to be?

Leslie: It's Monday, February 12th, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Do you ever feel intimidated by the superwoman described in Proverbs 31? Over the next several weeks, Nancy's going to explain why you don't have to be intimidated. But Proverbs 31 isn't just about the “Proverbs 31 woman.” It's also about a son who had a lot to learn. Here’s Nancy to explain, kicking off an in-depth study of this important chapter. The series is called The Counter-cultural Woman.

Nancy: I'm almost a little bit hesitant to tell you what it is we're going to be teaching in this next series. Over the past weeks, as I've been studying, women have asked me, "What are you going to be teaching next on Revive Our Hearts?" When I've told them that it's going to be a series on Proverbs 31, I've had almost uniformly the same reaction. It's something like: eyes rolling or a gasp or a sigh. "I'm not sure that I want to sit through a whole series on Proverbs 31."

I can understand a little bit why people would have that reaction. I have to tell you what I think has happened in me over these last weeks as I've been studying is going to happen in you as a result of what God is going to do in our hearts through this series these next days. I don't even know how long we're going to take on this series. I can tell you it will probably be several weeks.

I've just been soaking and getting saturated in what is becoming one of my very favorite passages in the Scripture. I want to encourage you over these next days, to read Proverbs 31 for yourself. You may have read it many times in the past, but let me encourage you—since the number is 31—over the next 31 days to take a challenge of reading this chapter every day for the next 31 days.

As you do, you might just want to take a blank piece of paper or a journal (maybe something you record your quiet time notes in), and just take notes about what God shows you from this passage—not just from what I'm saying, but even more importantly, what the Holy Spirit shows you as you're reading it for yourself. Jot down, "Here's what this says," "Here's what this means," and "Here’s how God is applying this to my life."

When we talk about Proverbs 31, we usually start at verse 10. Now I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because that's where the part about women specifically begins. But I want to start with verse one and have us work through the entire passage, not skipping those first nine verses.

So let's look first at verse one, which gives us the setting and the context of Proverbs 31. Beginning in verse 1: "The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him." The words of King Lemuel. Now you won't find that name anywhere else in the Bible. There's no reference if you go through Kings or Chronicles where all those kings of Judah or Israel are listed. There's no reference to a King Lemuel. It occurs just here in the Bible.

But there's an ancient Jewish tradition that identifies King Lemuel as the name that Solomon's mother gave to him; so thinking that this is perhaps King Solomon; and “Lemuel” being another name for him. If that's the case, who would be the mother who's doing the teaching here? Remember who Solomon's mother was? Bathsheba, which makes this a very interesting passage considering it in that light.

"The words of King Lemuel [perhaps King Solomon], the utterance which his mother [perhaps Bathsheba], taught him." Now that phrase, when you put it with some others in Scripture, speaks to me of the incredible power and impact of a mother's teaching.

Now all the way through Proverbs, we have a lot of references to the teaching of a father. We don't have a lot of references to the teaching of a mother. One that comes to mind is Proverbs 1:8-9. We read, "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck" (NIV).

Proverbs tell us, that both our father's instruction and our mother’s instruction is something that can make us beautiful; it can adorn us. It’s an ornament we ought to make sure that we wear, and it will adorn us with grace and with beauty. This is the utterance which King Lemuel's mother taught him.

Now the word utterance—and in some of your translations, like the NIV, I think it's the word oracle—it's a word that means, “a prophecy or an announcement of truth.” This word, utterance or oracle carries with it the sense of weightiness. It's something heavy; it's something important. Sometimes in other parts of the Scripture, this word is translated "burden." You read that in Malachi 1—“the burden of the Lord” (verse 1, KJV). It's an important message that comes from the Lord.

These words that this mother taught her son are not just a mother's words. They are words that a mother got from the heart of God. As a mother, you can know that when you are teaching your children the ways and the Word of God, that what you are saying to them is very, very important. It's weighty. It carries divine authority with it if you're teaching your children and your grandchildren the words of God.

These are, according to this verse, “The words of King Lemuel,”—words that his mother had taught him. So apparently, this king is recalling some things that his mother had taught him years earlier, when he was not yet king; when he was a young prince; a king in the making. If the king was Solomon, and the mother was Bathsheba, you can see that these words come from the heart of a mother who knew about the grace of God—about the mercy of God.

We think of this passage, Proverbs 31, as being this impossible standard of God's law that no one can keep. Yet, if Bathsheba was the woman who taught these words, she was a woman who knew a lot about the broken law of God and what the grace of God could do to restore people who had broken God's law.

She knew how God had taken her, as a woman who had been greatly wronged and perhaps who sinned greatly herself . . . We don't know if Bathsheba was complicit in the sin with David. But certainly, she had been wronged and potentially had failed herself in this matter—maybe both. Nonetheless, she had been restored and God had made her fruitful and given her a son who would lead to the line of Christ the Messiah. Here is the woman who had learned a lot from a hard, painful personal experience.

Now she's teaching her son, this young prince who is going to be a king. She's teaching him the importance of things like faithfulness—faithfulness as a husband, faithfulness in a wife. Maybe, if this is Bathsheba teaching her son Solomon, she is certainly teaching with some degree of remorse or regret, that she and her husband had not lived out to the extent that they should have, the things that she is now going to teach her son.

You can just sense that here's a woman who doesn’t want her failures to be reproduced in the next generation, so she's going to speak words of warning and caution and exhortation and pleading with him to take God's heart and God's words as his own and to live them out.

So her husband, who'd experienced some serious consequences as a result of his adultery, she's saying now to her son, Solomon, "There are a lot of things in your dad to emulate, but there are some that you need to avoid." Learn from our example. Learn from what we have learned the hard way, and don't repeat the failures of your parents. So she's speaking words of protection, caution.

Then she's speaking words of preparation. Remember that when she spoke these words, her son was not yet the king. He was a young man, a prince. But she knew that one day he would be the king, so she's helping to prepare her son for his future. She knows that he is going to have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

Your question ought to be, "How can I best prepare my children for a lifetime of spiritual service, as kings and priests to God, to live as sons of God and daughters of God and as royalty? How can I prepare them to fulfill God's calling in their lives?

Sometimes you'll do that by teaching. Sometimes you'll do it by prayer. Sometimes you'll do it by example. We're going to see in this passage that this is a mother who has done all of these for her children. You want to prepare your children to live and to serve the King of Kings; to live and serve themselves, as kings and queens under God's authority.

“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him.” He's now speaking these words. He's remembering back to what his mother taught him years earlier. Aren't you glad, those of you who are still in the child-rearing years, to have this encouragement that your children will remember what you teach them?

Now, you better make sure you're teaching them the right things because they will remember what you're teaching them. You are teaching them something. They're going to remember those lessons, and they're going to reproduce those lessons, for better or for worse, in the next generation.

What do you want your children to remember about what you taught them? What do you remember about what your parents, your mother, taught you? What do you want to pass on to your children? What are you passing on to your children and to your grandchildren? What are you teaching them? What do you want them to pass on to the next generation when you're no longer here?

“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him.” She taught him; he grew up and taught others. Notice, by the way, she didn't leave all the training to the dad. He has a role of course of teaching and training, but this is a mother teaching.

I think that should be an encouragement for those of you whose husbands may not know the Lord, or may not be walking with God, or may not be actively committed to teaching the children. Now of course, they have a calling and a responsibility. But don't assume that because your husband doesn't have a relationship to God that you can't be actively involved in the training and the teaching and the discipling and the nurturing of your children.

Either way, with or without a husband who is training, you have a calling and a responsibility to train your children, to protect them, to prepare them—to speak to them weighty words; words that have the authority of God's Word behind them—so that your children will be prepared and equipped to go and provide godly leadership in the next generation.

Leslie: There's nothing more important than training our children. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping us understand this concept from the first verse of Proverbs 31, and she'll be right back.

Today's program begins an in-depth study of Proverbs 31. Maybe you've heard about the “Proverbs 31 woman” all your life and feel a little intimidated. Over the next several weeks, Nancy will give you insight into this important and often misunderstood chapter. You'll find out why the passage wasn't designed to make you feel condemned or overwhelmed.

During this series I hope you'll discover what it means to serve God in uniquely feminine ways. Nancy and some other wise women wrote a book that will help you know how. It's called Becoming God's True Woman, and it includes contributions from Nancy as well as writers like Carolyn Mahaney, Mary Kassian, and Susan Hunt.

We just heard Nancy beautifully explain the first verse of Proverbs 31. Here she is to pick the teaching back up with verse 2.

Nancy: She says in verse 2, "What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows?" Now these sentences, unless you really take some time to dwell on them, meditate on them . .  . They are not even complete sentences! What we're getting here is kind of the groanings, the longings, the outpouring of a mother's heart, a mother who can hardly even finish her sentences—not because she's not smart—because this is coming from so deeply within her that she hardly knows how to express what she's feeling.

It expresses the intensity and the passion of a mother's heart who's feeling love and tenderness and connectedness to this child who is her own flesh and blood. This is the child that she carried in her womb; she feels responsibility for her child. This is the son of her womb. This is a picture of a woman who has dedicated her child to God.

When I think of that phrase "the son of my vows," I think of another mother in the Old Testament. Her name was Hannah. She longed for a child, prayed for a child, wept for a child, waited for a child. Then came the day when God blessed her with a child. She said, "Lord, if You give me a son, I will give him back to You. He will be Yours." He was the son of her vows. We realize how important it is for mothers to recognize that their children are dedicated to God.

I was just thinking, over the last 24 hours, of what it has meant in my life to know that from the womb I was set apart for God; that my parents realized they didn't own me. That's what this mother is feeling. She is expressing the intent of her heart to raise this child in the fear of the Lord.

Someone has said, "If there were more Hannahs, would there not be more Samuels—great men of God, spiritual leaders?" If we only had more women: mothers, grandmothers, who were dedicating their children to God and crying out to God on behalf of their children.

So she says, "What, my son? What, son of my womb? What, son of my vows?" It's as if she's saying, "What shall I say? What shall I teach you? What shall I pass on to you?" She wanted her son to come to know God, in the ways of God, and she knew that she had a responsibility to show her son the ways of God; to communicate the heart of God to her son. It's as if she is saying, "What shall I say to him?"

Here's a woman who is taking very seriously her responsibility to train her son in the ways of God. She's looking to God, as if to say, "Lord, show me what to teach this child."

What are the key things you want to pass on to your children? If you couldn't teach them anything else, what would be the most important thing you would pass on to your son or to your daughter? How can you best prepare your sons and daughters to be all that God made them to be? How can you best protect them from what they will face later in life? How can you best direct them into the plan that God has for their life?

God has given those children to you. They are a sacred trust. They are a precious stewardship. You have a responsibility to those children that is greater than your responsibility to anyone else on the face of this earth, except for your husband. “What shall I say? What shall I teach you?”

In the next couple of sessions, we're going to look at the mother's instruction, what she taught to her son. But let's just take an overview of what she teaches her son. I want us to see that in these next verses, she's going to give her son some instruction that includes some absolutes.

There are absolutes. She's teaching her son that there is right and there is wrong. She's indoctrinating her son. There are some things she is going to say, "Don’t do this, and do do this."

Today, the concept of the post-modern generation is that there are no absolutes. Every child has to grow up and choose for himself what he'll believe. This mother did not believe that. She knew that there were absolutes on the basis of the authority of God's Word—there were things that she was to indoctrinate into the heart of her son.

Her instruction over these next few verses is very specific and practical. It's direct. She's practically applying the Word of God and the ways of God to everyday life. She's going to talk to him about marriage, relationships, women, habits, about areas of bondage, about lifestyle—practical teaching from the Word of God.

There are negatives and there are positives in her instruction. Don't be afraid as a mom to say, "That's wrong," or to say, "You must do this." In a practical sense of everyday life, "This is right; this is wrong. This is what you must do. This is what you must not do."

I got an email or a letter, actually, from a woman last week who was thanking me for talking on Revive Our Hearts about the importance of indoctrinating children in the ways of God. She said, "I'm doing that with my children."

She told me about a white board that she has in the dining room where her family eats their meals. She says sometimes she has a thought or something she wants to teach her children. She says sometimes it's something from the Scriptures. Sometimes it's something about math or about a practical issue of life. She says she just makes a note on the white board.

Then she said they use meal times for teaching their children practical things about life. She's teaching her children practically the ways of God by means of that white board, even as this mother did teaching her son the ways of God.

She's saying to him in the instruction that is going to follow, "Remember who you are. Remember that you're a king. You're a king in the making." She's giving her son a vision for how his calling in life puts some requirements on him.

I’m so thankful for the way that my parents, in many ways, gave us a vision for the fact that God wanted to use us. That meant that there were some responsibilities. There were some things that we had to be willing to make a part of our lifestyle, if we wanted to fulfill all that God had made us for.

She’s saying there’s a higher standard. There are responsibilities and requirements and accountability. "Others may; you may not. You’re going to be the king."

Then we see that she also teaches him—in this paragraph we’re going to look at, starting tomorrow—that choices have consequences. She’s saying you will have consequences for sin if you choose to sin. She paints a graphic picture of what some of those consequences will be.

The power of a mother’s instruction, given to a young man—and I assume—from the time he was very, very little. That instruction starts from the moment you first lay eyes on that child and all the way until that child leaves the nest and you send that child out as an arrow into this world to be a king, to be a leader, to be a godly man or woman.

That mother’s instruction that you’ve invested in all those years, in the son of your womb, the daughter of your womb, the son, the daughter of your vows; that instruction will go with those sons and daughters all through life.

Make sure that you’ve been giving the instruction that’s clear, practical, and specific. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to say, “There will be consequences for your choices.” Then give them a vision for the future. “Remember who you are,” tell your children. Know that with that high and holy calling comes some very important responsibilities.

Leslie: I still remember some of the lessons I learned as a child, don’t you? Lessons that to this day influence the way I live. You’re influencing your children, whether you like it or not. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is so good at training us in biblical teaching, so we can pass that teaching on to the next generation.

Maybe you know some new moms who could get a lot out of Nancy’s practical, biblical teaching. You could also order a pack of Nancy’s booklet called  Becoming God's True Womanand then share the copies with your friends.

Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com to discover all the ways you could share this important message.

We’ve heard about the importance of a mother’s teaching. Tomorrow, Nancy will explain why a wise mother uses more than just words to teach. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for mothers we have had, who’ve taught and trained us. Some of them godly mothers, who’ve taught us directly from Your Word. Some perhaps with a mother who did not know You, but who still, as a mother, was teaching and training just basic life skills and modeled some important things about what it means to be a successful man or woman. We thank You, for those who’ve trained us and taught us.

Now, Lord, we pray that as women, You would show us how to teach and train the next generation; that we may raise up young men and women who will be kings and queens— spiritual royalty—who will provide spiritual godly leadership to the next generation. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

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