Living Like Kings
Proverbs 31:1-9 / Revelation 5:1-10
As we come into this final chapter, the language, forces us to go back to the very beginning of the book.
The 1st part of the chapter, is addressing “KINGS” and the 2nd, what is often referred to as “THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN”.
In these, we actually come full circle.
You’ll remember that when we began, we noted that the entire book is cast as Solomon speaking with his son, and preparing him to one day ascend the throne of Israel itself.
And we would fail to apply it well if we did not in the first place see it in that light.
That is true for BOTH sections of this last chapter – we’ll have to unpack that more fully later.
Secondly, we’ve seen the entire book as a master’s class in mentoring all of us in Living “wisely”: Living lives that are fully informed and framed by a clear understanding of who and what we are in God’s universe and according to His cosmic plan.
A plan which WE know, culminates in the return of Jesus. Or as Paul says it: Eph. 1:7–10 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
The idea is that this present life – whether the life of Solomon or his son or ours, needs to be lived with an eye fixed upon where God is taking the whole of human history.
We might say: We must live ESCATOLOGICALLY.
Growing out of those ideas then, is taking seriously that in God’s final plan, Christians are saved to occupy two great offices in Christ’s coming Kingdom.
The first of these is the subject of the 1st 9 verses of this chapter.
And it is this: That Christ Jesus has saved us with the intention that we will “reign” with Him in His coming Kingdom.
Rev. 5:9–10 “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
That is the Christian’s destiny.
To judge angels. (1 Cor. 6:3)
To be seated with Him in His throne. (Eph. 2:6 – in some sense even now)
To rule with Him.
So we need to factor our ROYAL calling into our lives now.
We are being groomed to be an extension of His authority in His universe.
And it is in that context I want us to look carefully at this passage.
An additional word about how I’ve approached this entire series in Proverbs.
I am stealing this from Tim Keller whom I heard speak last week at the BASICS conference at Alistair Begg’s Church. It is an important concept for all of us in how we read the Old Testament.
If any of you have seen the movie The 6th Sense (Spoiler Alert!) or perhaps Ender’s Game – you know that once you’ve seen it – the big reveal at the end changes everything.
In the 6th Sense, you find out that Bruce Willis has been dead the entire time – and now that you know that, you cannot go back and see that movie again without the ending already in mind. Its been spoiled for you in that way.
In Ender’s Game – you find out along – with Ender, that he wasn’t just playing war simulations on a computer, but was in fact waging war on an alien race.
This is how it is reading the OT now that we know Christ has come, and has fulfilled all the types and shadows and pictures.
We can’t read the OT any more as though that hasn’t happened.
The cross sheds a backward light on everything that came before, so that you see it and read it and understand it in a completely new way.
So here. As King Lemuel’s mother speaks to us.
NOTE: Just as with Agur in chap. 31, Lemuel and his Mother are 2 personages we know absolutely nothing about, other than what is written here.
But under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Solomon closes this amazing book of Proverbs by summing it all up in her two admonitions.
And in this 1st section she warns about 3 key areas that are absolutely vital to her son as he looks to fulfill his role as a King.
All of it is being addressed as important to us within this framework of OUR being groomed for the throne as well.
3 vital areas that will directly impact her son’s ability to govern well. To discharge his royal duties with faithfulness and dignity.
- 2-3 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEY ARE MORALLY COMPROMISED.
Proverbs 31:2–3 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.
Notice how Lemuel’s Mother is hitting on something which already seems to be afoot in her son’s life.
“What are you DOING?” – 3 Times she says it.
And what IS he doing?
Paying attention to multiple women.
In our day we can say these women can be either real or virtual!
She does not say: “Don’t give your strength or be weakened by A woman, as though being married is somehow suspect – but by WOMEN – plural
It is a straightforward caution against moral compromise.
The implication being that relationships with multiple “women” weakens his ability to rule well.
And it isn’t hard to see why.
One who will violate their marriage vows, the most intimate, sacred and basic of promises in order to satisfy their lusts – are those who will violate ANY commitment – if it means personal satisfaction or enjoyment.
Those who will compromise in the home, will compromise anywhere else if it will get them what they want.
Up until the most recent of times, even the World thought that marital fidelity and longevity was a signal of a certain kind of stability and commitment – and was desirable in our political candidates.
Something which has all but evaporated in our day.
I believe it was Jonathan Edwards who said that “real love is when our happiness is in found in the happiness of another – not self.” I would add, that it is when our happiness is found in the happiness of another – irrespective of relationship even to ourselves.
If the marriage crumbles, if the home crumbles because of lack of fidelity and commitment – the whole of society crumbles. After all, a society is nothing other than its people.
And when a leader is him or HERself distracted and given to multiple competing commitments, especially morally, then there is no telling what else they will compromise on.
So Lemuel’s mother says” Don’t Do it!” As strongly as she can.
This is sound advice in the natural sense – but it is not sound advice we are after – we are after what this means concerning those in Christ – what is God’s Spirit addressing in US through such a picture?
As we’ve already noted – this impacts us because of the ROYAL calling which falls to everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the 1st of the 3 things which directly impact and cripple the Church’s effectiveness in its witness in the World.
As we saw in Rev. 5 – the END of our salvation is wrapped up with Ruling and Reigning with Christ some day.
And so we make this application: The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if WE are a morally compromised Church.
We can see this strongly addressed in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. Why he spends so much time on marriage, and rebuking easy divorce, sex outside of marriage & sexual immorality of all kinds.
Eph. 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
And even more so in Jesus’ letters to the 7 Churches in the book of Revelation. –
Rev. 2:14 &16 PERGAMUM: But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality…Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev. 2:18–22 Thyatira: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
How timely this word is in our sex-saturated culture, filled with erotic liberty trying to lay claim to being the supreme right.
Gender confusion and rampant eroticism rule the day.
Speak against anyone’s sexual “rights” a you are immediately branded as biased, judgmental, out of step, repressive, homophobic, intolerant – you name it.
Note how vs. 3 intimates the weakness of the Church, its ineffectualness – is directly connected to its moral compromise. It deprives us of our strength – of our ability to work for the Kingdom and bring about true change. It is true in the individual and it is true in the Church at large.
Sexual compromise will rob you of the ability to minister to the lives of others with any effectiveness. Even though your outward activity may seem to be OK, the spiritual impact will be nullified.
Why? Because it will sap your time, your mental faculties, your emotions, most often your money too – and all the while searing your conscience because you have to justify it when you know it’s wrong.
We cannot control these things in the culture at large – but they are NOT to be part of the Church.
In a very real sense – and applying to all 3 of the things Lemuel’s Mother will mention here – these 9 verses are an exposition of 1 Thess. 5:19.
Make no mistake – sexual immorality stifles and suppresses the motions of the Holy Spirit in the heart and soul.
The Greek word here is the same one used for extinguishing a fire.
And it is precisely why those who claim to be Christians and at the same time justify homosexuality, same sex marriage, sex outside of marriage and pornography – why they reason so non-Biblically in justifying their actions.
When the Church falls into these practices under the guise of either individual freedom – or “grace” understood as license, we actively combat the work the Spirit in our lives, and in the ministry of the Church overall.
1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Hear that? The passions of the flesh WAR against your own soul.
Some of the ways are very easy to see:
Desensitization- results in escalating secret sin. A calloused conscience.
Majoring on minors – Those compromising morally will inevitably find minor issues to fixate on – areas they can be vocal about, to divert their own minds from confronting their sin.
Preoccupation & condemnation of other’s faults or sins. The morally compromised fixate on the faults of others to try and diminish their own sense of failure and to try and feel superior.
Preoccupation with symptoms over causes. Those morally compromising – especially in secret will rail against all kinds of sin in society and announce how all our ills would be cured if we could just get prayer back in the schools, or outlaw same-sex marriage, or prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol. But these are symptoms – not the underlying cause.
Emotional isolation – secret sin does all it can to keep from being discovered, and those caught in it withdraw more and more – especially emotionally from others.
Unaccountability – Seeking out copious amounts of time alone and unexplained. They run and hide in their sin and rage against anyone that threatens their secret loves.
Touchiness over any criticism – No matter how much they try to deny the pinch of their conscience, in fact, it is constantly piercing them and leaves them defensive and touchy and miserable must of the time – especially if anything threatens their being found out.
What then is the answer for the individual AND for the church at large?: 2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
It is not simply to forsake these debilitating sins – but to pursue the advancement of the Spirit’s work within us.
He isn’t called the Holy Spirit because Holy is His first name – but because He IS holiness, and always leads us into holiness.
The Spirit of God NEVER leads someone into sin, into moral compromise or to justify sexual sin. NEVER.
Oh how we need to bow before Him as He speaks to us in His Word – unmasking the wickedness of sin and how it ravages and bankrupts the soul.
How when He has sway in our hearts He gives us courage and strength to stand against the incursions of things as they attack our souls.
He lifts up Christ in His finished work at Calvary.
He urges us to see always how utterly unfitting it is to remain in, and to foster those things which Christ gave His blood and life to cleanse us from the guilt of – and sent His Spirit to deliver us from the power of.
As we come to this closing part of Solomon’s call to wisdom, we are met with a call to repentance.
A call to fight to live in the freedom Christ purchased for us at Calvary.
A call to take up the mantle of those being groomed to rule and reign with Him in eternity – and to begin to live now as destined for that throne. Not to be mastered by ANYTHING other than love and passion for Him and His great glory.
This is not about how to BECOME a Christian – but as being His by faith in His substitutionary atonement – how to live like who and what we are IN Him – what we have been saved to be by His grace.
Lastly – we need to listen to the tone in Lemuel’s Mother’s voice. Notice, she is not yelling at him – just telling him what to do – as right as it is – she is PLEADING with Him.
“Son of my womb.”
“Son of my vows!”
And this is how the Spirit pleads with you today Christian, if this is an area of your life that needs restored.
The one I’ve given birth to.
The one I have pledged to love and keep and bless forever.
Leave this alone! It will destroy you.
And I have made you to share my throne with me.
Come seek me – and forsake that.