Living Like Kings
Proverbs 31:1-9; Leviticus 10:1-11
THE AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND BY CLICKING HERE
As mentioned last time, the language of this final chapter forces us to go back to the very beginning of the book.
The 1st part of the chapter, is addressing “KINGS” & the 2nd part, what is often referred to as “THE VIRTUOUS WOMAN”.
In these, we actually come full circle –
In chap. 1 – Solomon is preparing his son for the throne,
Here: Lemuel’s mother is preparing him for the throne –
And by extension: The Holy Spirit is preparing all of Christ’s blood bought ones for the throne.
As we read in 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, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
The First concern – 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.
- 2-3 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEY ARE MORALLY COMPROMISED.
- The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if WE are a morally compromised Church.
The Second Concern: Proverbs 31:4–7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
- 4-7 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEIR PERCEPTIONS AND JUDGEMENTS ARE SKEWED BY UNHEALTHY INFLUENCES.
Eph. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
The idea here is to be aware of the influence of intoxicants.
Why? Intoxicants all have the same basic properties.
- Indulgence in it dulls the senses.
It robs one of the ability to think & reason clearly.
It temporarily dulls pain (which is often why it is so attractive – especially to those suffering inner turmoil & pain).
But in the process, it also dull happiness – for it is a mock happiness, brought on by a mere chemical effect & not on any true change in the inward state.
- It skews the perceptions. (Self portrait of Francis Bacon)
Reality is blurred. (Blurred picture)
It prevents one from perceiving either negative or positive things properly, & prevents clear reflection upon truth in any form.
It makes you prey to lies from others along with the propensity to believe the lies you tell yourself.
This may seem at first to make bad things less ominous, but it also makes good things less fulfilling.
It will justify unreasonable actions & opinions, while dulling the conscience as it calls to right action.
Like the volume control on a radio – you cannot use it to lower the volume on just one station.
When you use it, it lowers the volume on every station at the same time.
- It destroys inhibitions.
The God-given lines that we know we ought not to cross, suddenly disappear. Anything becomes possible.
Nothing is truly taboo.
It robs us of the ability to sense rightful shame over truly shameful things.
It gives us permission to sin without blushing.
- It allows anger to flow unfettered, and turns true love into meaningless sentimentality.
Outlandish statements will spew forth.
Control over the emotions will dissipate & passions will gain the ascendency – no matter what the aftermath – because emotions seldom allow us to see beyond them.
They take up our whole field of vision.
All these, & many more are the results of intoxication.
So it makes the utmost sense that Lemuel’s mother would want her son to be able to rule well – protected from these influences.
But there is a particular application to we who in Christ, are destined to rule and reign with Him.
- The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we are not sober in our perceptions and judgments.
10 Times the NT calls Believers to be “sober-minded”
vs. 5 clarifies – it is in being under the influence of anything that leads us to forget God’s decrees, & then to pervert the rights of the afflicted.
And what greater perversion can we commit against those still afflicted by sin & guilt than distorting or depriving them of God’s Word?
If we are drunk on consumerism, drunk on trends, drunk on worldly wealth, drunk on self-importance, drunk on political power, etc.
The picture of drunkenness is one of the loss of clear perception & proper inhibition.
We have a startling example of this out of the Old Testament that is seldom linked to this exact problem.
The death of Nadab & Abihu – Leviticus 10:1-11
In their case, only 7 days into their being consecrated as God’s priests for God’s people, they imbibe in wine or strong drink enough, that forgetting the things God has just laid out for them in minute detail about how He is to be approached and worshipped – they cast it aside & innovate their own ways – and pay the ultimate price.
So with Christians: We cease being the Church in any effective sense when our judgments are skewed by anything blurring God’s reality.
For this reason – the Priests in the OT were not allowed to drink anything alcoholic when ministering.
This is critical to our role as Christ’s kingdom of PRIESTS on earth.
But lest we narrow this too much only to drunkenness in terms of alcohol – we need to remember that we can be so filled with many things, that the 4 things we noted above are true – whether alcohol is involved or not.
Revelation 17:1–5 – Drunk on immorality
Eph. 4:30–31 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
And doesn’t this take us right back to what we saw last week? – how that these 9 verses in Prov. 31 serve as a sort of exposition of
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Timothy 3:8 reminds us that those in Church leadership (there, Elders & Deacons) are not to be “addicted to much wine”.
“Addiction” is word with a lot of freight due to its use in the mental health professions of the day. But it is also an apt word when understood properly and in this context.
The word for addicted here being a word used 24 times in the New Testament to communicate the idea of being focused upon, concerned about and occupied with.
It is most often translated “beware”, “pay attention to yourselves”, “watch”, “be careful.”
It evokes the image of something always claiming our thoughtful attention. Something of such importance that it needs to occupy a place in our normal consciousness.
Addiction to: SUCCESS
NOTORIETY or STANDING in other’s eyes
ATTRACTION TO another
NEED FOR anything which I perceive missing in life
VIDEO GAMES – Average gamer is the US is 30 years old
ACCEPTANCE BY SOME PERSON OR GROUP – the need to “belong”
Retreating into any form of anything that dulls reality and skews true perception and understanding from God’s point of view.
Blurring what Francis Schaeffer used to call “REAL REALITY”.
What then is the answer?
There is but one.
Something higher must take the place of our preoccupation.
Something more wonderful.
Something of greater beauty, higher benefit, sweeter joy, more complete satisfaction and more lasting fulfillment.
Thomas Chalmers: THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION.
“There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world – either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.”
Not something merely to dull the “pain” of our fallenness, but what contains the hope of our eternal future.
Training the heart and the mind to find our deepest happiness and satisfaction in Jesus Christ.
To give ourselves over to searching Him out as our highest pleasure, until He displaces every other joy as a mere trifle.
When tempted to “take a drink” – to seek Him in prayer that moment by the Spirit, to be the answer to what our inner man is yearning for.
And to continue that course in faith believing that He will answer that pursuit with an ever increasing revelation of His goodness to our soul.
To find our all – in Jesus Christ who alone – as the Apostle Paul says: “fills all in all: Him.
And I find no more practical way to approach that, than in the things Paul mentions to us through the Spirit where he addresses this directly.
The reason why we go to this passage, is because here, The Holy Spirit has set “being drunk” side by side with “being filled with the Spirit” to give us the ultimate contrast.
Ephesians 5:15–21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1. Walking: as “wise” people. Living in the light of God’s revelation in Christ – & let that influence your heart, mind and emotions more than anything else.
2. Understanding: what the will of the Lord is.
What is found first & foremost in His Word – not in our feelings. Grapple with what He has revealed to us.
Let that influence us above other things.
3. Addressing: one another.
Reiterating to ourselves & to each other the truth of God’s Word. So indulging in the truth as it is in Christ, that it become ours “song” – the thing we cannot get out of our heads.
And our joy – “making melody”.
4. Giving thanks: Dwell on the goodness of God in His gracious providences.
Remind yourself of His constant good will toward you.
Of your being clean from sin and guilt by the blood of Christ.
Of how He redeems everything in life so that it may be useful to know Him more, and to grow into His likeness.
Of the great promise of the resurrection and the World to come – that this present disordered world is only temporary and will give way to unthinkable glory!
5. Submitting: Being so humbled by His grace, that you find your delight in serving and submitting to one another in Christ.
Eph. 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
The “drunk” aren’t being Wise
The “drunk” have their understanding impaired
The “drunk” do not address others in a way glorifying/revealing Christ
The “drunk” are not filled with thanksgiving for Christ’s blessings
The “drunk” are not humble – but falsely bold!
In direct contrast – This is what the Spirit filled life looks like – the clear vision of the one filled with His Spirit instead of having the thoughts & perceptions skewed and impaired by other things.
This is a person walking in God’s World, God’s way.
This person understands life without distortion.
This is the gift promised to all who come to Christ by faith.
To every Believer.
Is this you? Then this is your privilege. Your Birthright. Settle for nothing less!
If this is not you – won’t you come to Him today?
Won’t you acknowledge the rebellion you’ve lived in all these years – refusing to serve Him, refusing to own your sinfulness and need of a redeemer?
Refusing to condemn yourself so that in turning to Him for mercy & grace you might be reconciled to God through the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for your sins?
Then – if you do – as Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost – this promise of the Spirit will be for you too!
Dear Pastor Reid,
I appreciate your message from Proverbs 31. Today in church as you emphasized that we need to pray for the lost souls of our leaders in government, I felt that while you are right about that, we need to be even more inspired to pray for the souls of the poor and the defenseless all around us. It is they who I believe Lemuel’s mother and God are most concerned with in this passage, and the admonishment is for kings to seek justice for them. Kings and leaders have a heavy responsibility to act justly and with mercy – especially with regard to the destitute.
May God bless you, and may He continue to inspire you to preach and teach Hid word.
Thanks so much for your kind words John. Your comment is spot on. I did fail to make that emphasis more central. There is no question in the first case, the idea is for Lemuel to govern justly and to meet the needs of the poor and disenfranchised – to make sure justice is done for all under his rule. It was by extension that I was applying it beyond that in terms of our position. Good call. Blessings brother.