Living Like Kings
Proverbs 31:1-9; Deut. 10:17-22; 16:18-20; 2 Sam. 23:3-4
As mentioned the last 2 times, the language of this final chapter forces us to go back to the very beginning of the book.
These 1st 9 verses especially, addressing “KINGS”.
Once again we note that we actually come full circle in the book.
Solomon is preparing his son for the throne,
Lemuel’s mother is preparing him for the throne –
and 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.”
So far – we’ve seen 2 vital principles:
In the natural: I. 2-3 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEY ARE MORALLY COMPROMISED.
In the Spiritual: 1. The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if WE are a morally compromised Church.
In the natural: II. 4-7 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEIR PERCEPTIONS AND JUDGEMENTS ARE SKEWED BY UNHEALTHY INFLUENCES.
In the Spiritual: 2. The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we are not sober in our perceptions and judgments.
So in vss. 8-9 we have our 3rd Principle: III. 8-9 / KINGS CANNOT RULE WELL IF THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITES ABOVE THEIR OWN FIAT.
Proverbs 31:8–9 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Charles Bridges notes: Very soundly does the wise mother inculcate mercy in her royal son. This is one of the pillars of the king’s throne (20:28 [kjv]). He must be the father of his people, using all his authority to protect those who cannot protect themselves. No case of distress, when coming to his knowledge, should be refused his attention. Thus our law makes the judge the counsel for the prisoner who is unable to plead for himself. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
In ruling well – It is the duty of Kings to protect, provide, & insure justice for, those, who by reason of age or defect cannot protect, provide or speak up for themselves.
This is true in every strata of authority from the home to the state to the Church.
It is a popular misconception that part of the Hippocratic Oath which Physicians take states: “First do no harm.” Prob. A 19th century phrase.
But it fits well here.
Those in power must look out for those over whom they rule.
Their position of rulership is first & foremost a position of CARE.
To make decisions & to administrate justice in the way which is best for human flourishing for ALL under their care.
This is the rule in all ministry as well – & why those who function as elders & deacons (or any other role) are charged with protecting others from false doctrines which wound & kill the soul, as well as feeding them on the most healthful of all things – The Word of God.
This is how we can do you the most good!
- The Church cannot represent the Gospel to the World if we do not recognize rights & responsibilities above ourselves.
In this sense we realize the Church is NOT self-governing, but under the Lordship of Christ.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
It is the duty of Believers to protect, provide, & insure justice for, those, who by reason of age or defect cannot protect, provide or speak up for themselves.
The Church cannot serve as Christ’s vice-regents if we are not impartial and given over to justice and the rights of those who are poor and unable to defend themselves.
There is no question that God was greatly invested in Israel being a nation that operated in administering justice to its people, instead of despotic fiat.
Lex Rex (before Samuel Rutherford – 1600’s) to Christus Rex – under the Lordship of God Himself was to guide their dealings.
The Church can do no less.
We are to be vitally interested in what is justice, especially for those who are poor or marginalized and helpless.
Those who cannot, either due to age or circumstances seek justice for themselves.
The Church is to be a champion of justice in the world.
We might say this is the first layer of application we must take from this passage.
But secondly, we have to see how this especially applies to “Opening OUR Mouths.”
Notice these words repeated twice: “Open your Mouth”
When we see our governments failing in these matters – it is our responsibility to speak up.
When for instance, our government pursues the allowance of abortion in our society – it is The Church who has the 1st responsibility to decry it & protect the rights of those unborn babies who cannot speak for themselves, nor protect nor provide for themselves.
When policies like the promotion of state sponsored gambling which preys upon those least able to recognize the damage it does & wreaks havoc in the parts of society who can least sustain that damage – it is the Church who must speak up.
We must not be afraid to OPEN OUR MOUTHS.
We could site many, many others such concerns, like legalized prostitution, or same sex marriage – but there is a 3rd layer which is still more crucial to take in.
All that we have said thus far is true in the cultural realm, but I believe the text leads us to understand it even more so in the spiritual context.
Yet even before we unpack that 3rd layer – let us be reminded how it is that Christ will bring justice when He comes.
We need to constantly remind ourselves that Jesus will at last bring to right every wrong.
No one will escape.
Those countless millions who have suffered under tyrants, despots, systems, civil OR religious &/or individuals will one day see justice poured out.
No one escapes justice when they die.
Each will be resurrected to stand before the throne of God to give an account and to “receive” from Him, regarding those things done while they were alive in their bodies.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
This is why we must be doubly careful not to seek revenge or retribution as Christ’s people – but entrust final justice in His hands.
Because He IS just, He cannot over-punish any, nor can He err and UNDER-punish any.
So what then is that 3rd layer which I think we need to give special attention to here?
In the twice repeated “open your mouth” do we not have the most urgent call to prayer?
For even if we cannot bring about justice in our age, we CANtake up the cause of those who cannot plead for themselves, who are either too young, or by defect of some kind unable – to plead for themselves.
After all, who are more unable to even perceive their own need than the lost?
Blind and deaf and insensible of their state.
Unable to cry out for themselves.
Are we not to intercede for them?
Are we not to take their cause before the Throne of Grace – to plead for their souls and that they might find justice in the cross of Christ rather than stand before it in themselves on the Day of Judgment?
If we haven’t done this for our cultural and governmental leaders who are apart from Christ – then all our other speaking up and into the society will have little or no effect!
We’ve only done ½ of our job if all we’ve done is decry sin & injustice – the texts calls us to open our mouths twice!
Decry – yes! But ALSO – plead on behalf of these still so lost they don’t even know to plead for themselves.
Isn’t this the heart of Paul in Rom. 3 when he cries that he wishes he might be accursed so that his brothers & sisters in Judaism might know the Redeemer
Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Who are more mute before God, not even pleading their own cause than the lost?
Who are more destitute than those who are without Christ?
Who are more poor and needy than those who have none of the blood of Christ to cover their shame and their guilt, and have nothing of Christ’s Holy Spirit indwelling them?
As those destined to rule and reign with Jesus – the one whom says of Himself that He: “came to seek and to save the lost” – do we not take into account the great day of reckoning and in it plead now for an end to the violence on earth,
An end to war to rape & abuse & rage & injustice of all kinds?
Ought we not to be praying Father “THY will be done on this earth as it is in Heaven”
Can’t we open our mouths BOTH TO those perishing, in announcing the Gospel, & TO the Father to have mercy upon them & to free them from the grossest of cosmic injustices in having been lied to by the Devil and kept in their darkness by his machinations?
No where can we be a more impactful people than upon our knees – pleading.
To open our mouths for those loved ones, sons, daughters, spouses, siblings, fathers, mothers, friends, relatives & strangers who still need the mercy of our Savior!
“Open your mouth” Lemuel’s mother tells him – “open your mouth” – cry out to the God who hears & answers and whose Gospel is to reach the farthest corners of the earth – to “every living creature” as Jesus told His disciples.
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Matthew 9:37–38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Open your mouth says Jesus that the Lord of the Harvest may send many workers into the field.
Open your mouth to plead for those who have sinned against you that they might not stand before the throne of Judgment naked without Christ’s righteousness.
For it is such a terrible & unthinkable end as to torment to our own souls that such – even as they – should perish in the Godless terrors of an eternal Hell – without any further hope of redemption.
Lastly – before we leave this text, we need to notice something more: The overarching context in which Lemuel’s mother speaks.
When she mentions “rights” in vss. 8 & 9 – she is appealing to some grand scheme of JUSTICE.
That justice & not Lemuel’s mere opinion or choice must guide him in ruling well.
Something above & outside of himself.
From which we take this idea of 1st importance: The Gospel itself is rooted in justice.
It is a grave mistake to think that salvation is the cosmic equivalent of olly olly oxen in free (possibly “All ye, all ye ‘outs’ in free,”, or from the German “alle alle auch sind frei” – everyone is also free)
God doesn’t just wave His hand and say “I forgive you.”
The plan of salvation – for God to redeem lost sinners to Himself required a means, one which would provide forgiveness for all who believe, while at the same time preventing the violation of His justice.
How can the Judge of all the universe, spare any sinner without violating His own nature, without being unjust?
He is by nature JUST. He must always act in perfect justice.
Justice requires that sin be paid for – the just sentence for the offender be carried out.
This is precisely why we need – and preach THE CROSS of Christ.
On the Cross, God can pour out His just wrath on the Willing Substitute – Jesus.
The Father willingly accepts His sacrifice, & on the basis of it can offer not merely forgiveness, but a pronouncement of “RIGHTEOUS” – “NOT GUILTY” on the accused.
Jesus takes our guilt upon Himself – pays our penalty – but then rises from the dead to give us eternal life.
Someone else – not guilty of any sin of their own steps up and says “I’ll Pay the Death Penalty.”
The God of the cross justifies the ungodly through Christ’s substitution so that His mercy is not expressed at the expense of His justice.
Lose this – & the Gospel ceases to make any sense.
Only if it is a means to clear the guilty & still preserve justice can we be saved.
Hence the false Gospel of today which says the death of Christ was not penal and substitutionary.
 Charles Bridges, Proverbs (Crossway Classic Commentaries; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 280.