The words of a mother in Proverbs 31 reflect what her prayers must have been for a son who would become a ruler. Although he is identified as Lemuel, a name otherwise unknown in the Bible, some have suggested that he was Solomon, and that these words come from Bathsheba. She (as also do the first chapters of Proverbs) warns her son about women who can distract, or even destroy him. She warns him that drinking alcoholic beverages may distort his judgment and cause him to “pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (verse 5). She instructs her some to be an advocate for the powerless and for those who cannot speak for themselves:
“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” (Proverbs 31:8-9).
She prays that her son truly will lead and inspire his people. She wants him to respect all his citizens, regardless of what they can do for him in return. She wants her son to strengthen the weak and to give a voice to those whose protests of injury are ignored.
As we pray for our children, whether newborn or in their thirties, or in their sixties, let us pray too that they may live with love, listen with thoughtfulness, and act with caring, respectful concern for all whom they encounter. Let us pray that when they have been injured by others who abused their power or their relationship, that they will heal. Let us pray too that we may be examples they will want to follow as they obey God.
God of justice and love, you inspire us with your wisdom and concern for the weak and poor to use power to build and to protect people. You give many of us a special trust by placing children in our care. May we receive this trust with humility, and justify it by showing them a path that leads to light rather darkness, to joy rather than to despair. I pray that my children may always remember that other people are made in your image, and while that may sometimes be hard to detect, have that awareness lead them to treat other people with respect and honor. Lord, help us to be worthy of the trust you have given. In Jesus’ name, amen.