Moms of Bible History – Wisdom for Eternity
Study Guide , May 12, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
I came across a few things that some famous Mothers might have said…we don’t know, but they might have said it. Like: Michelangelo’s Mother: “Mike, can’t you just paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?” Or Abraham Lincoln’s Mother: “Abe, can’t you just a wear a baseball cap like the other kids? Does it have to be that stovepipe one all the time?” Or Albert Einstein’s Mother: “It’s your senior picture Albert: Can’t you do something about your hair?” And then Jonah’s Mother: “That’s a nice story Jonah, but now tell me where you’ve really been for the last three days.”1
Well, no, it’s not likely that they said these things…maybe, but we don’t know…What we do know is what we find that some Mothers from Bible history actually did say and do. And we can all glean a lot and benefit a lot from those wise words and deeds. So in honor of our Moms let’s look at these thoughts and deeds from some of your fellow Mothers.
Do these words sound familiar? Prov 31:2-9- “What, O my son? And what, O son of my womb? And what, O son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink, For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 8-9- “Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” What a powerful amount of counsel in a just few words! Actually, it starts with: “The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him.” NASU
Amazing counsel from a wise Mother, to be sure. King Lemuel is generally identified as Solomon, and the mother then being Bathsheba. However, it could have applied to a later King as well, but either way, the counsel is certain and sure, particularly in how striking the beginning is: ‘the oracle which his mother taught him.’ Is that not a cool way to describe a mother’s counsel? You know, whenever parents have some instruction or advice to give to their kids, Dads could really help set the scene by using this. Like, “Now listen kids. I want you to hear what your Mother has to say: She has an ‘oracle’ to teach you.”
But this Mother’s counsel is like bullet points of wisdom. And notice how she bases her counsel by first reminding her son of his identity: “It’s not for kings, O Lemuel; it’s not for kings.” Moms; one of the most powerful truths and motivators parents have to instruct our children about their choices and their behaviors is based on their identity. It is absolutely crucial that Christian children come to learn and understand their true identity. Now, our King is King Jesus, who is both Lord and King of Creation. But as children of the King, we are by birth, spiritual birth, royalty as to our very identity. And since we are royalty by our very birthright as born again children of our God and King, God’s children are to then act and to live before the world as a king or queen would act and live and serve. And the more we reinforce this true identity to our children that we are God’s royal children…essentially kings and queens of this world, the better our children can then come to understand both their great privileges and their great responsibilities in this world.
Plus, it clears up any ideas they naturally have about living and acting based upon what their peers or others around are doing or choosing. Their identity of royalty immediately separates out that kind of thinking; of just choosing things and doing things because that’s what everyone else around them is doing. No, that thinking is replaced with; ‘Yes, that’s something others might do, but it’s not for kings, and it’s not for queens. And because you belong to King Jesus you are His king and queen in this world.
Every child of King Jesus is called to a higher level of living…a higher standard…a higher responsibility, because we are endowed with higher privileges. Our Savior is also our King, and therefore we live not for ourselves and we’re not to be controlled by others. We live for our God of creation and our Savior of our souls, and be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We are King’s kids, and so everything we do is now to be done in light of who we are and what we have been assigned to do in this world by our King.
So what we find here is this wise mother then giving principles about character and morality and duty for kings. And the great thing about principles is that they are like pilings that form the foundation of a tall house or like a strong pier. You can build on them…you can stand on them. For example: King Lemuel’s mother was essentially teaching him about goodness. And godly Mothers are especially advantaged in this counsel. They radiate goodness and their ‘goodness’ becomes a powerful influence on children, even if children do resist it from time to time. Which is something Moms are also to be reminded about, and that is, just like with Lemuel or Solomon…we know from history that he made some bad choices that he alone was responsible for. He had some definite problems with his morality later on, with his 700 wives and 300 cucumber vines…but the point is; Mothers are responsible for their counsel to their children, but not for the choices their children make. Each person is responsible for his or her own choices…although we know that a Mom’s heart is still affected by them. As has been said, ‘A child outgrows your lap, but never outgrows your heart.’ But when the choices they make are godly choices then the Mother receives the blessings from those, too.
This Mother’s counsel was both tender and tough. Out of love for God and love for her son she warns him of things like dangers of adultery and dangers of alcoholism. She calls for him to have a passion for the needs of others rather than giving in to the passions of his natural self. And she reminds him that he is responsible to not only deal with others with compassion but to also dedicate himself to doing justice. As a leader of others he was to stand up for the protection of others. Which, for boys, that’s another key identity, that they come to learn that a man is a ‘Protector’; a protector of not only his loved ones, but to any and all who need protection from a cruel world around them.
So, yes, pretty remarkable counsel for sure. And of course, the challenge is then in communicating these things in ways that children of all ages can understand. But that’s something that Moms also excel in…communication, so Moms, you just know how to say things…which is great!
Now then, does this next statement sound familiar? “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV Right, that has often been quoted in weddings, but actually those were the words of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law…Ruth to Naomi. And, of course, that was after both of Naomi’s sons had died and the daughters-in-law were deciding about returning to their homeland. Do you remember Ruth’s sister’s name? Orpah, which is close sounding to another name. Some of you probably know that Oprah Winfrey said that her first name was originally spelled Orpah on her birth certificate, after this woman in the Book of Ruth, but people mispronounced it so often that it became ‘Oprah’ from then on.
Anyway, back to Ruth. When it comes to Mothers Day, it’s Naomi that is often talked about, and what she did to help Ruth, and in caring for Ruth and assisting her in her survival and later marriage to a wealthy landowner named Boaz. But we can also focus on the things that made Ruth the kind of person she was that later made her into the honored wife of Boaz and the esteemed mother that she was. And you know who Ruth was both mother and grandmother to? She was the mother of Obed and the grandmother of King David!
There are many ways to describe Ruth’s character and commendable qualities, but something that we should really point out about Ruth is that in every challenge and every situation she faced, by God’s grace and her faith, Ruth took it to the next level. She took every low point in her life and stepped it up to the next level of faith and action. It’s like what I remember Dr. Howard Hendricks saying one time to a guy who was really low. He said, “So how are you doing?” And the guy said, “Oh, not bad under the circumstances.” And Dr. Hendricks said: “Well, what are you doing under there?!”
By the grace of God we don’t have to live under our circumstances…we can by faith step up…and step on top of them…step up to the next level of walking by faith and not by sight.
It’s like when Ruth had to make the decision about returning to Moab and her familiar surroundings: Instead of letting her circumstances dictate her actions she turned her eyes upon the Lord and committed herself to helping Naomi, even though she had just lost her own husband after ten years of marriage. So even though we do see that Naomi was caring for her, Ruth was actually caring for Naomi as well. And the first thing that Ruth does after returning to Israel is that she offers to go and work in the fields in order to provide for her mother-in-law and herself. Notice: Ruth 2:1-3-“Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.” NLT
How amazing it that? Now, although Naomi was related to this wealthy landowner, it does not appear that Ruth knew about that since she said she was willing to work where anyone was kind enough to let her. So this faithful woman, let’s call her…this ‘mother in the making’, was an industrious woman. She took the initiative of being a servant and was willing to work hard and do whatever she could to be a blessing to Naomi. And not only was she industrious, she was also humble. She just wanted to help and do whatever it took to be a blessing. She asked if there was a field around them where she could pick grain and glean from. In other words, we aren’t told if Naomi had said anything about having a wealthy relative or not, but we do know that Ruth didn’t start with her eyes on the wealth…she started with a willingness to work. And she didn’t make demands on anyone in self-pride…rather she demonstrated to everyone her genuine humility. And in doing so, just like the Scriptures say…James 4:10- “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” NASU Ruth committed herself to humbly serving others and God then committed Himself to exalting her. That’s they way God has always worked. When God sees us humbling ourselves before Him and others, He sees to the exalting of us…sooner or later, but surely.
And that is a powerful truth about humility and exaltation that Mothers can demonstrate and teach to their children about these wonderful ways of God. And humility does have to be demonstrated and does have to be taught, because in the natural self, in the sinful human nature, self-pride grows naturally, like a weed in the soul. But humility is a fruit of the spirit that has to be cultured like a fruit on a vine. Children have to be taught to regularly spray some spiritual ‘Roundup’ on their weeds of self-pride. And spray it again and again, because it keeps trying to grow up through the cracks of your character, right? And then they need to be taught to nurture the fruit of humility…to seek to grow the fruit of a humble spirit by watering it with the Word of God and faith. Also, children need to learn that just like weeds are common and are of little value, on the other hand, fruit is rare and admired and very valuable. Again, like Ruth, virtuous Mothers become virtuous Mothers because they have cultivated these virtues of having a servant spirit and a humble attitude long before they became Mothers.
But notice another way that Ruth went to the next level. She simply acted in faith by going to this field where she just trusted that Naomi’s God, whom she had also made to be her God, would guide her. I love how the passage says: “…and as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz…” Right, ‘as it happened’ or it just so happened…like, what are the odds of that? Just another one of those ‘providential co-incidences’!
And I also like how when Boaz met the workers he said this: Ruth 2:4- “Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” NASU How’s that for a great way for an employer to talk to his employees as they start the work day? What a great example of a godly employer.
But the point here is that, as Ruth stepped up in faith to do whatever she could do to help and serve, the Lord made sure that He would direct her steps. Prov 16:9- “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” NASU How wonderful is that promise? Ruth was walking by faith, but the Lord was directing her steps…directing her into His plan for her life because she wanted to follow her God and to be a blessing to her family. And those lessons from her life became the very life lessons that she would later teach to her children and to her children’s children, like King David.
God is greatly pleased with the the virtues of godly Mothers and has promised to greatly reward all your works and service as you bless your family and bless us all. Thank you Moms!
- Sayings of Mothers from: humormatters.com