When I was first studying to be an elementary teacher, I read a great book by Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In the book, Fulghum describes how the rules of engagement that little ones are taught are the foundation for their adult character. As the mother of (then) two little boys, this was so affirming!
The Bible gives us an excellent example of a mother teaching her son what it takes to successfully lead others. Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 31 for the way it describes a good wife. But we overlook the first verses, where Bathsheba counsels her son, Solomon (nicknamed, “Lemuel”) on the way to build godly leadership.
Being a Godly Leader, by Bathsheba
Here are the bits of sage advice given by Bathsheba to Solomon, in Proverbs 31:
#1. Listen to your parents — they can teach you, and you’ll live a long life as a result (verses 1-2).
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12)
“Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise…” (Eph 6:2)
#2. Be careful of the company you keep — not everyone has your best interests in mind. (Verse 3)
“Do not be unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and lawlessness have in common? What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14)
“Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:7-8)
#3. Avoid drinking too much — so you don’t forget who you are and what you’re here for. (Verses 4-7)
“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1Cor 6:12)
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18)
#4. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Verse 8)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Eph 5:1)
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4)
#5. Speak up for the rights of the poor (Verse 8).
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Lk 6:38)
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jn 3:17)
#6. Judge others fairly (Verse 9).
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:3-5)
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt 7:2)
#7. Defend the rights of those in need (Verse 9).
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chose: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.” (Isa 58:6-9)
#8. Build up your mate and your marriage — this is more important than having a lot of money (Verse 10).
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Prov 31:10
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Prov 18:22)
#9. Give your mate honor in your speech (Verse 31)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph 4:29)
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Ps 127:1)
#10. Love God with all your might. (Verse 30)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mk 12:30)
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:2-3)
More Posts on Proverbs:
This post is one of a series on the Book of Proverbs.