“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely,
for then his greatness
will reach the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace…
From a prophecy of the prophet Micah about the invasion, captivity and destruction of Israel by Babylon and Assyria, but also about a coming Messiah and Ruler, whom many would not – and will not – recognize until the end.
The words of the Teacher,
son of David, king in Jerusalem:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
– Ecclesiastes 1:1-7
Solomon’s class was a philosophy class. He begins his lecture with the rather attention getting statement of the meaninglessness of everything so that the student asks the question – What is meaningful?
On the daily hamster wheel of life, weeks folding in and out and fading into oblivion like an endless accordion, Sun going round and round (or rather, Earth going round and round), minutes escaping us one by one, it’s easy to get lost in the rhythm and monotony, and more importantly, to fail to get perspective on the whole affair. What is the meaning of life? What makes life meaningful? What is meaningful?
The sayings of King Lemuel – an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength (or wealth) on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, Lemuel – it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Usually when we hear Proverbs 31 quoted (especially as women), it’s the part about the wife of noble character. But the first part of Proverbs 31 is some good advice to a young king from his mother. Don’t chase women or wine. Speak up and judge fairly. Defend the defenseless. If all mothers taught their sons this, and all sons remembered as well as King Lemuel seems to have, the world would be a better place, don’t you think?