The words of King LEMUEL,

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they are the burden

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which his mother taught him:


These are the words of the King who BELONGS TO GOD, weighty words that his mother taught him:



The name Lemuel comes from two words – the preposition “at, to, for or upon,” and the name EL, which means “God.” Thus the name Lemuel can mean “to God,” “for God,” “belonging to God,” or “separated unto God.” I think “belonging to God” is the most likely. Lemuel was an additional name his mother gave him to remind him who he belonged to.


The Hebrew noun used here basically means “burden,” but it can also point to “that which carries a burden,” or to important words such as an “oracle” or a “prophetic utterance.” It is often translated as “utterance” in cases like this one, but I have chosen to make clear in the translation column that the word basically meant “burden” and the people of that day would have known its root meaning. When this word was used of things that were spoken, it was usually a warning of impending punishment. Here it was a combination of some warnings, and some positive direction or instruction. It refers to important things his mother taught him about women (v 3), strong drink (vv 4-7), the need to speak for the defenseless (vv8-9). and her description of a capable household manager (verses 10-31).


The teachings of Prov 31 were taught to this future king by his mother.

Throughout history kings have assigned tutors to teach their children, especially the boys. We are given the name of the man David placed in charge of his sons, it was Jehiel (I Chron 27:32). He probably served as the leader over a team of tutors, caregivers, counselors and protectors for all David’s sons. However, despite the presence of male instructors, the mother of a prince also played an important role in guiding and preparing him for the future. It is because of the importance of her influence that the Bible often mentions the “queen mother.” The powerful influence of a mother is the impetus for the old English proverb that says: “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

I suggest that Proverbs 31:1-9 contains things she shared with him in preparation for him to possibly become the king someday. However, I believe that verses 10-31, the description of a wife who is a good household manager, was given to him earlier as guidance in choosing a wife, regardless of whether or not he became king. Thus the entire chapter contains a summary of some of the most important teaching she had given him through her years of training.