Reading the Word
Proverbs 31:8–9 (ESV)
8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Understanding and Applying the Word
This passage comes at the end of a section that is ascribed to King Lemuel. These words are things his mother taught him (cf. Proverbs 31:1). After Lemuel’s mother told him not to allow himself to be distracted by women or strong drink, he was told to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves. He was to be a king who concerned himself with justice and protecting the rights of all, especially the rights of those who are often deprived of such things.
We live in a world where justice and rights are often trampled on, not just in foreign lands, but right here in our own country. This has been true throughout human history and will continue into the future. It is a symptom of mankind’s core problem: sin. The rich and powerful seek to take advantage of the poor and vulnerable. As followers of Christ, we must heed the words of Lemuel’s mother and stand up for the rights of the oppressed. And as we do so, we can look to the future, when Christ will reign over all and will do so with perfect justice and righteousness. Consider the words from the Prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 11:1–5 (ESV)
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
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