Do you ever hear an expression that reminds you of something your mother used to say? Do you find yourself using the same expressions—even the ones you swore you wouldn’t—with your own children? A mother’s words, whether because of wisdom or mere repetition, can become set in concrete in our minds.
Mothers have an adage for every occasion. Meeting strangers: “Don’t talk to them or take anything from them.” Meals: “Eat everything on your plate. There are starving children in China.” Accidents: “Don’t do that. You’ll break your neck.” (My neck was apparently in danger many times.) And just in case: “Always wear clean underwear with no holes in case you’re in an accident.”
Then there was her seasonal advice. Would I really catch pneumonia if I didn’t take a sweater in the fall or went out in the winter with wet hair? I don’t know what would have happened if I wore white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. I grew up being warned against such folly and so far have avoided it.
See if any of these motherly expressions bring back memories:
“Don’t ask why. Because I said so.”
“A little hard work never hurt anyone.”
“Pretty is as pretty does.”
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
“I’m doing this for your own good. Someday you’ll thank me.”
Motherly advice is nothing new. It has been going on since Eve, who probably warned her children of the danger of talking to snakes. In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us that his mother gave him advice: “The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him” (Prov. 31:1 NIV). Since there was no “King Lemuel” in Israel’s history, most Bible scholars assume this was what Solomon’s mother called him. (Mother’s nicknames—a whole ’nother category.)
What did Solomon’s mother tell him? She warned him against wild women and alcohol and urged him to be a kind-hearted ruler (31:2-9). History records that advice—like that of many other mothers—was mostly ignored.
Whether personally heeded or not, the proverbs Solomon collected that were included in the Bible abound with motherly (and Heavenly Father) concern and wisdom. Here are a few that Solomon may have heard while growing up around the palace:
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Prov. 1:10).
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (6:6).
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:28).
“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (23:5).
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (17:28).
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother” (29:15).
In other words, Solomon’s mother (like you and I) probably said to her offspring: “Someday you’ll thank me for this.”
©copyright 2012 by Vicki Huffman
Vicki Huffman is the author of two Christian non-fiction books and one Christian-based novel which are available in various forms through the author (email Mentoring Moments) or amazon.com. To read the first chapter of her novel A Secret Hope at no cost, follow here.