HOW COULD ‘WISE’ KING SOLOMON LET FOREIGN WOMEN DECEIVE HIM?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Friends and brethren, a most tantalizing question, is it not? It is especially peculiar when recalling that King Solomon issued several admonitions throughout the book of Proverbs for his audience to avoid relations with “strange,” or idolatrous/pagan Gentile women. In this study, we will compare Scripture with Scripture to understand why King Solomon, despite his wisdom, behaved very foolishly, especially toward the latter part of his reign over God’s nation, Israel. There is a lesson in it for us, too!
DAVID’S PARTING CHARGES TO SOLOMON
King Solomon started out well. Before dying, David his father had advised him concerning JEHOVAH God and His laws. That counsel is 1 Kings chapter 2: “ Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,  I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;  And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:  That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.”
Dying David charged young Solomon not to forsake the Law of Moses. David knew the spiritual disaster that awaited Israel if Solomon failed. The nation would receive JEHOVAH’S curses, and ultimately she would be cast of out of His land (Deuteronomy chapter 28; Leviticus chapter 26). As head of state, Israel’s king had to be a spiritual example. David knew Solomon had divine commandments to follow. In fact, through Moses, the Holy Spirit had given instructions to all of Israel’s kings some 500 years before Solomon ascended to the throne.
Deuteronomy chapter 17: “ When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;  Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.  But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.  Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.  And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:  That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
Israel’s king was to copy out the parts of the Bible that had been written up to his point in time (at least Moses’ five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy). He was to study this, his personal copy of the Old Testament scrolls. Again, as Israel’s leader, the king had a grave responsibility. God was ruling over Israel through him. All the Gentile nations around Israel were to see what it was like to have the Creator of heaven and earth reigning over a nation. Israel’s king was to so familiarize himself with JEHOVAH’S laws that he could govern His people according to those decrees. David had done it (mostly), and he was now charging Solomon to be sure he kept JEHOVAH’S laws forefront in his thinking. That Mosaic Covenant was not to be broken. If it was, Israel could not be God’s kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:3-6) and would ultimately be exiled into foreign lands.
One of the passages Moses had written was Exodus chapter 34: “ Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.  Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:  But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:  For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:  Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;  And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.  Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.”
Numbers 25:1-3 is one case in point: “ And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.  And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.  And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.” Once Israel’s men got sexually involved with the daughters of Moab (pagan Gentiles), the Jews began to worship the idols of the Moabites. God had correctly predicted this would happen.
Judges 3:5-7, which also occurred centuries before Solomon, is another example of Israel’s intermarriage with Gentiles as being utterly disastrous: “ And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:  And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”
Unfortunately, however, Solomon did not learn these lessons from his nation’s history.
SOLOMON’S GRADUAL SPIRITUAL DECLINE
Within the first few years of his reign, we read of Solomon’s actions in 1 Kings chapter 3: “ And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.  Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord, until those days.  And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.”
Solomon’s first mistake recorded in Scripture was that he married a pagan Egyptian woman, and then he brought her into God’s Holy Land. Marriages were often done to guarantee treaties with other nations. Pharaoh king of Egypt offered Solomon his daughter in marriage, that their agreement be strengthened. For David’s sake, the LORD was gracious to Solomon despite his faults. God will change His dealings with Solomon in the coming decades, as Solomon drifts further away from Him and His precepts.
Later, the LORD appeared to Solomon, asking him what he wanted. Solomon said in part, “ And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.  And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”
There is a little hint as to Solomon’s age. He called himself “a little child” (verse 7). In Deuteronomy 1:39, we see God referring to “little ones” and “children.” These individuals were 19 years old and under (Numbers 14:29-33). Thus, Solomon may have been in his late teens when he assumed Israel’s throne. Regardless of his precise age, Solomon admitted to God that he did not have the experience or wisdom needed to lead His people. So, he asked God for wisdom. God granted Solomon unparalleled wisdom. Continuing in 1 Kings chapter 3: “ And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;  Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”
While God indeed blessed Solomon with material blessings too (verse 13), Solomon undoubtedly went against God’s Word. In direct opposition to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 17:16 (which we read earlier), Solomon began to multiply horses to himself (1 Kings 4:26). We can see Solomon, the wisest king in history, beginning to slide further down spiritually.
Continuing in 1 Kings chapter 4: “ And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.  And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.  For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.  And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.  And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.  And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”
So, from Scripture, we learn that wise Solomon spoke 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs (verse 32). People came from afar to Jerusalem to hear Solomon. His wisdom was literally world-renown! In the book of Proverbs, we read in the first verse of chapter 25: “These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” A good portion of Solomon’s 3000 proverbs is evidently found in our Bible book of Proverbs. God was true to His Word. Solomon could now guide God’s people into His truth. Did he?
As the years passed, wise Solomon was corrupted even further, largely by his Egyptian wife. The Bible says he spent seven years building God’s Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:38) but he spent 13 years building his own house (1 Kings 7:1). Verse 8 says, “…Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like unto this porch.” Chapter 9, verse 24, says: “But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.” In 2 Chronicles 8:11, we see that Solomon did not want to defile his father David’s house with this pagan woman living where the Ark of the Covenant had come. Hence, Solomon built that house for his Egyptian wife, that she live outside of the holy city of David.
Approximately 20 to 25 years into Solomon’s reign (cf. 1 Kings 9:10), he began to drift away from JEHOVAH God even more. In direct opposition to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 17:16 (we read it earlier), Solomon began to multiply horses to himself, now horses from Egypt, and he began to accumulate silver as stones, which Moses had also forbidden. Solomon’s Egyptian wife undoubtedly encouraged him to trade with her nation, Egypt, and he did so extensively (see 1 Kings 10:26-29). A very sad aspect of the tale now begins to unfold. King Solomon’s 40-year reign (1 Kings 11:42) is now halfway over, and he is becoming increasingly idolatrous. In fact, his sins are now spiraling out of control.
We read in 1 Kings chapter 11: “ But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:  Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.  And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.  Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.  And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.  And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,  And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.  Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.  Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.  Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
The various women that Solomon got involved with, they were pagan idolaters. They worshipped false gods, idols, not JEHOVAH God, the one true God. Solomon was so emotionally attached to them he did practically anything to please them, even when it meant displeasing his God and the God of his fathers. Verse 3 says that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (servant-wives). With that many heathen women in close relations with him, he was pressured to burn incense and sacrifice to their idols. Imagine worshipping the gods of 1,000 different women! His father David would have been sorely grieved to see his son so far away from the truth. Those wretched, worthless women had taken Solomon and corrupted God’s people! God’s judgment would fall, but for David’s sake, it would not happen in Solomon’s lifetime. Israel had reached her pinnacle in worldwide fame, but now she was going downhill. As chapter 11 continues and concludes, once Solomon died, his kingdom was divided—the 10 northern tribes went to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam and the two southern tribes went to Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Israel would never be the same. Her glorious kingdom was gone.
A little tidbit worth noting. In 2 Samuel 5:13, we read that King David had many concubines and wives. David was not a good example for his son Solomon. Actually, Solomon may have gotten romantically involved with so many women because his father had behaved similarly.
Post-exile, circa 444 B.C., after the Jews in Persia returned to Jerusalem, under Nehemiah’s leadership, some Jews began to intermarry with the pagan Gentiles. Nehemiah commented in Nehemiah 13:23-27: “ In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:  And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.  And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.  Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.  Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?”
“STRANGE” WOMEN IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
There are 10 references to “strange” women in the book of Proverbs. Whether Solomon wrote these verses before or after those women corrupted him is not apparent. He certainly learned his lesson, either way. Remember, the context is not odd women, but rather foreign women, those outside of Israel and her covenants (cf. Ephesians 2:12, “strangers from the covenants of promise”). They are idolatrous women, and to be frank, they used flattery and sexual advances to entice Israel’s men. As the Bible relates, they would play on these men’s emotions and fornication would result. (Sound familiar?) This happened in Numbers chapter 25, which we read earlier. You are encouraged to look at the following verses in their context. Our goal is to simply show you this common idea found in Proverbs:
- Proverbs 2:16: “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;”
- Proverbs 5:3: “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:”
- Proverbs 5:20: “And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”
- Proverbs 6:24: “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.”
- Proverbs 7:5: “That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.”
- Proverbs 20:16: “Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
- Proverbs 22:14 “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.”
- Proverbs 23:27: “For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.”
- Proverbs 23:33: “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”
- Proverbs 27:13: “Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
God warned Israel—particularly her men—to guard against idolaters. While much could be said, suffice it to say that the book of Proverbs will be useful for Israel’s believing remnant during the seven-year Tribulation. The wisdom contained therein will help believing Israel avoid the Antichrist’s false religious system—the same idolatry that Israel failed to guard against going all the way back to Moses’ time!
We will look at two verses from the Revelation. Revelation chapter 2, which will be true during the future 70th week of Daniel: “ But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Do you see how this loops back to Numbers chapter 25? Do you see why God, in the Law of Moses, told Israel intermarriage with heathen men and women would corrupt them with idolatry? This same thing happened in Ezra chapters 9 and 10, although beyond the scope of our discussion here.
One more note about women and the book of Proverbs. Chapter 31 contains the famous “virtuous woman” passage (verses 10-31), quoted by Christian women everywhere. The “virtuous woman” is the woman who is the opposite of the “strange woman.” The “virtuous woman” is the woman filled with sound Bible doctrine just as the “strange woman” is the woman filled with the Devil’s doctrine. Israel is urged to be that virtuous woman, that she may be the spotless wife of JEHOVAH when Jesus Christ returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, to establish His kingdom on the earth through her.
SOLOMON, A SON OF DAVID AND A SON OF ADAM
So, now that we have established background, we can answer the question originally posed. Why did Solomon warn his readers to guard against strange women, when he himself did not? Why did he write about seeking the virtuous woman when he himself did just the opposite? First and foremost, it was to teach Israel a lesson, in history and yet future. God wrote those sins of Solomon in His Book so it would be useful for Israel’s believing remnant in the future. They are to see Solomon’s mistakes and learn from them.
We have to remember that Solomon, although blessed with divine wisdom, was a son of David and a son of Adam. Solomon was still a sinner. All the men whom God used, save the Lord Jesus Christ, they were sinners. Moses was a murderer. Peter was a Christ-denier. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon was an idolater. Samuel and David were poor excuses for fathers. Paul was a murderer and a blasphemer. Thomas was a Bible doubter. God’s power worked in them, and yet they failed repeatedly… sometimes miserably and repeatedly.
As wise Solomon himself said to JEHOVAH God when he dedicated the Temple in 1 Kings chapter 8: “ If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;…” (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:36).
When, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about their idolatry, he commented on Israel’s idol worship during Moses’ leadership. Reading from 1 Corinthians chapter 10: “ Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”
Unfortunately, wise Solomon was not immune from sin. Neither are we, brethren. We have God’s completed Word, the Holy Bible’s 66 books, and yet we are not insulated from sin. We are the Church the Body of Christ, but we can still fall into the same sins the nation Israel did. Satan always uses the same basic tactics to corrupt God’s people and cause them to stumble. Never should we get the idea, “Oh, look at what he or she just did! I would never do such an awful thing!” Take heed, my friend, you will fall from your pedestal of self-righteousness! See also Galatians 6:1-2. The truth is, my friend, we are just as human as the Israelites, as Solomon, as all descendants of Adam. Solomon undoubtedly learned his lesson in dabbling in paganism, but by then it was too late. We Christian men need to be especially cautious, that we not—NOT!—get romantically involved with unsaved women! Period. My Christian sisters, you should not—NOT!—get romantically involved with lost men! Period. We need to learn from Solomon’s mistakes. Avoid giving over your heart to someone who does not have the Lord Jesus Christ in his or her heart. Solomon is the primary proof that such an arrangement is a disaster literally in the making!
In the nine centuries between Solomon’s death and Jesus’ birth, Israel grew weaker politically and spiritually. Almost 3,000 years later, Israel today has yet to recover!! If marriages with lost people caused that much damage to a nation, just think about how it affects a family. This cannot be stressed enough. Again, this cannot be stressed enough. Once more, this cannot be stressed enough. (I would say it 1,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000,000 times if I could. I would say it 1,000,000,000,000 times if I could.) In my life and in the lives of those around me, I have seen just how disastrous and devastating it often is for a Christian to date or marry a lost person. Very rarely will it be a healthy union. Chances are, the Christian will compromise with the lost person rather than the lost person getting saved. We members of the Body of Christ should not—NOT!—get romantically involved with lost people. No exceptions. “Missionary dating or missionary marriage”—trying to convert lost people by using love as leverage—99 percent of the time does not work. Beloved, “marry only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Remember poor King Solomon!
SUPPLEMENTAL: ADDITIONAL DISASTROUS “MIXED” MARRIAGES IN SCRIPTURE
About a century after Solomon died, Jehoram, his great-great-great grandson, married a daughter of pagan King Ahab (2 Chronicles 21:5-6). Jehoram turned out to be a wicked king, following after the sins of Israel (Ahab’s kingdom), including Baal worship (verses 12-13). For sake of brevity, we will not quote those verses here. Please read them in your own study time.
A few centuries after Solomon, King Ahab experienced his own troubles with a pagan idolatrous woman. Ahab married Jezebel, and she corrupted him and Israel the northern kingdom with Baal worship. The northern kingdom never recovered! We read in 1 Kings 16:29-33: “ And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.  And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.  And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.  And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.  And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
And 1 Kings 21:25-26 verifies: “ But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.  And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.”
The last three verses of 1 Kings, found in chapter 22, says Ahab and Jezebel had a son who was just as pagan as they were: “ Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.  And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin:  For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.”
Some three centuries after Solomon’s death, King Josiah of Judah initiated significant reforms to combat the paganism that had gripped his nation for some many decades. Notice, in 2 Kings 23:13-14, who had built the shrines and idols that Josiah destroyed: “ And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth [pagan goddess] the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh [pagan god] the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom [pagan god] the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.  And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.”
Just a few decades after Josiah, God’s wrath fell upon Judah. The Babylonians came in and eventually destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Solomon’s pagan shrines and false religious system stood for nearly 300 years, highly influential in causing the southern kingdom of Judah to lose their Promised Land and fall into Gentile captivity. Why? All because of marriages to unsaved women!