Solomon warns all his sons against the sin of adultery. “Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (verse 18b). But this applies to more than physical adultery.
I find it curious how the sin of adultery is characterized as the woman enticing the man. I’m MORE than certain it happens both ways. But biblical laws focus on the woman and her role in the problem. This even goes for rape. If a woman is raped in the city it is assumed that it is her fault because “she didn’t cry out” but if she is raped in the country it is the man’s fault because “no one would have heard her cry out”. In our society, crying out doesn’t guarantee rescue. Too many people turn a deaf ear and “don’t want to get involved” when someone cries for help. In biblical law a woman who is not a virgin is not eligible for a “bride price” when being married. No one questions if the man is a virgin.
As you can probably tell, I take issue with these standards but that was then and this is now. God had His reasons for how He set up the law. It was appropriate for the time, and I’m SO GLAD we live in the age of grace instead of still being under the Law.
In the proverbs that we have read previous to this one, we see Solomon addressing his “son.” We are not told which ‘son’ this is and I’m certain there were MANY with the number of wives and concubines he had. But today he specifically says “sons.” This is a lesson for ALL of his sons.
I wonder if because of his own history. We don’t see Solomon taking another’s wife but he was born of a woman who was not David’s own in the beginning. We don’t really know who tempted who in the story of David and Bathsheba. Was she purposefully on her roof trying to attract attention or was it an innocent act? Did David use his position as king to force her into his bed? He certainly used his position to make her a widow who was available for marriage. She was no longer an adulterous when Solomon was born; she was David’s wife. But I have no doubt that tongues still wagged regarding this relationship.
Solomon had woman trouble of his own though. He had WAY too many wives and he let them do as they pleased. He used marriage to form alliances with other nations. He was led into idol worship by his wives as they never left their religions behind. Solomon even constructed temples for them to practice their religions in! Did he do it just to keep them happy or was he interested in seeing what other gods had to offer?
How much better would his life have been if he had listened to God’s instructions regarding kings? I thought it wise to include all the Lord said to Israel about such matters.
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by[c] the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
Solomon missed the mark on several of these regulations but we are focusing on one area today, or are we? Did you notice what having many wives led to? God said it would lead to chasing after other gods. THAT is adultery against the Lord. He likens Israel chasing after other gods to them “playing the harlot” in several places. Israel is the adulterous wife in this case. She is the one running after other ‘men’ who are not her ‘husband’. THAT sin is what brought Israel low. The results of her actions are exactly what Solomon is warning his sons against.
“Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your hears to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline and my heart despised reproof!’” (verses 8-12).
To me, this speaks of the captivity that Israel endured because of her ‘adultery’ as a people. And it began again with Solomon and the wives he chose over the Lord. Saul was the only king who didn’t have many wives. We only know of one. And we know David had at least one too many.
God is a jealous God and He will NOT share His bride. But He can redeem what was broken. Solomon was God’s chosen descendant for David. Even though Bathsheba was an ‘adulterous woman’ God used her in the line of His Son. He even used Tamar, who had sexual relations with her father in law in order to conceive children, and Rahab, who was a prostitute in Jerusalem. God can redeem ANY life, WHEN we surrender to Him and stop chasing after other gods.
Put aside ALL other gods. Do not be the adulterous woman who chases after ‘other husbands’ and return to your True Husband; the Lord. He can restore what was broken and you can walk with Him once again in purity. Not “you” but “we” can have all restored.
I praise You Father for Your loving kindness to me. You have restored me when I wandered and went looking for ‘other options’ in life. I never chased after established gods but I let things in my life take Your place instead. THANK YOU that You called me back to Yourself and restored me. THANK YOU that I was not destroyed but forgiven and helped to start a new.
Help me clearly see the danger in the paths I stand before. Help me choose Your path all the time. I don’t want to find myself in trouble chasing after the wrong things again Father. I choose YOU FOREVER!