Proverbs 31 is attributed to king Lemuel’s mother. The name translated Lemuel means “belonging to God” and is believed to be a symbolic name of Solomon (3927). If so, then the prophecy came from Bath-sheba, the woman king David had an affair with. Proverbs 31 deals with the role of women in Solomon’s life. In verses 2 – 3, Solomon’s mother warns him against having a large harem and sexual immorality. “What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows. Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” Repetition of the what question three times indicates a tone of rebuke and concern for Solomon’s awareness of his problem. Today we might say something like, What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?
Solomon’s approach to marriage was to treat it like a business transaction. Many of his wives were acquired by forming alliances with neighboring nations. In order to maintain peace, Solomon lived a double life. Three times a year, Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built for the LORD (1 Kings 9:25), but he also “went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians” (1 Kings 11:5) and built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab (1 Kings 11:7). Solomon’s compromise resulted in the LORD taking away the majority of the kingdom from David’s descendants (1 Kings 11:11-13).
The phrase that Solomon’s mother used, “give not thy strength unto women” (Proverbs 31:3) implies that Solomon’s wives were given power or control over the nation of Israel. In some way, they were influencing the course of Israel’s history. From an extreme perspective, Solomon’s foreign wives erased many of king David’s accomplishments. David and his army fought many years to gain control over Israel’s enemies. Solomon’s decision to worship his foreign wives’ gods made it seem as if his strength was coming from multiple sources and God was no longer calling the shots.