One of the most important decisions a person will make in life is the choice of their spouse. According to the One who designed marriage, marriage is to be a lifelong commitment. The Bible is clear, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Therefore, choosing a spouse is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, we live during a time when the idea of marriage has fallen on hard times. Marriage has been redefined by our culture. Almost any combination of people can now be considered a legitimate marriage. Further, fewer people now view marriage as a lifelong commitment. No fault divorce (amongst other things) has led couples to view their commitment as optional.
Our text is found in Proverbs 31 and King Lemuel is recalling the words and wisdom of his mother. We do not know who he was, but his mother wanted her son to have a spouse that truly honored God. As he remembers her words, she begins her instruction with a warning, “My son … do not give your strength to woman, nor your ways to that which destroys kings” (Proverbs 31:1-3).
We do not know their relationship with King Solomon, but any student of scripture knows that Solomon, though wise, was also led astray by women. He had seven-hundred wives and three-hundred concubines. Undoubtably, many of these relationships were made to forge political alliances. However, 1 Kings 15 tells us the sad tale these relationships had on Solomon’s relationship with God: “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God … For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD…” (1 Kings 15:4-6).
Perhaps Lemuel’s mother knew this history and sought to warn him from falling into the same trap. While the outward beauty of a woman can entice a man, she wanted her son to be moved by another type of beauty. Writing to the women in the church Peter said, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Lemuel’s mother wanted her son to find such a woman. The chapter is essentially a long list of qualities she hopes her son will seek after when choosing a spouse. She carefully crafts the portrait of a faithful, industrious, hardworking, loyal, wife. The greatest quality she is in possession of, however, is her relationship with God: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
Lemuel’s mother wanted her son to be blessed. Unlike King Solomon, she knew such blessings follow a spouse who loves, fears, and honor’s God.
And like Solomon, today, a person may “fall in love” for all the wrong reasons. But for one to find true happiness, joy, and fulfillment in their marriage, they must look for the hidden beauty of the heart, where love for God is found. Such a beauty brings not only happiness but encourages and nurtures faithfulness to God as well.
Solomon’s lust broke the kingdom, but a marriage forged in faith reaps eternal rewards.