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The story of Solomon and the lessons we can learn from his life are still relevant for us today. His many foreign wives eventually influenced him to turn away from God, resulting in Solomon and ultimately the whole nation suffering for his backsliding attitude.
Shortly after Solomon ascended to the throne, he married the daughter of the ruler of Egypt (1 Kings 3:1). Although this was probably viewed as a politically astute move, this act foreshadowed the greatest singular weakness of the otherwise wise king. Foreigners, steeped in their idolatrous ways, influenced Solomon and the nation to depart from God’s ways.
Much said about Solomon in the Bible is good (1 Kings 3:3). God was pleased with the new king's attitude at the beginning of his reign, appearing to him in a dream and asking : "What shall I give you?" ( verse 5). Solomon's answer showed an exemplary attitude and a sincere devotion of God: "... give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" (verse 9).
God answered Solomon by more than granting his request: "Because you…have not asked long life for yourself, nor…riches…nor…the life of your enemies, but have asked …to discern justice, …I have given you a wise and understanding heart…And I have also given…both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days" (1 Kings 3:11-13). God concluded this wonderful promise to Solomon by emphasizing that He also required Solomon's resolute obedience. "So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days" (1 Kings 3:14).
Solomon became a great king and "... was wiser than all men…And men of all nations…came to hear the wisdom of Solomon" (1 Kings 4:31-34). The queen of Sheba also came to Jerusalem to witness Solomon’s wisdom, declaring, "Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard" (1 Kings 10:7).
For many years, Solomon fulfilled his part of the covenant and was greatly blessed. He even built the temple of God and had the priests bring the ark of God (1 Kings 8:1-11) and, at the dedication of the temple God reiterated the Davidic covenant to Solomon (1 Kings 9:1-28) as a reminder to remain faithful to His laws. Many biblical scholars believe Solomon may also have been the author of the book of Ecclesiastes.
God had warned Israel not to intermarry with foreigners, for "surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods" (1 Kings 11:2), but Solomon's weakness for women was his downfall. Earlier Solomon had disregarded God's instruction when he had married the Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter, and over the years He loved many foreign women, having 700 wives and 300 concubines, with the result that: "... his wives turned his heart after other gods… Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David…Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab…and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods" (1 Kings 11:4-8). God became angry with Solomon because of his sins and declared He would tear the kingdom away from Solomon and give it to one of his servants (verse 11).
Ultimately Solomon's sins led to his kingdom being divided into the two separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kings 11:26-40) because He forgot God's laws, especially those that dealt with marriage and the influence foreign wives would have on him.
The Good New Magazine (Mar-Apr, 1998)