Solomon’s Foolish Compromises
1 Kings 11
In answering a question in Bible class as to the reason Solomon turned away from God, a little girl explained, “because he had 700 wives and 300 porcupines.” Close enough. But, he had three hundred concubines which are secondary wives. Can you imagine for a moment having a thousand birthdays and anniversaries to remember, a thousand names to keep straight, a thousand set of in-laws to deal with on the holidays, standing in line for the bathroom every morning behind a thousand wives? Not to mention the difficulty involved in keeping up with all those “honey-do” lists and their religious preferences. Most of us have a hard time keeping one woman happy. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3).
Solomon was amazing, the smartest man in the world, the richest man in the world, the most powerful man in the world, but he made some foolish compromises. Despite the fact “the wisdom of Solomon” is proverbial to this day. He “was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” (1 Kings 10:23). He was a man who truly had it all and then he began to fall.
Solomon Compromised By Having Many Wives
Solomon’s first wife came to him in the alliance he made with the king of Egypt (1 Kings 3:1). It’s safer to have a father-in-law in the kingdom next door who is less likely to attack because his daughter is your queen. He starts out with one wife and may have added others for political reasons. However, it is not just a matter of Solomon being a sex addict but wanting to be like the kings of the nations. Nonetheless, the Law said the king should not “take may wives” (Deut. 17:17).
No matter what the reason, God created marriage to be a monogamous relationship. He has never encouraged or condoned polygamy. From the very beginning, marriage was intended to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime.
Solomon Compromised By Having Pagan Wives
Not only were many wives forbidden, but pagan wives were also against the will of God for any Israelite (Deut. 7:3-4). The countries where many of these women came from had a past history of hostility against Israel. Soon Solomon built altars to their foreign gods and began worshiping those gods himself. Attempting to please his wives, he rejected the true God who is not to be worshipped with any other god or idol. His was a misplaced love for evil companions. Instead of lifting these women up from paganism to worship the true God, Solomon allowed himself to be make compromises to please the pagans.
Solomon Compromised True Worship
First, Solomon marries the worshipers of pagan idols, next he tolerates the worship, builds places of worship for false gods, and then he openly joins them. Could this possibly be the same Solomon who built the great house for God in Jerusalem? God alone is to be worshiped (Matt 4:10). The Ten Commandments were clear: “No other gods” (Ex. 20:3). God is a jealous God. He hates the foolishness of idols. My granddaughters will hold their dolls, talk to them, rock them, feed them, but they know they are not real. Pagans make their idols, feed them, carry them, and believe they are real. Idolatry is contagious. Solomon’s idolatry led to idolatry among the people.
Solomon Compromised the Word of God
Solomon trusted his wisdom more than he trusted God’s law He had many wives and supported and then participated in idolatry. He had rejected the warnings God gave to kings in His Law. “The king shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses…nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself…” (Deut. 17:16f; 1 Ki. 10:26-29). God had appeared to him twice and spoken His Word directly to Solomon. These words were rejected.
Solomon Condemned for His Foolish Compromises
Solomon was without excuse for his disobedience. God appeared to him twice. During each vision God warns him that the promises made are contingent upon his continued obedience. Solomon further had the example of his father David he should have followed. He had prayed for wisdom from God to lead the people and God had granted his request by giving him great wisdom as well as great wealth.
The God Solomon built a house and glorified in the beginning is not angry with him and will bring upon him the promised penalty for his sins. Solomon would lose the great kingdom he and his father had built. Only one tribe, Judah, would remain with Solomon’s son. After all, God had chosen David’s family to continue on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12,13,16) and God had picked Jerusalem as the special place of his presence. The blessings of David’s righteous heart fall on Solomon, and the consequences of Solomon’s evil heart fall on Rehoboam.
The peaceful, golden years of Solomon’s reign will, in the end, suffer from conflict with enemies. God will allow Hadad the Edomite and Rezon to become bitter enemies of Solomon throughout the remainder of his reign (11:14,23-24). Jeroboam would betray Solomon and eventual be given the ten tribes of Israel.
The Fall of Solomon
The downfall of Solomon began back at the beginning of his reign. He seemed to do everything right. He followed the heart of his father David. He prayed for wisdom. He built a Temple and prayed for the people. He was just and wise in leading God’s people. But a good start does not always equal an excellent finish. It is sad to see a young man squander the blessings and opportunities given to him in his youth. It is a sadder thing to see a wise man who chose wisely to throw away all those blessings in his old age. He was given wisdom, but did not use it to keep his kingdom. He was not wise enough to avoid sin. How could such a wise man be so foolish? He was blessed with a godly father and good heart but turned his heart away. He needed to heed his own advice: “keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). He was given riches, but misused them from false gods and pagan wives. He was very rich but still coveted more and more and taxed the kingdom away. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
“The queen of the South …came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). Christ is greater than Solomon. Solomon was a son of David. Christ is the Son of David. Solomon was very wise, but Christ is Wisdom. Solomon built a Temple, but Christ is the true Temple as well as High Priest and Sacrifice. Solomon was by name “the peaceful”, but Christ is the Prince of Peace. Solomon had a 1000 wives, Christ one bride – the church. Solomon reigned for forty years, but Christ reigns forever.
– Daniel R. Vess