Solomon’s Moral Free Fall
1 Kings 11:4 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, as was the heart of his father David.
The author of 1 Kings vividly portrays the immense wealth, wisdom, and power of Solomon in chapter 10. The splendor of his kingdom was so impressive that the visiting Queen of Sheba, herself no pauper, was overwhelmed. He achieved worldwide prominence, distinguishing himself as the greatest of the kings of the earth (1 Kings 10:23). One can only imagine the beauty of the Lord’s temple and Solomon’s palace. Under the reign of Solomon, Israel reached the pinnacle of its glory as a nation.
However, the perceptive reader senses that underneath all of this magnificence, prosperity, and wonder lay a potentially deadly and deep-seated condition of spiritual neglect. God had materially blessed Solomon more abundantly than any other man in history, but that blessing also demanded the solemn responsibility of humble stewardship. Many years earlier, Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) instructed the Israelites concerning their future king that he was to abide by a number of important requirements. He was supposed to make his own hand-written copy of the law of God to read and reflect upon throughout his monarchy. He was to avoid accumulating large amounts of wealth. He was not to go down to Egypt to acquire horses. He was not to multiply wives for himself. Although we do not know whether he wrote down his own copy of the Law, we do know that he flagrantly violated these other commands. It should therefore be no surprise when we come to 1 Kings 11:2-8 that Solomon’s many wives turned his heart away from the Lord to such a dreadful extent that he becomes an idolater. Rather than being the Lord’s humble servant, he turns into a Near-Eastern despot.
Solomon’s great beginning in 1 Kings 3:3 degenerated into a tragic ending. He had forgotten the ultimate source of all his blessings, turned from the Lord, and began to love the blessings themselves. As a result, Solomon nearly lost the entire kingdom but for the sake of the Lord’s commitment to David. Solomon goes into the record books as one whose heart for God was compromised in the latter years of his life.
As with Solomon, times of prosperity test the loyalty of God’s people in many subtle ways. When things are going well, it is easy to forget the Lord and rely upon one’s resources to get by. Love for the Lord is substituted for love of the things He bestows upon us. One of the best antidotes against the danger of self-sufficiency is to remember that our entire lives are a stewardship. Ultimately, we own nothing. Everything we do possess comes from God’s gracious hand. We must be ever so careful to attribute all of our successes and accomplishments to the Lord, Who gives us the abilities in the first place. Again, Moses offers wise counsel, “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish” (Deuteronomy 8:18-19).