Summary: The fall of Solomon shows us the danger of small compromises in our own lives
How it all went wrong
It had all started so well. The young king was a good king. After the death of his father the Lord had appeared to him and told him that he could have anything he wanted. He did not choose wealth, or fame, or power, or military success, instead he choose wisdom, wisdom to rule his people, God’s people. God granted him this and his name became a byword for wisdom and understanding, ‘the wisdom of Solomon’ is proverbial to this day. Rulers from all over the Mediterranean world were drawn to his court because of his legendary wisdom. It was going so well. No problems could be seen.
He soon set himself to the task of building the Lord’s temple. The Lord had given him the task of building his worship house, the house of prayer for all nations. The visual representation of God on earth. All the best materials were given to building a house to glorify the name of the Lord. Nothing was held back. A magnificent structure arose, reminding everyone who saw it of the great God who had rescued his people from Egypt and had chosen the people of Israel to be his nation, to bring his light into the world. What wonderful days. What a great king.
The Lord then appeared to him again with the wonderful promise that if his faithfulness and obedience continued, his family would be kings forever. That Israel would be securely established for eternity. He was set to be the greatest king in Israel’s history.
He asked for wisdom. God gave him this, but he also gave him what he did not ask for. He gave him wealth, power, fame. He became so rich that to him silver was just an ordinary metal, not precious at all. He had it all. Everything a man could want, and no worries. He had huge responsibilities of ruling, but his wisdom took away the stress of decision-making. His people were contented and adored him. A truly wonderful king.
The Lord had appeared to him twice, that is twice more than he did to his great father, David. David had had to be content with the Lord speaking to him through prophecy. Solomon had actually seen his glory twice. He was going to be it, the greatest king the world had ever, or would ever, see.
He had so many strengths and gifts. He was a great poet, philosopher, biologist, botanist, ruler. All this in just one man.
But he had one weakness. One little weakness in the midst of all these strengths. But it was to be his undoing.
It started small, like many disasters. He married an Egyptian princess, that was OK, she gave up her idols and false gods, and worshiped the true God, the God of Israel. But then he decided that he wanted more than one wife. So he took a second wife. Then he decided that he wanted someone else, so he took a third. Then he wanted a harem, like the kings of the surrounding nations.
He started to make alliances with other kings, and married their daughters, he took concubines from other nations, forgetting that Israel was God’s special people, set apart to worship him alone. Some of these women worshipped the Lord, but others stuck to their own religions and their idols. The king of Israel should not have allowed this. He had no right to allow the Promised Land to be polluted by false worship. But he did not want to upset his wives, so he turned a blind eye to it. But one compromise led to another. He then allowed them to worship openly. Why make his wives hide away what they were doing? Surely it was better to be open? The next compromise was to facilitate their worship. For them to be really happy they had to be able to sacrifice, they needed priests and ceremonial robes, he was rich, he could afford it, after all, they were openly worshipping. Then he built them temples and idols. It was not as if he would worship them himself or make anybody else. Next he started to take part in their rites and rituals. What did it matter? He was still sacrificing to the Lord! Next he was worshipping alongside them. What did it matter? All religions were basically the same, weren’t they?
But the Lord had commanded his people:-
3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.