When Everything Went Wrong
Four words can sum up King Solomon’s life. Two of them in particular led to his downfall.
When people think of King Solomon, they usually recall his great wisdom and the magnificent Jewish Temple he built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Under Solomon’s leadership, ancient Israel became the greatest kingdom on Earth (1 Ki. 10:23–24).
In fact, what the queen of Sheba saw and heard of Solomon left her breathless: “I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You exceed the fame of which I heard,” she told him (2 Chr. 9:6; cf. 1 Ki. 10:7).
However, as easy as it is to apply the word wisdom to Solomon’s life, three other words also apply: wealth, women, and wickedness. The last two in particular led to Solomon’s downfall.
WISDOM AND WEALTH
Early in Solomon’s reign, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked the young king, “What shall I give you?” (1 Ki. 3:5).
Instead of requesting great wealth, as many men would have done, Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge God’s people and wisdom to discern between good and evil (v. 9). Solomon’s desire pleased God so much He not only granted him wisdom but also showered him with riches, telling him, “There has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you” (v. 12).
Solomon was so rich that “all [his] drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon” (10:21).
But Solomon was not to rely on his wealth. One of God’s instructions to Israel’s kings was not to amass horses, wives, silver, or gold (Dt. 17:16–17). In other words, they were not to depend on wealth or political alliances with surrounding heathen nations and military powers. Instead, they were to look solely to the Lord for protection, guidance, and direction.
The Law also stated the king was to “write for himself a copy of this law in a book. . . . He shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes” (vv. 18–19).
Apparently, Solomon did not keep this command because he did many things the Law warned against; and his disobedience led to his undoing.
WOMEN AND WICKEDNESS
Early in his reign, Solomon sowed the seeds of disobedience by marrying a foreign wife, something forbidden to the kings of Israel: “Now Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter; then he brought her to the City of David until he had finished building his own house, and the house of the LORD” (1 Ki. 3:1).
This would only be the beginning. Solomon married Hittite women and women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Sidon (Phoenicia). Scripture records that Solomon clung to them in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. In time, they turned Solomon’s heart away from God (11:1–4).
Many of these marriages were politically motivated to establish diplomatic agreements with city-states, tribal chieftains, and kingdoms throughout the Middle East. Solomon no doubt considered these marriages beneficial to his economy and Israel’s security. But in reality, they were the opposite. They drew him into idolatry, provoking God’s anger and therefore undermining Israel’s security.
Solomon forsook the Lord and built altars to Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians; Milcom, the god of the Ammonites; and Chemosh, the deity of the Moabites (vv. 5–8).
Ashtoreth, the goddess of love or fertility, was connected to centers of prostitution. Milcom (also spelled Molech or Malcam, v. 5) and Chemosh (believed to mean “destroyer,” v. 7) were the gods of King Mesha of Moab. King Mesha offered his eldest son as a human sacrifice to appease Chemosh’s anger (2 Ki. 3:27).
Solomon’s women brought down his kingdom. Because he allowed them to bring their family gods, idols, priests, and practices into Israel, he polluted the land and led the nation into a spiritual decline that incurred God’s judgment.
God had equipped Solomon to lead Israel with wisdom, but the king failed to use the gift wisely. He did not practice the God-given principles he advocated for others in the book of Proverbs.
Though Solomon’s father, King David, also sinned, David never forsook the Lord. His heart remained devoted to God to the day he died. Yet Solomon broke the very first of the Ten Commandments:
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image; . . . 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 upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Ex. 20:3–6).
After years of bestowing His favor and blessing on Solomon and his reign, God’s patience came to an end: “Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant’” (1 Ki. 11:11).
God did not divide the kingdom during Solomon’s lifetime for the sake of David and Jerusalem. “Nevertheless,” He said, “ . . . I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (vv. 12–13; cf. 2 Sam. 7:15–17).
After Solomon’s death, the united kingdom vanished. God severed the 10 northern tribes early in the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. But He let the tribe of Judah and the smallest tribe, Benjamin, remain under Davidic rule as the southern kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital.
Wisdom, wealth, women, and wickedness sum up Solomon’s life. His story should be a wakeup call to every nation in the world today, especially the United States of America. America has a unique history, having been blessed with immense prosperity, religious freedom, and opportunities the likes of which few nations have enjoyed.
But like other countries around the world, America is forsaking the Lord. We need to pray for a return to God before the nation faces the same fate as Solomon and Israel.
4 thoughts on “When Everything Went Wrong”
I’m with you on this one Mr. Levy.
I found your article about Solomon enlightening in a way I have not experienced before. Please continue your valuable work. God bless you.
You’re absolutely right that during that time many marriages were politically motivated in order to bring peace between warring kingdoms. I’ve read that Cleopatra, who was Macedonian, was married to one of Alexander’s Greek generals. Daniel 11 refers to such a one:
“And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times…”
How do I get the full manuscript sermons?