1 KINGS 11:1-13
1King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the Israelites, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods”; Solomon clung to these in love. 3Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 5For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not completely follow the LORD, as his father David had done. 7Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.
9Then the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD commanded. 11Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. 12Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13I will not, however, tear away the entire 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.”
It belongs to the world of lustful male fantasy to have lived like Solomon with his unimaginably many wives and concubines. Like all fantasies certain features of real life are missing, like bickering, jealousy, court drama, and certainly an absence of personal intimacy. With so many wives and concubines, what kind of family life did Solomon have? Of course in the world of fantasy, to ask such a question about family life is simply laughable. Fantasies bracket out family life, sickness, the mundane, real relationships with people, and one's own mortality, among other things. Fantasies feed on sensual pleasures, all centered on gratifications of various kinds. The Real World Is Not There.
The Real World, according to Holy Scripture, contains one important feature: God. The real world that Solomon inhabited contained his relationship with YHWH. How Solomon lived with his many wives had a direct impact on his relationship with the Lord. His many wives led -- more accurately, Solomon let himself be led by his foreign wives -- to the worship of foreign gods. There was no greater sin in the eyes of the Lord than to give one's allegiance to idols and demons, which were behind the so-called "gods."
Given all that Solomon received from the Lord (wisdom, favor, power, influence, wealth, and fame), it is an absolute tragedy how Solomon squandered all these gifts and his relationship with God for the sake of pleasing his wives. We must see Solomon as a tragic and failed figure in the Bible, despite the fact that Solomon got to build the Temple of the Lord. If it weren't for the Lord's love for David, Solomon would have faced a far more dramatically worse end as the kingdom would have been torn from under him while he reigned. But because of the Lord's remembrance of David, the kingdom was not ripped apart until a generation after Solomon.
The real world for Solomon became a brutal reality of division, bloodshed, and God's judgment. No fantasy could cover this up nor could it make the harshness of judgment go away. Fantasies sooner or later have to make room Reality. Fantasies have no choice. Fantasies are like fog that dissipates with the rising of the sun.
These words echo what is said in Ephesians 5 (and let's close our devotional with these words from Ephesians):
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine,which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.