We have already dwelt at some length on the sad failure of David that resulted in Bathsheba becoming his wife. We saw that the eldest child of Bathsheba died as an infant. Solomon was this babe’s younger brother. His name means “Peaceable”, “and the Lord loved him.” (II Samuel 12:24-25.) And because the Lord loved him, he had a second name, Jedidiah meaning “beloved of the Lord.”
You know the story too well for me to have any need to tell you. You know how bright the prospects were in the beginning. You remember how he asked for wisdom when God gave him the amazing offer to choose what he would have. Our Lord Himself could speak of “Solomon and all his glory.” Perhaps there has never been anyone with so bright an outlook in his early years as Solomon.
And yet, from the early years of his reign there was that which indicated that all was not right. It was in the very beginning of his reign that Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David. (1 Kings 3:1). Solomon had no business taking a wide from Egypt. She was almost surely an idolatress, and it was not so long before Solomon realized that this woman was not fit for the “holy hill of Zion”, and so we read: “And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her; for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, where unto the ark of the Lord hath come.” Solomon must have known that a woman who was not fit to dwell in the city of David, was no fit woman to be his wife. In the days of Ezra, the Jews were compelled to put away the heathen wives they had taken. We see the grace of God shown forth in this day of grace in 1 Corinthians 7:14, where we find that the believing wife sanctifies the unbelieving husband; and the believing husband sanctifies the unbelieving wife. And so our children are holy, even though only one parent be a believer. But we need to remember that this gives us no warrant for marrying an unbeliever. “Only in the Lord” is the clear word of God. (1 Corinthians 7:39.)
As we are speaking of marriage, may I draw your attention to a matter that we passed over in the early pages of these meditations. I have been struck lately with the earnest care that Abraham gave to his son’s marriage. How determined he was the Isaac should not marry any woman from the nations around! Nor was Isaac to turn back to those lands from whence his father had come. How lightly Isaac’s sons forgot their grandfather’s earnestness in these matters, and it was apparently no concern to Isaac that Esau took wives from the nations about, and that Jacob should return to the land which his father had forbidden him. This was perhaps a growth in liberty, but not a growth in grace or holiness.
Your little ones may be too young at present for you to be thinking of marriage, but you will be amazed how quickly the years fly by, those precious years when you have you children with you; and before you realize it, this question, one of the most important of their lives, will be upon you. May God help you, and give you wisdom and faithfulness to Him in this most difficult matter.
But we must return to Solomon. It would seem that he did not apply the wisdom that God had given him, to his own walk. And how often are we better able to tell someone else how to walk aright, than to follow the right path for ourselves. Solomon could write: “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman; that they may keep thee from the strange woman.” (Proverbs 7:4-5.) “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods; Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father, then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” (1 Kings 11:1-8).
The brightness of the early prospect only makes the tragedy of the awful fall seem darker. We noticed, when considering David’s history that God had specially commanded the king whom He should choose, not to multiply wives. (Deuteronomy 17:15,17). We saw that the terrible trials and anguish through which David walked, was caused by failing to obey this clear command. Solomon had this most solemn lesson before him, as well as this same command of God, but he deliberately defied God’s command, and walked in open disobedience.
This disobedience cost his son Rehoboam ten, out of the twelve, tribes of Israel. And from that day to this, the bitter fruits of Solomon’s disobedience are still in evidence, as we hear men guess as to where those ten tribes are at the present day. None but God Himself can answer this question, but in spite of Solomon’s sin, and all man’s failure, we know the day is coming when God Himself will find those ten tribes, and bring them back once more to the land they have so long lost. See, for example, Ezekiel 37:15-28 and Jeremiah 16:16. And so, even amidst the sorrows of Solomon’s failure, we find the Grace of God overleaping the sin of man, and bringing in restoration at last. But what a long night of darkness have those ten tribes experienced; and we may do well to remember that it was all brought about through the disobedience of the wisest of men, a man who had, perhaps, the highest hopes of any man who ever lived, as in regards to the things of this earth.