Jump Start # 3248
Nehemiah 13:26 “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin.”
One of the great paradoxes in all the Bible is Solomon. It’s hard to figure him out. As the kingdom transfers from his father, David, to him, he seems so dedicated and focused upon the Lord. What stirring words he speaks as the temple is dedicated. Given the choice by God to have wealth, long life or wisdom, Solomon rightly chose wisdom. Wealth followed. Lots of wealth. The temple, built by Solomon was adorned with gold. In many ways, Solomon was on the path to be as noble, righteous and faithful as David was.
Solomon isn’t the spoiled rich kid who is selfish and indifferent to others. He seems to walk hand in hand with the Lord. But, then something unbelievable happens. He seems to toss it all away. This man of God becomes a man of idols. Solomon marries and marries and marries, not daughters of Israel as the law said he should, but foreigners. Pagans. Idolaters. He not only married foreign women, but he allowed them to influence him, dilute his faith and convert him to idolatry. He followed them.
This incredibly wise man does something really dumb. His first mistake was bringing pagans into the palace. His second mistake was marrying them. This third mistake was allowing them to have their way. His fourth mistake was participating and joining with them in fellowship of error.
And, right here is this grand paradox. Someone so smart that does something so dumb. Biblical history doesn’t tell us if Solomon ever came to his senses and came back fully to the Lord. If Ecclesiastes is his own personal story, then it seems like he does late in life. But what a train wreck he caused. Rather than leading all these wives to the Lord, they led Solomon to the idols. Did he not remember the Temple? Did he not remember his father, David? Did he not remember God’s law? Did he not remember God’s promises to him? If someone that wise can become such a fool, what about us?
There are lessons for us:
First, it wasn’t doctrine that pulled Solomon away. It was trying to please someone at home. Emotions and feelings can be stronger than truth to us. We are not told why Solomon married so many foreign women, but politically, it would ensure peace. It would be hard for a neighboring king to attack Jerusalem, if that king’s daughter was in the palace with Solomon. If that was the reason, on paper it seems good, but in reality it opened the door for disaster. We must not try to out think the Lord. When God stated that he wanted Israel to only marry Israel, God knew what He was talking about. Solomon may have thought an exception would be to keep peace among the nations. He might have believed that he was an exception and he could handle it.
Did not Solomon think about his influence? If the king wasn’t obeying God’s law, why should the servant, or, the soldier? Inconsistencies, double standards are not faith building. They created doubt, suspicion and anger. If the king could, why couldn’t anyone else?
We need to see the parallel to our times. Trying to keep peace at home, the Christian will attend less. He will take his foot off the spiritual accelerator. His giving may drop off. His time spent with other Christians may become more infrequent. The spouse is not a Christian and it’s a lot easier to try to keep them happy than it is to take a stand for the Lord. Some go so far as to compromise where they worship. They sell out their convictions just to keep peace in the family.
Second, we must not allow feelings, emotions, the pressure from others to top what we know is right. Our views on divorce cannot change because a daughter gets a divorce. Our sympathy for our family cannot be the guideline for how we view the Bible. Wearing rose colored glasses gives everything a “rosy” tint to it. We need to remove those glasses and see clearly.
Where were the priests in Solomon’s life? Were they afraid to say anything? Were they so corrupt that they bought into what Solomon was doing?
Third, it is always better to displease others than it is to anger the Lord. We see each other all the time and we may think keeping them happy is the best way to go. It may keep peace, but it’s selling our soul at a cost that we cannot afford.
Our verse today, written a long, long time after Solomon, shows us the displeasure God had with him. The foreign wives caused “even him to sin.” When will we take such lessons to heart. Marrying a Christian doesn’t mean paradise, nor that one will remain true to God. But when we marry a pagan, aren’t we inviting trouble? It’s always easier to go downhill than it is uphill. Caused even him to sin…what a profound statement from Heaven! Convictions to the Lord cannot be sold for peace on earth with family.
To God, let us be true and faithful, even if some in the family do not agree and become unhappy.