Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 11:1-13
I love my wife with all my heart. We are coming up on 20 years of knowing each other, 20 years since we were engaged and soon it will be our 20th anniversary. During those past 20 years God gave us two wonderful children and a happy home, even on two different continents. All happy and rosy – right?
No, of course not. My wife can be quite tiring at times. At times there is a bit of stress in our relationship. However, I am more than positive that she would say that I can be more than “quite tiring at times”. As a matter of fact she could even add annoying, exasperating, irritating, aggravating, burdensome and then some more words in Spanish. Imagine that one relationship, a relationship of a husband and wife multiplied 700 times. Solomon, for as wise as he was, decided it was a good idea to have 700 wives and 300 concubines.
I married a foreign wife and that adds a certain pressure on a marriage that marrying within your own culture doesn’t. We often have disagreements that are simply based on misinterpretations of a word from English to Spanish or Spanish to English. At other times we have “discussions” about cultural differences and subtleties of misunderstood actions. Once when we were still newlyweds we went on a vacation with her whole family, there were 21 of us in 5 or 6 rooms of a hotel. While my wife and I were relaxing in our hotel room someone knocked at the door. In my American way, but in Spanish I said “Who is it?” . What my wife expected for me to say, according to her customs and family tradition was “Come in.” I soon was told that I was inconsiderate of the family and that now no one would come to visit our room. A “discussion” ensued. Now imagine Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines. Today we read that Solomon took many foreign wives…
1 Kings 11:1 – 3a (NLT)
1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines.
How Solomon in all his wisdom decided that it might be a good idea to marry 700 women, that they should come from former enemies of Israel and that it was OK that the wives worshipped other gods is beyond my ability to comprehend. This is especially confusing to me taking into account what we read in Proverbs and Song of Songs this week (see my earlier posts Solomon had 700 wives, I once found a treasure and Should we read Song of Solomon?),
Maybe he thought it was necessary to bring peace and stability to the region. Maybe he had a huge ego and needed all of these women of royal birth to build himself up. Either way, Solomon directly disobeyed clear instruction from the Lord on this topic. The Lord did not want foreign wives pulling the men away from their worship of Him as the One and Only True God. That is still a command for men and women today, do nor marry a man or woman who will pull you away from worshipping the One and Only True God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NIV)
14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
17“Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
18“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
What happens when you become unequally yoked through a marriage to a man or woman that does not know the One and Only True God?
1 Kings 11:3b – 9 (NLT)
And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.
4 In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.
7 On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.
9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
As we read in the rest of 1 Kings 11 and what we will read in the coming days – Solomon’s disobedience in this area of his life ending up costing him the kingdom. It’s consequences extended for generations and forever marred the kingdom of David. Solomon’s failure to obey God in the area of marriage was a disaster.
For those of you out there who are not yet married – please take this lesson of Solomon’s to heart. Learn from his mistake and make sure you are “equally yoked” with your boyfriend or girlfriend before you become too emotionally involved that you can not turn away and obey the Lord.
For those of you who are married, but do not share the same love of the One and Only True God – it is a bit more complicated and nearly impossible to cover in a post. Just know that God loves you and that He desires the best for you. He is Sovereign.
For those of us who are married, even if to a foreign partner, who know that your husband or wife shares the same love for the One and Only True God – then praise the Lord, thank him for his goodness, kindness and blessings on your marriage.