The Fall of a Wise Man

by Roby Ellis          SPANISH/ESPAÑOL

In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?” (Nehemiah 13:23-27).

Solomon’s reign had a most auspicious beginning. In the first place, he was named successor to the throne by David himself, and he had for his counselors some of the greatest men that had ever served his father. The Lord had endued him with wisdom and also with great prosperity. The greatest thing that could ever be said about any man was put on permanent record for generations to read about this monarch: “Solomon loved the Lord” (1 Kings 3:3). His love for the Lord prompted him to build the temple that his father had purposed to build when he brought the ark to Jerusalem. Not only did he build this house, but he lavished it with all manner of costly ornaments. Then, when he had finished it, he bowed in the presence of the people and asked the Lord to bless them and the temple with His magnificent presence.

As long as Solomon walked in the ways of his father, Israel prospered. Rulers came from around the globe to hear the wisdom of Solomon and to see his wealth. Somewhere along the way, however, Solomon lost his way. Whereas Solomon had once “loved the Lord,” we read later that he “loved many foreign women” instead (1 Kings 11:1). God had commanded Israel not to marry strangers (Deuteronomy 7:3), and he had ordered her kings not to have multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). Perhaps thinking himself too great to fall, Solomon disobeyed the commandments of God, and—just as God had predicted (Deuteronomy 17:17)—“his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:3). Because of Solomon’s infidelity to God, the kingdom was taken away from him in the days of his foolish son Rehoboam. This story should serve as a warning to us. Solomon himself said, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Paul put it this way: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

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