ESV - 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.
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Although Solomon (unlike his father David) was never described as "a man after My [God's] own heart" (as God had referred to David), Solomon started his reign following the death of his father with great promise and potential. When God appeared to Solomon in a dream (1 Kings 3:5), and said to him, "Ask what I shall give you," Solomon pleased God by asking not for a long life for himself, or for riches, or for the death of his enemies, but for wisdom. He showed a proper sense of humility before God by calling himself a "little child" who needed God's help in governing Israel in a manner that would be pleasing to God, and that would benefit his subjects, in the way that David had. God responded by telling Solomon that He would give him such great wisdom that there would be never be another king who would be wiser. And God said that He would also give Solomon the things for which he had not asked -- riches and power. He would also give Solomon a long life, if Solomon remained devoted to God as David had been. The subsequent narrative of Solomon's reign in 1 Kings gives examples of his wisdom. Jesus Himself spoke favorably of Solomon's wisdom in the gospels (Matthew 12:42, for example). And Solomon also amassed great wealth and power. However, as Solomon's control over nations outside of Israel increased, so also did the number of non-Jewish women whom Solomon took as wives (1 Kings 11). These women worshiped the false gods or idols of their own lands. In his efforts to please his wives (and there were many of them to please, since the Bible says that Solomon had 700 wives who had been of royal birth in their own lands, and also 300 concubines), Solomon built altars and shrines to these foreign gods. Solomon also apparently did not repent of these actions (as David had of his sin with Bathsheba), even when God confronted Solomon about them (1 Kings 11:11-13). It was this unrepentant spirit, and the judgment that God carried out against Solomon because of his sin, that started Israel down the path of becoming a divided kingdom, and eventually being either taken captive or driven into exile by other nations. There is also no subsequent record in the Old Testament of God taking or not taking actions "for Solomon's sake", in the same way as the multiple references that the Bible contains to God performing actions "for David's sake" (even after David had died), and despite David's sin (because David had repented of his sin when confronted about it, and he had accepted the consequences that God had imposed upon him because of it). Thus (in my opinion), while Solomon's reign itself may have been characterized by wisdom, wealth, and power, the legacy that he left to Israel was not a good or beneficial one. In that sense, he was not a "good" king.
Kings were graded by whether they led the kingdom close to God or away from Him. There were the bad kings who led the nation into idolatry. Then there were the good kings who did right but not with a totally loyal heart. Finally, there were good kings who measured up to the standard of David. Even though David sinned with Bathsheba, repented and confessed his sin, Psalm 51, he was very loyal to God. Only four kings measured up to David’s standard, Asa (I Kings 15:11), Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 17:3), Hezekiah (II Chronicles 29:2), and Josiah (II Chronicles 34:2). Some of these failed when tested in some area in their life, but that did not affect their overall assessment. When Solomon, the son of David, became king of Israel, he started out well. He received wisdom from God and was wise. God appeared to him twice, I Kings 3:5, 9:2. He was close to God doing His will and worshiping Him. At some point, Solomon sinned. As a ruler of many nations, he could not rule his own heart, becoming a slave to the wives who turned his heart away to other gods, I Kings 11:4-10. Because of this God said he would divide the kingdom, and He raised adversaries against Solomon who were Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam, I Kings 11:9-40. Because of his sin, Solomon was not as loyal to God as David, I Kings 11:4, 6, 33. He was not up to the standard of David, but yet he was overall a good king. There are indications that Solomon may have repented. When he died, he was buried in the City of David, and although not specified, likely in the tomb of his father, I Kings 11:43, II Chronicles 9:31. Two later kings of Judah were buried in the city of David but not in the tombs of the kings: Jehoram (II Chronicles 21:20), and Joash (II Chronicles 24:5). If there was any question as to Solomon’s character when he died, he may not have been buried with his father. In Nehemiah 13:26, Nehemiah spoke of Solomon. If Solomon was not right with God, he would not have been a good example to use. When Jesus compared Himself with Solomon, Matthew 12:42, Luke 11:31, He was not rebuked by the Pharisees and scribes. They would have every reason to do so if Solomon died as an apostate. Perhaps, Solomon’s porch would not likely have kept its name, either. Solomon’s three books seem to be confessions of a man who had learned lessons in life (Ecclesiastes), learning (Proverbs), and love (Song of Solomon). The words of Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 seem to indicate a repentant mind wishing to pass on the convictions of his heart and the wisdom he discovered. He advises the reader to wisely acknowledge God, the Creator, while in his youth, Ecclesiastes 12:1, and to fear and follow God, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Except for his sin, Solomon was a good king, but not on par with David.
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