King Solomon is known for being the son of King David, and his name carries with it the connotation of peace. He was able to build up peace in his reign, yet it did not end well with him. He left the tribes of Israel in a state of division and idolatry that would only escalate after his death.
It is a jarring thing for us to consider that any one man could have 700 wives, but it would be a failure on our part not to consider this behavior similar to a type of addiction and spiritual compromise. There are all sorts of problems with Solomon’s actions here, but to focus on one, I’d like to briefly examine his failure to put God first. Solomon, who was seeking peace with other nations, married these women of royal heritage in order to foster good relations with the nations outside of the elect. One compromise after another adds up, and the heart of Solomon slowly faded away from a true worship of God. In his seeking to please and build a worldly type of peace, he forgot to first pursue a peace that can only come from God.
We could, I suppose, reflect here on the notion of true peace, and the worldly type God doesn’t command. Rather, I would like to bring to light the phenomenon of moral and spiritual compromise that slowly erodes the faith away. We only look so briefly at the beginning of Solomon’s rule and its end, yet should also recognize that there was a series of compromises taking place in the midst of these two points in his own personal history. The same is true for each one of us. We need to do a spiritual inventory from time to time of the little or perhaps big compromises that we have chosen, and ask ourselves: how have they changed our love of God?
This discernment should not be conflated with a type of rigid adherence to external behavior per se. Rather, it is about an internal compromise, a sin that occurs within us. Such compromises have the effect of turning our heart and mind away from God. The sad thing is, the wisdom Solomon had in the beginning of his mission as King was lost, and he could not even recognize that it was lost. A type of dark forgetfulness clouds his mind, as does all vice. This descent into error begins often with small actions, small compromises.
As we approach Lent, may our focus not only be on manifest areas of sin that we struggle to overcome. May we also be focused on the little sins that add up and add to the force of these temptations.