What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Scripture: 1 Kings 11:1-13

“Solomon loved the LORD” (1 Ki. 3:3)

“Solomon loved many foreign women” (1Kings 11:1)

These verses chronicle what was either a long slide in the wrong direction or a sudden departure into fast and furious unfaithfulness. I wouldn’t be surprised if in some real sense it was both as Solomon experienced it. It tends to be how we experience our entry into brokenness. It seems like both a dive into depravity and a slide into sin.

I’m deeply grateful the biblical record is considered closed. I would writhe and agonize if the clandestine conniving of my heart were displayed and dissected for all to see. Solomon was not afforded this luxury. His spiritual flailing and moral failings were recorded for all to read. The Scroll of Kings evaluates each Hebrew Monarch in light of their fulfillment of Torah and faithfulness to Yahweh. The Scroll of Kings cares little for GDP, territory expansion, unemployment rates, municipal projects, strengthening the national defense, or any other measure by which we might typically evaluate our leaders. Kings has a laser sharp theological focus. Something Solomon wavered and waned on in his own life.

It would be hasty and ill-informed if we viewed Solomon’s mistake as primarily one of sexual appetite or an incurable romantic heart. Marriages were used by leaders and rulers to ratify international peace treaties and seal global trade. Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines likely reveal he was a big time politician and entrepreneur, rather than a big time Romeo or Lothario. Solomon’s immense marital household shows the scope of his international ambition and commerce.

And in the pursuit and expression of his ambition Solomon lost his spiritual way. It was likely not that his international wives were nefariously plotting to undermine his religious identity. But nevertheless his religious devotion waned. Whether it was a string of subtle compromises or a deluge of decisive departures, Solomon’s love for God had become distracted, diluted, and disjointed from his everyday life. And the coming consequences would impact much than just Solomon. They would reap division among his nation. The kingdom would undergo a hostile dividing. Splitting into northern and southern kingdoms.

This isn’t just Solomon’s story. This is our story as well.

What’s love got to do with it?

When our fidelity to God is compromised our inner world becomes divided, and our relationships and community suffer. There is abundant grace and the steadfast love of God to call us and claim us.

The story of Solomon invites us to see our ambition, in whatever shape it takes, and to question the energy, devotion, time, and resources we put behind it. Solomon’s life invites us to look at our own. Solomon’s life invites us to cry out to God for wholeheartedness.