Well, it gets a little bit more complicated when it turns out the role model in question has 699 other wives.
But I’m not so much concerned about the number of women King Solomon married, according to 1 Kings 11—though that’ s a staggering amount of birthdays, favorite colors, and tunic sizes to remember. I also wonder how he found the time and, um, energy, to romance so many in between all that wisdom dispensing and riches gathering fueling his fame.
Much of the commentary about how Solomon wandered from God in his later years centers on his intermarriage with foreign brides, in the face of His being warned not to: “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 3).
That’s important, of course. When God speaks, we’d be wise to pay heed to what He has to say. But that’s not what struck me most when I recently read this account again. Nor was it Solomon’s seemingly out-of-control sex addiction, which it would be easy to feel censorious about.
No, what stood out to me was the simple statement about why he ignored God’s warning: “Solomon clung to these [women] in love” (1 Kings 11:2). It doesn’t say in selfishness, or lust, or co-dependence, or in some other flawed motivation we could dismiss. It says in love, using the same Hebrew word (from the verb aheb) that is used elsewhere about godly love between humans and God Himself.
In other words, Solomon was “following his heart,” and “acting in love,” which are widely seen as golden rules for living today. Yet, clearly, without being anchored in God’s ways and truth, these are not clear or strong enough guides to keep us on track.
Now, of course I am not saying that guys should not cling to their wife (that may not be grammatically correct, but I don’t want anyone to think I am giving them an excuse to go Solomon and sign up multiple candidates). But it’ s a sobering reminder that merely acting out of what we may think is “love” can lead us astray.
In a world that increasingly says that “love” is the only measure that matters, it’s worth remembering that, just because it feels good, that may not be reason enough.
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