King Solomon, the son of David, was the richest and most powerful king to ever govern Israel. He was given great wisdom by God, along with untold riches and power. He was also given the great privilege of building the magnificent Temple of the Lord which the Israelites would use for their religious worship and ceremonies. Later in the life of the king, however, Solomon was drawn away from the service of God by his foreign wives. He also began to oppress his people and forced them to build his extensive projects. These faults became so great that the Lord vowed to take away from Solomon’s empire ten of the tribes of Israel. The kingdom would be split in two, but only after Solomon’s death for the sake of God’s promises to David. Solomon’s virtues were very great, but his sins were large enough to cause disaster to the nation.
God spoke to Solomon in a dream soon after he had gained the throne and told Solomon to ask a favor. Solomon requested “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). God was very pleased with this request, saying “Because you have asked this…Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.” (1 Kings 3:12-13). Solomon at first used these gifts very well, and made the Kingdom of Israel very prosperous. The greatness of Solomon’s empire drew the greatest rulers of other nations to come and see for themselves its glory. Most importantly, Solomon built the massive and elegant Temple, the first permanent dwelling place of the Lord on earth. The Lord filled the Temple with His presence in the form of a cloud, and King Solomon dedicated the Temple with a long and heartfelt prayer beseeching the God for mercy and aid.
Unfortunately, Solomon’s excessive prosperity eventually became his downfall. Solomon used his wisdom to make his kingdom prosperous, but eventually his incredible riches, along with his hundreds of foreign idolatrous wives, led him away from God. He began to build pagan temples for his wives, which were an abomination and would afflict the Israelites for numerous generations to come. His gift for making extremely large, lavish, and beautiful buildings, at first used for the glory of the Lord, was then used for his own purposes. He oppressed the people by making them labor extensively making his architectural marvels, including pagan temples. Solomon’s forsaking of God caused God to separate the ten of the tribes of Israel from the rule of the house of David, leaving only the tribe of Judah to be ruled by David’s descendants.
Solomon started as a very good, wise, and religious king. His years of ruling included the most prosperous years Israel has ever known. However, Solomon was overwhelmed by excess and fell into idolatry and oppressing his people. These sins had serious consequences for both himself and the Kingdom of Israel. Solomon became a bad king later in his life. The virtues and good works of Solomon inspired the Jews for centuries, but his wicked deeds caused them excessive harm for generations to come.