As Solomon succeeded his father David on the throne of Israel, he was granted wisdom by God to rule the people of Israel well. He also built a magnificent temple as a place for God to dwell with His people. Here, the Israelites offered praise and sacrifice day and night.
After the temple had been dedicated to God, He again appeared to Solomon, but this time with a warning. He told him not to worship other gods or else Israel would be cut off from the land they had been given. Solomon heeded the words initially, and continued to build. He built himself a palace near the temple, the walls of Jerusalem, many cities and storage facilities, and his army. He even built up a fleet of ships. To do all of this, he conscripted forced labor from the people who were not Israelites. Because of all of this, Solomon amassed great wealth, unlike any other king on earth before him, and his wisdom was legendary. His kingdom was so famous that kings and queens traveled from all over to marvel at the glory of Israel.
Yet, Solomon did not remain faithful to the Lord. He had many wives, some of whom were foreign. These wives turned his heart to be tolerant of their pagan Gods. He allowed for temples to be built in honor of their Gods. It is likely that even child sacrifices were made at these temples. God was displeased and informed Solomon that the Kingdom would be split after his reign.
It can be hard to understand why Solomon would turn away from the Lord after all that he had received. However, we must remember that God had warned through Moses what the King of Israel must not do. They must not amass great wealth, wives, or a large army. Solomon does all three, and the result leads to the division of God’s people. All of these things in themselves are not bad things. It is good to have a wife or a husband, enough money to provide for our needs and proper protection. However, if enough is amassed of any of these, they can trick us into believing that we can provide for our own needs. Thus, we no longer rely on God. We become Gods unto ourselves. This is where sin creeps in. In the amassing of worldly pleasures, we begin to rationalize sin in order to hold onto them because we implicitly believe that they, not God, fulfill our desires. In this way, we grasp after what we want like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden rather than let our Heavenly Father provide for us.
Unfortunately, unlike his father, Solomon does not return to the Lord. By the end of the 40 years of Solomon’s reign, he had done great things for Israel in its worship and economy. Yet, the forced labor, tolerance of other Gods, and his great amount of wealth had turned him away from God. His sin makes a lasting effect on the people of Israel, but sets the scene for the True Son of David to gather the lost children of Israel under His reign.