With his kingship now established, Solomon had to figure out how to rule. Almost innocently, we are told that he made an alliance with Egypt and married Pharaoh’s daughter (v. 1). Alliances were made to bring nations together in peace, provide defense, and encourage trade. Yet, this was a decision that could bring dangerous consequences.
Solomon had willingly attached himself to a foreign nation. And, although he appeared to be doing so from a position of strength, he brought into his house someone who did not worship the God of Israel. Israelites were specifically forbidden to marry Canaanites because they worshiped other gods (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:1–6; Josh. 23:11–13). Although this woman was an Egyptian, the choice was ominous.
Did Solomon understand the long-term consequences of his choice? Was this an early sign that Solomon would not be a perfect leader? In verse 3 we are told that Solomon loved the Lord, “except” that he worshiped with sacrifices on the “high places” near Gibeon (v. 3). High places were open-air shrines, where Canaanites worshiped foreign gods. Israel was commanded to destroy all of them when they entered the Promised Land, but they failed to do so, and as a result some of them remained and had been repurposed to worship Yahweh.
The Lord met Solomon there and made him an offer few of us would refuse. Ask for whatever you want and you can have it, the Lord said (v. 5). What would you ask for? Solomon’s request for wisdom reveals that he understood what it took to be a good leader. He understood that shepherding God’s people required more wisdom than he had. His actions already revealed that he would need all the wisdom he could get.
>> As wonderful as any leader might seem, they are all fallible. Pray for the leaders, in your church, workplace, and government. Pray that they would recognize God as the source of wisdom they desperately need.
Lord Jesus, today we intercede for our leaders—in the home and at the local and national levels—and ask You to give them wisdom, integrity, and resilience.