Solomon’s kingdom looked like the fulfillment of everything God had promised his people, all the way back to Abraham. Israel was prosperous, secure and a blessing to other nations.

Solomon looked like a godly king, too. He asked for and received wisdom. He built the Temple. He offered a wonderful prayer at the Temple dedication— praising God’s goodness, expressing faith, and pledging devotion.

So what went wrong?

Solomon let his many foreign wives lead him away from God. God had warned against foreign wives. But perhaps Solomon thought obeying that particular detail of God’s law wasn’t necessary. Maybe he thought his own ideas of what felt like wise leadership were better.

The result was terrible. The kingdom was divided. The northern king, Jeroboam, strayed even further from God. Jeroboam thought it was a good idea to make his own places of worship (not God’s) with his own priests (not God’s) and his own methods (golden calves!).

When we think we can serve and worship God by following our own ideas about what sounds good, we get in trouble. Even a rich, powerful and wise king must search God’s word and follow him.

The King God’s people really need is Jesus—all-wise, all-powerful, and rich beyond measure. Yet even Jesus did not think he could serve the Father however he liked: “The Son… can only do what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19). He’s the King we love, and the example we follow in putting God’s word first.

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