He might have loved her, but he couldn’t live with her. He married her, but he wouldn’t move in with her. He gave her his heart, but she couldn’t share his home. Because, though she was his honey, she wasn’t holy. Though she was his sweetheart, she wasn’t set apart. Such is the cloud over the portion of 2Chronicles I read this morning.
Solomon brought Pharaohs daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not live in the house of David king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy.”
(2Chroncles 8:11 ESV)
In my bible 2Chronicles 8 is subtitled, Solomon’s Accomplishments. Between this chapter and the next there is an amazing summary of Solomon’s over-the-top wisdom, words, and wealth. A really impressive bio. The fame and reputation that preceded him paling in comparison to actually meeting him. With glory given to the God “who has delighted in you and set you on His throne as king for the LORD your God” (9:8).
And tucked away in this report detailing his greatness is the identification of his Achilles heel. It’s the hole in his dam. The chink in his armor. His wife couldn’t live where he lived, couldn’t reside where he resided, because it was too near the holy place–and she wasn’t. And so he builds her another place to live and she moves off the holy hill, eventually taking Solomon’s heart with her.
That Solomon took her as his wife was more strategic than romantic. 1Kings tells us that “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (1Ki 3:1). He took a bride from the land of his people’s deliverance in order to leverage the best of what that world had to offer.
Little did he know, I’m thinking, that it would mark the start of a slippery slope as he would love “many foreign women . . . from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods'” (1Ki. 11:1-2). And though he tried to keep separate the sacred from the secular, not letting them reside on the holy hill where God’s glory would reside, “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1Ki. 11:4).
The record would indicate that Solomon did not submit his love life to the lordship of Jehovah. And I’m thinking that alarms should have gone off in his head and yellow flags raised in his conscience when he recognized that his first wife was incompatible with his first love. Though he sought the Lord and sacrificed to the Lord, he had to do it alone. He should have known something wasn’t right when he came to the conclusion that if the glory was to abide then his gal would need to reside somewhere else.
A warning, it seems to me. A warning about somehow thinking we can separate our worlds. That somehow we can organize the sacred apart from the secular and enjoy the fruits of each. That somehow we can work a “win-win” alliance with the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light without the kingdom of darkness eventually taking over. That somehow, if we just set up the right boundaries, we can share our heart between the Way and the world without the world consuming us.
How I need to beware of unholy alliances. How I need to be cautious of anything I cling to which I wouldn’t carry in with me to the holy of holies.
Instead, might everything be sacred. Everything sanctified as it is brought under submission to the will and word of God. That the loves of my life might be consecrated by the Lover of My Soul.
All by His sanctifying grace. All for His shining glory.