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The unwise policies of King Solomon

A critical assessment of the reign of Solomon reveals that his much-touted wisdom did not reflect the quality of his reign. The assessment also reveals that politically, Solomon was a big flop.
Expensive Projects which Emptied the National Coffers:
Solomon embarked on expensive and prestigious projects. This resulted in the state spending more than the kingdom's coffers could bear. The building of a temple ( 7 years ), Judgment Hall and armory took so much resource from the national treasury. All the profits Solomon realized from his profitable commercial activities was expended on the projects, leading to much suffering and hardship among his subjects.

Introduction of Forced Labour.
In a bid to reduce expenditure for his expensive projects, Solomon introduced forced unpaid labour in Israel. The introduction of forced unpaid labour was burdensome. It was also an unnecessary encroachment on the liberty of his people. This generated hatred for Solomon. 
Timna, Desert, Israel, King Solomon
High Taxation:
In order to raise revenue to complete his building projects, Solomon imposed heavy taxes on his subjects. He re-organized the land into twelve administrative districts, each with a Governor responsible to the crown. Each of these districts supplied the needs of Solomon’s palace for one month in a year. The districts with less population suffered to fulfill these monthly supplies.  

Adulteration of the Worship of God
For diplomatic reasons, Solomon married many foreign princesses. In all, there about 400 foreign wives. This was a violation of the covenant law which disallowed the Israelites from marrying foreigners. These marriages led to the adulteration of the worship of God because Solomon allowed the foreign wives to worship their individual native gods in Israel. He even built worshiping centres for his wives. Thus in his later years, Solomon turned his back to God.

The land mass left by David was reduced
Though Solomon built chariot cities and had a powerful army stationed in key fortified cities like Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer and Tamar, he could not check rebellion in his kingdom. For example, Edom and Syria revolted during his reign. 

Gave out Israelites Lands:
Solomon's financial predicament drove him to give 20 Israelite cities to Hiram of Tyre ( I Kings 9:11 ). He either sold them outright or advanced as a mortgage against a cash loan and was never redeemed. Selling or mortgaging the cities was a violation of the covenant law which forbade the giving out of landed property since it belonged to God. 

When Solomon divided the country into twelve administrative districts, he did not include Judah. This probably meant that Judah was not taxed as heavily as the other tribes. Taking into account the fragile nature of unity in Israel, its move was unwise of Solomon. 

Solomon’s wisdom had nothing to do with political statesmanship. Politically, Solomon was a total flop. He knew so much about the affairs of men. He could discern the hearts of men. He was a shrewd judge of character and uttering of wise-sayings. It also includes the ability to study the behaviour of nature in order to gain insight into appropriate human behaviour. The case of the two harlots claiming the same child illustrates this special Wisdom of Solomon.

Politically, he was a flop and his harsh rule created a feeling of hatred, and resentment against his reign, and this exploded after his death, leading to the division of the kingdom. It seems the biblical writers have embellished his wisdom because they saw that type of wisdom as the best qualification that princes, kings, and rulers should possess.  

1. God would always punish anyone who disobeys Him, no matter who he or she is.
2. We should learn to obey the voice of God in everything we do.
3. We must eschew arrogance and pride when we come into sudden wealth and prominence.
4. We should listen to the people we lead when we want to impose certain policies.
1. God punishes those who disobey him, no matter their position.
2. We should learn to obey the voice of God in everything we do.
3. Wealth, fame, riches, etc. should not make arrogant and proud.
4. In the position of leadership, we should try to listen to the people we lead.

1.            a. Describe the source of Solomon’s wisdom.
               b. How did he misuse this wisdom?
2.            a. What were the outstanding achievements of Solomon's reign?
               b. In which three ways did Solomon destroy his own achievements?
3.            a. Which factors show that Solomon was a successful king?
               b. In which three ways do you agree or disagree with the statement Solomon was successful?
4.            a. Give an account of the division of the kingdom.
               b. Which four unwise policies of Solomon contributed to the division?

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