Lots of Mothers-in Law

Some people just invite complications into their lives, don’t they? Let your imagination run free with me as we think about life at home with Solomon.

It must have been difficult to keep track of all those wives. Just remembering their names would be fairly difficult. Are there 700 different women’s names? Perhaps there are, but there must have some duplicates; fifteen Rachels, more than a dozen Hannahs, several Leahs and Esthers and Ruths; the list goes on. Perhaps Solomon made them all wear name-badges, to avoid confusion.

I wonder how they all got on? Just being married to the same man may not have been enough in common for them to have been close friends. In some ways, I can imagine that there could have been rivalries, jealousies or just dislikes between some of the wives.

A swift calculation tells me that, on average, Solomon had to buy birthday presents for two of his wives every day of the year; perhaps there was the occasional day when no-one was having a birthday. But that would mean that there would be other days when there could be a whole load of wife’s birthday cards required. And then there’s the anniversaries of all the weddings!

It just occurred to me that he didn’t marry them all in one go, so some days must have been a birthday or several for some wives, anniversaries for others and wedding-days for yet more. Just imagine how Solomon must have had to say ‘Happy Birthday dear. Can’t stop, got to go and get married again before lunch, because there’s two more weddings I’m involved in this afternoon. And then I’d better have an anniversary dinner with Rachel (oh, and Mary) this evening.’

Consider with me, if you will, the scene in the royal bathroom. It would have to be the size of a football pitch just to accommodate the 700 toothbrushes, the dozens of toothpaste tubes that would be started, squeezed and finished every morning, his and hers and hers and hers and hers and hers and hers towels!

Mealtimes must have been involved events as well, with armies of cooks and servants providing soup and meats and sweets for everyone. Not forgetting the vegetarian option for 253 of the wives, or the 107 that were on a diet at any one time, or the 84 that were pregnant and therefore might be craving for weird stuff, like coal and banana pizza or celery sticks in tangerine jelly.

Of course, there must have been stacks of kids running around, fighting and fussing and shouting and playing and laughing and making a row. The laundry must have been a complicated place, as well, with a huge pile of clothing to be returned when cleaned and pressed to the right wardrobes and chests of drawers in the right rooms.

I know they didn’t have telly in those days, or video games, but just imagine the squabbling there would have been over the channel-changer. There would have to be a vote: 432 want to watch the news, while only 160 would prefer to see the re-run of Thunderbirds and 85 want to see Are You Being Served? on UK Gold. They could have done their own version of It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum ,Mum, couldn’t they!

Joking apart, the tragedy is that Solomon was not wise in choosing the women he married. It’s not the quantity of them that the Bible makes special note about; it’s the quality. Many of them were from foreign countries, and they worshipped false gods. Solomon loved his wives (1 Kings 11:2) and so it was inevitable that they would turn his heart away from God, and towards the false gods whom they worshipped. Despite the warning God gave him, he fell into this trap. He built altars for them to honour their idols, and God grew angry with Solomon. For David’s sake, he allowed Solomon to continue as king, but most of the kingdom was to be taken from the hands of Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam.

The lesson is clear: it is wise to avoid distractions and people who draw you away from obeying God and listening to him. While we may never find ourselves King or the husband of 700 wives, let’s also never find ourselves drawn away from the Lord by distractions, temptations and sin.

© 2002 Children's Ministry