"King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the Israelites, 'You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surly incline your heart to follow their gods"; Solomon clung to these in love. Among his wives were 700 princesses and 300 concubines; and his wives turned away his heart."
(1 Kings 11:1-3)
Political alliances have been around since the very beginning. If neighboring countries share a common interest (or have family members marry into other ruling dynasties), they're less likely to be antagonistic. Kings & Queens would align themselves with other key families to preserve positive relationships among nations.
Solomon, however, seemed to take this to the extreme. He amassed 1,000 women in his "family": 700 wives & 300 concubines. Women from all over! The wives were mostly princesses (700)... but how many "marriage alliances" does it take to secure a nation?!?! (Surely 700 is a bit of overkill, right?) Not to mention the 300 concubines, whom I have to imagine had very little political connection (and were more of attraction-based). On top of that, God had previously warned his people to avoid intermarrying with certain countries (due to their religious proclivities). Despite his reputation for wisdom, Solomon ignored this advice. The author of 1 Kings says that he "clung to these in love." Which, on the surface, sounds very romantic & noble ("clinging in love"!)... until you remember there were one thousand women he supposedly "loved."
In the end, these women (and Solomon's devotion to and affection for them) led his heart astray. In order to appease his wives, he built foreign altars and worship spaces for them, thus taking away from the authority of God. God was not pleased... and eventually removed Solomon from leadership.
So how does this relate to us today? We no longer live in a time where multiple marriages occur (even among rulers). I see this, however, as a caution against a prevailing theme in our American culture: "FOLLOW YOUR HEART!" Let passion take over! Give in to the feelings of love and romance! Follow your heart.
Okay. But what if your heart begins to lead you down paths that may not be wise? What if it causes you to go against commitments you've made, all in the name of "finding true love" or your "soul mate"? We need to guard our hearts and allow God to be our guide... not our own passions & desires (which are easily swayed!). Our lives, hearts and relationships should honor God, not our own whims. And if Solomon can succumb to this (renowned for his wisdom!), we all need to be on alert. It could happen to anyone. Seriously. Let's allow God to guide our "love connections."
(NOTE: After writing this entry, I got in my car & drove to work. On the radio (local LA station) I heard a woman tell her story about how, after 24 years of marriage, she accidentally discovered her husband was having an affair with another married woman. She chose to stick with him & go through marriage counseling together... however, still was dealing with the terrible feelings that come with the choices her husband had made.)