A full-fledged restoration movement was underway. Nehemiah was at the helm of some sweeping reforms that included restoring the purity of language and heritage necessary for Jewish blood-lines to remain pure. Some Jews “had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. So I contended with them, struck some of them and pulled on their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, ‘You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves’” (Neh. 13:23-25). This problem of cultural conformity by the adults was negatively influencing the children. Nehemiah took drastic measures to solve it.
But, what did Nehemiah say to accentuate the severity of this problem? He points to King Solomon as an example of what happened when God’s child chooses a mate not sharing the same spiritual values. Notice the specifics of Nehemiah’s warning in Nehemiah 13:26.
- Position does not prevent apostasy. Solomon was king of Israel, yet he still followed his foreign wives into sinning against God. Being in a position of importance does not insulate one from being led away from God.
- Success does not prevent apostasy. Solomon was a peerless success in his lifetime. Nobody was at good at what he did as Solomon was, but this did not keep Solomon’s heart from straying. The same is true today.
- Being beloved of God does not prevent apostasy. Solomon, as David’s son, had a special place in the heart of his God. Yet, God, in His love for Solomon, did not make him stay faithful to Him. God loves all humanity (John 3:16), but He will make no one serve and revere Him.
- Being God’s leader does not prevent apostasy. God made Solomon king over all Israel, but this provided no automatic insurance for his continued fidelity. God’s leaders among His people today can still go astray despite the work and responsibility they have.
In essence, Nehemiah tells Solomon’s descendants, “If he could allow his wives to lead him away from God, what makes you think you are different?” (cf. Neh. 13:27). Such actions were described as “defilement” and “pagan” (Neh. 13:29,30). Let us understand that the people in the position to influence us the most must be people who will bring us closer to God. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live, but bad influence led him to make the most foolish of choices. May we remember that, from the mate we choose to the friends with which we surround ourselves.