This is the second part of a report on my recent visit to a mosque to hear former Christian turned Muslim cleric Yusha Evans. Solomon succeeded his father David as king of Israel. Under Solomon's 40 year reign, the nation of Israel reached the apex of its power, and he is a significant figure in both Judaism and Christianity. In the brief biopgraphical sketch of Solomon given in his lecture, Yusha seemed to emphasise the negative aspects of his character. Despite God blessing him with immeasurable wisdom, power, and wealth, in his old age he married foreign women who took his heart away from God. These foreign wives worshipped other gods, and Solomon built shrines for them. As judgement, God divided his kingdom (1 Kings 11:9-13), which occurred under the reign of his son, Rehoboam.
All this is valid to point out, but Yusha neglected to mention that for most of his life, Solomon was a successful and godly ruler. It's important to read stories like that of Solomon in context. The Bible is not a hagiography. It presents people as they are, warts and all. Bible characters present us with examples to follow, or warnings to heed, as the case may be. If you read the Bible intelligently this isn't that hard to work out.
Solomon is a complex figure. He was a great and wise man, but still part of fallen, sinful humanity. The lesson we learn from his life is that God's grace extends to imperfect people. It is a testament to God's grace that Solomon's sinfulness did not keep God from using him mightily. Despite his falling away towards the end of his life, he retained his place in the Davidic line, and he was an ancestor of the Messiah himself. It would be pretty harsh to write him off entirely because he was tried and found wanting. If we applied this standard to everyone in the Bible we wouldn't have much left to work with.