Question: If it was ok for kings to have many wives, why is it wrong now? Was it ok then, or just disobedience?
Answer: It was never right for kings to have many wives; they did this in those days to make alliances with other nations. The king would marry a daughter of the king of that nation and in this way it would insure that these nations would have peace. However, Israel was supposed to be God’s nation, and they were not to act like the other nations.
Moses told the people what a king should not do: “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” (Deuteronomy 17:17) What did King Solomon do? Just what he was told not to do, and as a result look what happened to his heart. Yes, he did come back to the Lord at the end of his life, but the damage was already done to the nation.
Yes, it was disobedience! God never intended for a man to have more than one wife, even though God made provision for this in His “permissive” will in the Old Testament. But look at what Jesus said about divorce being as a result of a hard heart. I believe having more than one wife for kings falls into this category. It was never what God intended for man and Jesus makes this perfectly clear when he answers a question for the Pharisees about divorce. God meant for one man to be with one woman for a life time:
“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:3-8)
In the Age of Grace which we are living in, or the Church Age, Scripture is very clear about what God wants for Christians. “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.” (Titus 1:5-6) You might say, “Well that is just talking about pastors.” Every verse that speaks about a man and a woman says one wife for one man here is another example. “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-3) Notice it is always wife singular.
In Ephesians we find this same theme made crystal clear it says: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:31-33) God knows what is best for us and we need to trust and obey Him, even if some kings in the Old Testament did not.
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
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