We tend to remember Solomon as either magically wise or the one who fell from grace with too many wives. Of his acts of wisdom, most remember only the “split the baby” story. Of the wives issue, all people remember is “hundreds.”
But we rarely think about what the text has to say.
Solomon begins his acts of wisdom, as laid out in the text, with the ruthlessness which which he began his reign (which led to internal peace), his early marriages (which reflected political advantage, stability and strength), and his insight in judgment.
The text story, consistent with the Joseph Smith version, is that Solomon failed as David did. That is, he failed when his lusts overcame his wisdom. David betrayed his inner circle in his lust for Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, daughter of Eliam and Grand daughter of Ahithopel (note 2 Samuel 23: 34, 39).
That led not only to the obvious, but to Absolom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15:31). With Solomon, giving way to lust led to the worship of Astarte (with the cycle of temple prostitutes, sodomites/children, etc.), which is where he offended God.
It is easy to draw the wrong conclusions from the story. You can take it as a tract against polygamy. You can see it all as a warning against marrying a non-member. You can see it as the fall-out from accommodation and kindness. I’ve seen all of those conclusions.
They all miss the point as does simplifying it down to Solomon worshiped false gods, which false gods do we worship in our lives — that just confounds the why of what he did.
Solomon’s sin, his failure, is that his heart turned towards lust. In his case, that led to Astarte. In ours it might lead to affairs, pornography or similar addictions. Once he had turned to lust, he turned away from God. That was the sin he left as the end cap to his story, and the lesson we can learn from it.
What do you take from the story of Solomon?