From 1 Kings 10-11
Solomons kingdom and wealth expands. At one point the Queen of Sheba hearing of him comes and visits. She is overwhelmed with his wisdom and recognises how luck his people are to have him as king. But Solomon’s wealth and power prove to be his undoing. He turns away from the LORD.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
11 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (1 Ki 11:1–3)
Moses was quite clear, the king should not acquire many wives for himself or excessive silver and gold (Dt 17.17). David probably pushed the limit with his wives (2 Sam 5.13), but the LORD gave some to him (2 Sam 12.8). Solomon has gone overboard and paid the price. How this happened is strange because Solomon is meant to have a discerning heart. To tell the difference between good and evil. Of all people, he should have realised the temptation his so many foreign wives would have. I guess sin can creep in and deceive anyone. Even the wisest among us.
4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. (1 Ki 11:4-6)
You will probably notice the emphasis on the heart. Solomons heart was turned away. David’s heart on the other hand remained true to the LORD and he wholly followed the LORD. At some point Solomon must have been devoted to the LORD. But then he turned away. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD. What did he do?
7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. (1 Ki 11:7-8)
His wives still worshiped their foreign gods. They got him to build places of worship for them. Perhaps even Solomon began to worship them as well. Solomon’s sin was idolatry. Worse, his example would lead the people under him into idolatry.
9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. (1 Ki 11:9–10)
Solomon got comfortable with all the LORD’s blessings. He forgot the LORD had appeared to him twice. Most people in the Old Testament never had this blessing. Yet somehow Solomon forgot. Further the LORD warned him about idolatry. Despite the warnings Solomon didn’t listen.
11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.” (1 Ki 11:11–13)
The LORD describes Solomon’s sin as his practice (1 Ki 11.11). Solomon kept doing it. He didn’t stop. It possibly suggests a one off with repentance might have been overlooked. But more seriously Solomon has not kept the covenant. Breaking the law is equivalent to breaking the covenant. The LORD now has a problem. The king is unfaithful, but he must remain faithful to his earlier promises to David. We could probably stretch as far back as Abraham as well.
The LORD will punish Solomon – the kingdom will be torn apart.
But the LORD will also remain faithful to his promises despite Solomon’s sin. His line will continue.
Story of Israel
Solomon’s line will continue and his sin initiates a long line of infidelity to the LORD. There are many kings who turn away from him and do evil in his sight (e.g. 1 Ki 14.22; 15.26,34; 16.7,19,25,30; 21.25; 22.43,52). As the passage describes the problem with Solomon and all these kings surfaces in their heart. The center of their being which controls their mind, will and emotions.
The LORD is aware of this and he promises to correct this problem a bit further on after he returns Israel from exile.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Eze 36:22–32)
Story of Jesus
This promise isn’t fulfilled until Jesus died and rose again. After he ascended he sent the Spirit which dwells in all believers hearts (2 Cor 1.22; 3.3). Hence in the New Testament the hearts of believers are looked upon in more favourable terms.
Paul for example likes to speak about the heart. The hearts of all believers are enlightened (Eph 1.18). He speaks about the circumcision of the heart which is necessary to obtain praise from God (Rom 2.29). The love of God is poured into believers hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5.5). The believers as a result have become obedient from the heart (Rom 6.17; Eph 6.6; 1 Tim 1.5).
According to Paul it is the heart that believes Jesus rose from the dead that God counts as righteous (Rom 10.9-10). Within the heart the Holy Spirit motivates believers to cry to God saying ‘Abba! Father’ (Gal 4.6). Its the heart that is tested (1 Thes 2.4) and the heart that must be established as blameless when Jesus returns (1 Thes 3.13).
Don’t be like Solomon, ask God to keep guarding your heart (Col 3.15; 2 Thes 3.5; Phil 4.7).
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.