1 Kings 10 & 11
Solomon had it really good. He was a king, wiser than any one before or after him. He was so rich and had made Jerusalem so rich that the city considered silver as worthless as rocks. (10:22 & 27). His wisdom and prosperity had made him famous. So famous that the queen of Sheba made a 6 month 1400 mile journey with her entourage so that she could see for herself what she had heard about Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and houses. And this wealthy queen was impressed. Verse 5 describes her has “having no breath in her” when she saw everything. Chapter 10 verses 6-10 read,
“And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. 8 Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” 10 Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”
Most of chapter 10 is devoted to describing how rich Solomon was. God had been very good to him. He was so rich that every cup, plate and utensil in his kitchen was pure gold. Verses 18-20 describe his throne.
“The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and the throne had a round top, and on each side of the seat were armrests and two lions standing beside the armrests, 20 while twelve lions stood there, one on each end of a step on the six steps. The like of it was never made in any kingdom”
Verses 23-25 describe his wealth and wisdom.
“Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24 And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. 25 Every one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.”
But as Jesus said in Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money”
Solomon had been a servant of God, but he came to love some things more than he loved The Lord. He enjoyed his wealth and he enjoyed the women that his fame brought him. Chapter 11 verses 1-3 read,
“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.”
Solomon had been a good servant to The Lord, but he started with one little compromise, he married an Egyptian, the Pharaoh’s daughter. He assumed he was strong enough to keep following the Lord. But Solomon didn’t love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength. He enjoyed his opulent lifestyle and he loved women. He couldn’t possibly do more than have occasional sex with each of the 1,000 women, 300 who didn’t have the title do make them wives and had to live as sex slaves to the licentious king. The women turned his heart from the Lord to various gods of their countries. Solomon was wise, but not wise enough to overcome his lust and obey the commandment not to intermarry with worshippers of false gods. Even today we have that commandment to keep us seeking God first. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 reads,
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.”
Verses 4-8 describe what Solomon did for his wives.
“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. 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.”
But the Lord was not going to let Solomon get away with such evil. He had been extraordinarily good to Solomon and even all his amazing experiences knowing God were not enough to keep him from pleasing his wives and chasing idols.
Do you imagine your past closeness to the Lord, your great deeds, or the good things He has given you are good enough to keep you when you take your eyes off Jesus and put them on money, stature, romance, or fleshly desires? Do you tell yourself the lie that you are a strong enough Christian that you can handle the sinful lifestyle being dangled in front of you and still love the Lord with all your heart, strength, soul, and mind? If you do that, remember that God will do something about it, because He disciplines those He loves. (Proverbs 3:11-12). Perhaps Solomon should have reread some of his writings. Verses 9-13 read,
“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. 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.”
So the Lord raised up some adversaries for Solomon. Hadad the one Edomite male that had escaped being killed when David had conquered Edom had grown up and decided that now that David was dead it was the perfect time to get revenge. Rezon, an escaped servant of Hadadezer king of Zobah who was once the leader of a group of bandits and then became king of Syria hated Israel. The final person on this list of rivals was Jeroboam, who was actually a trusted person in Solomon’s administration in charge of the workforce from the tribe of Joseph until one day he ran into Ahijah a prophet, who had a message from the Lord for him. Verses 31-33 in The Message read,
“Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces for yourself; this is by order of the God of Israel: See what I’m doing—I’m ripping the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands and giving you ten of the tribes. In honor of my servant David and out of respect for Jerusalem, the city I especially chose, he will get one tribe. And here’s the reason: He faithlessly abandoned me and went off worshiping Ashtoreth goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh god of the Moabites, and Molech god of the Ammonites. He hasn’t lived the way I have shown him, hasn’t done what I have wanted, and hasn’t followed directions or obeyed orders as his father David did.”
The Lord said He wouldn’t do it while Solomon lived but when he died and his son Rehoboam ruled then God would take it away from him leaving him only with the tribe of Judah. Solomon heard about Jeroboam’s plan to take the kingdom and tried to have him killed, but Jeroboam escaped to Egypt until Solomon died. When Solomon died Rehoboam ruled.
This is where the narrative pauses for a “to be continued.” But we know of course that the kingdom split into the Northern and Southern kingdoms, and that David’s descendants ruled Judah.
Sometimes we can have it too good. Sometimes we can let God’s blessings become more important to us than God. Or we can be so confident in our “goodness” or position with God that we let the little sins come in and before we know it we’re serving money or sex or fame or power.