24: The Disaster of King Solomon
The Grace in Solomon's Background
Solomon as king with God's blessing
Solomon's failure and God's judgment
Possible Reasons for this Judgment
The Outworking of the Judgment
is something about King Solomon that leaves one scratching one's head
and wondering about the absurdity of the human race at times. Our
objective throughout these studies has been to try to fathom what
goes on and why, not only to explain the judgments we are observing
but also to try to learn things about the human race and about God.
There is a single judgment in respect of Solomon but to understand
the enormity of the various aspects of it we really do need to put
Solomon under the microscope of our considerations.
The Grace in Solomon's Background
parents are David and Bathsheba. Now we have already seen something
of this in the previous chapter when we observed David's failure in
respect of Bathsheba and Uriah. The child, conceived by the illicit
union of David and Bathsheba, died. David marries Bathsheba, she conceives
again and Solomon is born. In the previous chapter we noted the depth
of David's repentance and suggested that it is only the depth of David's
repentance that opens the way for the Lord to continue to bless his
also warned that we are often harder than the Lord on sin and fail
to see that after repentance and discipline, the Lord's grace wants
to redeem the situation and still bring good out of it.
love for Solomon
what is amazing is what we next read:
She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The
LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word
through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah
is a footnote in your Bible that says ‘Jedidiah means loved
by the LORD'
consider how this would play out in a modern church if the leader
committed adultery and then plotted for the removal of the husband
and we found that the fruit of his adultery was a child born to the
couple – who then dies. I cannot help but feel that at that point
many would say, “Serve them right, they deserved that to happen.”
then they get married and have another child. What are the church
now thinking I wonder? Put them out of the church; this child is a
constant reminder of their past sin. Get rid of them. They must be
a blot in the kingdom of God .
And then a prophetic person stands up and says, “This says the Lord.
I love this child.” Half the congregation at least, splutter, “False
that is what the record says!
how can Solomon be loved by God? What is the point of saying that?
Principles to learn
are some key spiritual principles to be adhered to here:
That of repentance
it doesn't matter what the sin, where that has been true repentance
God's forgiveness follows.
this requires us to also forgive but it may take a while for that
to flow and for trust to be regained.
Of individuality of guilt
the individual sinner is the one who is guilty
David is the guilty one, not Solomon.
Blessing now, guilt later
it is clear from Scripture that God blesses the individual as they
are now, and does not stop that blessing because He knows there will
be failure later.
God's grace blesses at this moment where there is obedience now, openness
of heart now etc.
are crucial lessons and we will see them further on in the chapter.
Solomon is born and approved of by God.
is clear from the multitude of verses about David that he was much
loved of God and that God's heart was so moved by him that it affected
the way the Lord dealt with subsequent kings.
the Lord is grieved by our sin, is it possible
that in respect of David….
that He is pleased when He sees true repentance
that goes deep in us?
that even before He chose David publicly, He
saw his heart and knew that it was a heart that was imperfect but
was one that would own up and fully repent when it did wrong?
that this is one of the characteristics of
David that allows him to be described as a man after God's own heart,
because even though he is human and vulnerable to temptation when
he is faced with his humanity and sin and guilt he is racked by
it, even hates it and hates himself, because he hates sin?
that when the Lord looked on all the men and
women with whom He had dealings, He found in David this rarity that
made him stand out from the rest and thus blessed the Lord's heart?
that because of all this the Lord is delighted
to be able to go on blessing David and using him as His king over
that in respect of Solomon…
that He knew what the future held and of Solomon's
eventual fall but nevertheless wanted to give Solomon the opportunity
to be blessed and be a blessing to the world?
that He wanted to do that for David's sake?
that He saw Solomon's initial heart and was
blessed by what He saw, a man who He could use to bless this nation
and reveal His goodness to the world?
Solomon as King with God's blessing
asks David to ensure Solomon becomes king, and he does, but then …...
of help from God
Kings 3:5-14 “At
Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and
God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give
you. Solomon answered, "You have shown great
kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful
to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this
great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne
this very day.
O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father
David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out
my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen,
a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant
a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between
right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said
to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for
long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of
your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will
do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart,
so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there
ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both
riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal
among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands
as David your father did, I will give you a long life."
what happened in this dream:
God comes to Solomon and asks him what He can
do for him
Solomon asks for a discerning heart to govern
and to distinguish between right and wrong
The Lord is pleased with this and agrees
to give him this AND riches and honour
wisdom seen in Solomon
the chapters that follow this wisdom is seen in Solomon
Kings 3:28 When
all Israel heard …. they held the king in awe, because they saw that
he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
it goes on we find….
Kings 4:29-34 God
gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding
as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater
than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the
wisdom of Egypt . He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan
the Ezrahite--wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol.
And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three
thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described
plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out
of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.
Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all
the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.
goes on to built the Temple and a grand palace and commits himself
and Israel to the Lord.
strong warning given
Lord comes to him again and brings a stern warning:
Kings 9:3-9 The
LORD said to him: "I have heard the prayer and plea you have
made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built,
by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always
be there. "As for you, if you walk before me
in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and
do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish
your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father
when I said, `You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of
if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe
the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other
gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I
have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for
my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule
among all peoples. And though this temple is now imposing, all who
pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, `Why has the LORD
done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' People will answer,
`Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their
fathers out of Egypt , and have embraced other gods, worshiping and
serving them--that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.'
It is a clear warning to follow David's example,
keep God's decrees and not turn away and worship idols
Failure to do that will bring judgment which
will mean the destruction of the Temple and Israel will be cast out
of the Land.
He will do it so that the rest of the
world will know the reason.
Queen of Sheba comes to see for herself and testifies to what she
She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country
about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe
these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even
half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report
I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who
continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the
LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne
of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel , he has
made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."
is an amazing testimony and reveals something of the measure of God's
blessing. The recorder notes of his reign….
Kings 10:23-25 King
Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings
of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear
the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who
came brought a gift--articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and
spices, and horses and mules.
surely is the peak of God 's intentions for His people.
they are still sinful people.
Solomon's failure and God's judgment
Kings 11:1-6 King
Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites,
Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations
about which the LORD had told the Israelites, " You must
not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn
your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast
to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three
hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray .
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other
gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the
LORD his God , as the heart of David his father had been.
He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the
detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the
eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely,
as David his father had done.
Kings 11:9-13 The
LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from
the LORD, the God of Israel , who had appeared to him twice. Although
he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep
the LORD's command. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this
is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees,
which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away
from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for
the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime.
I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the
whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of
David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem , which I have chosen."
what God said:
- He made clear
why the judgment
- He will take
most of the kingdom away from Solomon's family
- Yet for David's
sake He will not do it in Solomon's lifetime
- Ten of the tribes
will leave Solomon; apart from his own tribe, only one other will
stay with his family.
there is a mystery, or perhaps a series of mysteries, over all this
because the Lord does not explain His thinking.
Mystery of the Lord's Inaction
one of the greatest mysteries is why the Lord did not send a prophet
to chastise and correct Solomon much earlier before he had got under
way marrying so many foreign wives.
same question applied to us may give answers – why doesn't the Lord
step in and stop us making blunders?
answer has got to be because He doesn't want to cross the barriers
of free will but instead respects our individuality and right to do
stupid things. Learning from them is part of the path to maturity.
truth is, of course, that the Lord had clearly laid down what was
right and wrong before Solomon and with so much wisdom you would have
thought that Solomon would pay attention and obey.
Mystery of the Lord's Foreknowledge
foreknowledge He must know the outcome of what will happen to the
ten northern tribes, how the kings of the north will from the outset
set up idols and fail to represent God well.
reality of the future, which the Lord must have know about, was that
by 722BC Samaria would have fallen and the northern kingdom dissolved
and by 587BC Jerusalem would be destroyed and the southern kingdom
carried into exile, all because of the ongoing sin of the people.
the kingdom as He did, only seems to have exacerbated the problem,
so why did He do it?
can only make suggestions because reasons are not given.
Possible Reasons for this Judgment
The Obvious – Discipline Solomon & his family
the word of rebuke above (1 Kings 11) is intended to chastise Solomon.
might have thought that he would warn his sons so that they would
at least do all they can to counter any move towards division.
might also have wondered if Solomon might have repented but that would
have presented him with a problem of what to do with all those wives.
Anyway the fact was, according to the record, that it was a heart
problem (1 Kings 11:4-6) and often it is difficult for a heart to
of what Sin would achieve
surface suggestion is that the word above simply states what will
happen because of the sinful stupidity of the people involved, i.e.
this division was going to happen anyway; this is just prophecy.
might be acceptable if it wasn't for the following two things:
“Jeroboam was going
out of Jerusalem , and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him”
(1 Kings 11:29) and tells him God's plan of dividing the kingdom
and his part in it – he is thus motivated.
“So the king did
not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD”
(1 Kings 12:15) i.e. the Lord
was in the episode of the young men giving Rehoboam bad advice causing
the people to reject him.
wasn't just an accidental rebellion and division; it was God's will
and He was in the circumstances to bring it about.
the Leadership Base
two kingdoms out of one means two leaders and therefore two possibilities
of getting it right
prophetic word comes to leaders in both kingdom and so we might hope
for better things.
Lord doesn't walk away and leave them to destruction, so there must
have been hope in His heart.
there is ongoing failure it only goes to show us the stupidity of
sin that despite being given a second chance it still gets it wrong.
For the sake of the onlooking world
have said all along that Israel were to reveal something of the Lord
to the onlooking world.
anyone who has eyes to see and a mind to think about these things,
this situation suggests the following lessons:
- God is
a God of grace who gives second chances.
set in Sin is truly stupid to reject the second chance.
The Outworking of the Judgment
were immediate hostilities that came against Solomon:
the Edomite (1 Kings 11:14)
(1 Kings 11:23)
(1 Kings 11:26)
was the main source of ‘opposition in the wings', so to speak, when
Rehoboam was made king (1 Kings 12:1,2)
people ask Rehoboam to lighten the load on them that Solomon had imposed
consults with the elders who said do it (12:6,7)
he consulted with the young men who said make it harder (12:8-14)
when the people return he speaks harshly to them (12:15)
a result the people reject him (12:16) and make Jeroboam king over
the ten northern tribes (12:20)
goes to fight against Jeroboam (12:21) but a word from God comes through
a man named Shemaiah not to fight for this is of God's doing (12:22-24)
The nation was divided into two:
- the northern
kingdom, Israel, comprising ten tribes, eventually based on Samaria
- the southern
kingdom, Judah, comprising Judah and Benjamin, based on Jerusalem
this form they continue until, as noted above,
- the northern
kingdom is ended in 722BC and Samaria brought down, and
- the southern
kingdom is ended in 587BC when Jerusalem is destroyed.
should note that this was not the end of the story (which we will
consider in more detail in a later chapter) for approximately 50 years
later Cyrus allows some of the Israelites to start retuning to the
Land and the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt and then the walls and
structure of Jerusalem is rebuilt and the nation grows to what it
eventually was, under Roman domination when Jesus Christ was born.
have observed in this chapter
wonder of God's Grace in Solomon's Background
wonder of Solomon's reign under God's blessing
failure and God's judgment that followed
Speculative Possible Reasons for this Judgment
the Judgment worked out
wonder of the first two of these makes Solomon's folly even more terrible.
do what he did meant that he completely disregarded
- his experiences
of God that only brought him blessing
- the warnings
that God had given not to go down that path.
God's warnings not to take foreign wives,
his foreign wives to practice the religion from their own countries
along with those religions himself and thus
abandoning the Lord.
Judgment brought on him
was clearly stated beforehand
was clearly orchestrated by God
but came about by the sinfulness of people
on all sides
and brought about a division in the nation
which lasted until both parts very eventually destroyed
the current events took place approx 930BC
Israel would only last approx. 208 years and
Judah would last approx. 343 years.
have speculated that perhaps, as well as disciplining Solomon and
his family, the Lord was giving Israel two opportunities of either
getting it right or revealing to the world the folly of sin.
the subsequent reigns of the kings of the respective kingdoms, a little
bit of reading reveals that
those in the northern kingdom constantly got
it wrong while
the picture of the southern kingdom was up
and down with some being just as bad, and others very much better,
yet none quite matching up to David's reign.
must be noted before we conclude this chapter is the Lord's incredible
grace that never gave up on Israel , even after the Exile and persevered
with them despite a constant history of individuals turning away and
getting it badly wrong.
is most amazing about His dealings with Solomon was that He did not
destroy Solomon earlier on in his life for blatantly disregarding
the Lord, especially after the Lord had blessed him and blessed him
again with wisdom and wealth.
may be times in Scripture where, to be fair, it is difficult to understand
the severity of God's judgments but, in this case, what is difficult
to understand is the gentle way He dealt with Solomon, and the only
answer appears to be, because of what He felt about David. It is amazing
that one man can so move God's heart.
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