"Judgments of a Loving God" - Chapter 24





Chapter 24: The Disaster of King Solomon



Chapter 24 Contents

24.1 Introduction

24.2 The Grace in Solomon's Background

24.3 Solomon as king with God's blessing

24.4 Solomon's failure and God's judgment

24.5 Possible Reasons for this Judgment

24.6 The Outworking of the Judgment

24.7 Summary-Conclusion



24.1 Introduction


There 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.



24.2 The Grace in Solomon's Background


The family background


Solomon's 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 family.

We 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.


God's love for Solomon


Now what is amazing is what we next read:


2 Sam 12:24,25   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


There is a footnote in your Bible that says ‘Jedidiah means loved by the LORD'


A modern application?


Now 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.”

But 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 prophecy!”

But that is what the record says!

So how can Solomon be loved by God? What is the point of saying that?


Spiritual Principles to learn


There are some key spiritual principles to be adhered to here:


i. 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.


ii. Of individuality of guilt

  • the individual sinner is the one who is guilty
  • David is the guilty one, not Solomon.


iii. 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.


These are crucial lessons and we will see them further on in the chapter.

So Solomon is born and approved of by God.


Other Aspects?


  • It 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.
  • Although the Lord is grieved by our sin, is it possible

a) 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 His people?

b) 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?


24.3 Solomon as King with God's blessing


Bathsheba asks David to ensure Solomon becomes king, and he does, but then …...


Offer of help from God


1 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.

"Now, 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?"

The 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."


Observe 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


God's wisdom seen in Solomon

In the chapters that follow this wisdom is seen in Solomon


1 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.


As it goes on we find….


1 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.


Solomon goes on to built the Temple and a grand palace and commits himself and Israel to the Lord.


A strong warning given

The Lord comes to him again and brings a stern warning:


1 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 Israel.'

"But 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.


A spectacular testimony


The Queen of Sheba comes to see for herself and testifies to what she sees:


1 Kings 10:6-9   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."


  • It is an amazing testimony and reveals something of the measure of God's blessing. The recorder notes of his reign….


1 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.


  • This surely is the peak of God 's intentions for His people.
  • Sadly they are still sinful people.



24.4 Solomon's failure and God's judgment


His failure


1 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.


The Lord's response


1 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."


Note 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.


Now there is a mystery, or perhaps a series of mysteries, over all this because the Lord does not explain His thinking.


The Mystery of the Lord's Inaction


  • Perhaps 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.
  • The same question applied to us may give answers – why doesn't the Lord step in and stop us making blunders?
  • The 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.
  • The 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.


The Mystery of the Lord's Foreknowledge


  • Having 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.


  • The 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.


  • Dividing the kingdom as He did, only seems to have exacerbated the problem, so why did He do it?
  • We can only make suggestions because reasons are not given.



24.5 Possible Reasons for this Judgment


The Obvious – Discipline Solomon & his family


  • Clearly the word of rebuke above (1 Kings 11) is intended to chastise Solomon.
  • You 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.
  • You 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 change.


Declaration of what Sin would achieve


  • A 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.
  • That 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.


This wasn't just an accidental rebellion and division; it was God's will and He was in the circumstances to bring it about.


Spread the Leadership Base


  • Creating two kingdoms out of one means two leaders and therefore two possibilities of getting it right
  • The prophetic word comes to leaders in both kingdom and so we might hope for better things.
  • The Lord doesn't walk away and leave them to destruction, so there must have been hope in His heart.
  • Where 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


  • We have said all along that Israel were to reveal something of the Lord to the onlooking world.
  • For 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.
  •   Mankind set in Sin is truly stupid to reject the second chance.



24.6 The Outworking of the Judgment


There were immediate hostilities that came against Solomon:

  •   Hadad the Edomite (1 Kings 11:14)
  •   Rezin (1 Kings 11:23)
  •   Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26)


  • Jeroboam was the main source of ‘opposition in the wings', so to speak, when Rehoboam was made king (1 Kings 12:1,2)
  • The people ask Rehoboam to lighten the load on them that Solomon had imposed (12:3,4)
  • He consults with the elders who said do it (12:6,7)
  • But he consulted with the young men who said make it harder (12:8-14)
  • Thus when the people return he speaks harshly to them (12:15)
  • As a result the people reject him (12:16) and make Jeroboam king over the ten northern tribes (12:20)
  • Rehoboam 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)
  • Thus The nation was divided into two:
  • the northern kingdom, Israel, comprising ten tribes, eventually based on Samaria , and
  •   the southern kingdom, Judah, comprising Judah and Benjamin, based on Jerusalem

In 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.


We 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.



24:7 Summary-Conclusions


We have observed in this chapter

  • The wonder of God's Grace in Solomon's Background
  • The wonder of Solomon's reign under God's blessing
  •  Solomon's failure and God's judgment that followed
  •  Some Speculative Possible Reasons for this Judgment
  •  How the Judgment worked out


The wonder of the first two of these makes Solomon's folly even more terrible.

To 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.


Solomon's folly comprised

  •   ignoring God's warnings not to take foreign wives,
  •   allowing his foreign wives to practice the religion from their own countries
  •   going along with those religions himself and thus
  •   completely abandoning the Lord.

The 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


As the current events took place approx 930BC

  •   Israel would only last approx. 208 years and
  •   Judah would last approx. 343 years.


We 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.


In 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.


What 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.


What 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.


There 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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