1 Kings 11

Evil In The Sight Of The Lord

Solomon was the wisest man ever to live, but wisdom is not a savior, and the king loved women more than the Lord. The Bible is an honest book that tells God's story without withholding or hiding failures. The things that happen in the story can be prescriptive or descriptive. Prescriptive things inform people what they should do and how they should live. Descriptive things tell what happened but are not intended to be emulated. Israel's kings took many wives, but this was not God's intention for marriage. Jesus pointed to the creation mandate when he was asked about marriage and God had already given some instructions outlining what Kings should and should not do before Israel ever had a king. 

“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
— (Deuteronomy 17:14–20, ESV)

Solomon disobeyed the Lord and multiplied wives for himself, including those that the law expressly prohibited. Solomon chose to cling to these women instead of clinging to God. He had seven hundred wives that were members of royalty in the surrounding nations and three hundred concubines or wives of secondary rank. The incredible thing about these numbers is that they are not unreasonable when compared with other monarchs of the East. These wives turned away Solomon's heart from the Lord which was the reason God forbade such marriages. Solomon sanctioned his wives idolatrous practices. This is the same Solomon that was once anxious about the presence of Pharaoh's daughter in the city of David who now builds high places for other gods. The Bible lists three of the gods Solomon went after Ashtoreth, a fertility goddess, Milcom whose worship normally included child sacrifice and Chemosh. Solomon was not singularly devoted to the Lord as his father David had been, and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Solomon did these things for the women he clung to so that they could worship their gods. 

God's Anger

The Lord with Solomon because his love for him grew cold and his sinful patterns continued. God had appeared to him twice, and Solomon had enjoyed incredible favor and blessing. God had also warned Solomon about what would happen if he disregarded the commands of the Lord. God's judgment upon Solomon's sin was dreadful; God would rip the kingdom from Solomon, and it would be given to a servant. God's judgment was tempered with mercy. These things would not take place until after Solomon's death, and it would not be complete for the sake of David and Jerusalem. 

Adversaries Arise

The Lord raised up Hadad, an Edomite. This was an enemy from the reign of his father, David. He had escaped to Egypt during a campaign that lasted six months. Hadad was young and managed to flee to Egypt where he found favor with Pharaoh. He was given a house, land, and provisions. Eventually, Hadad married Pharaoh's sister-in-law and had a son. The deaths of David and Joab prompted Hadad to return to his homeland. The Lord raised another opponent named Rezon from Damascus. He became the leader of a gang that preyed on Israelite interests. He became the ruler of Syria and hated Israel. He inflicted harm regularly. Jeroboam was an Israelite, the son of Nebat and he rebelled against the king. He had been in charge of the forced labor of the house of Joseph. A prophet named Ahijah came to Jeroboam in a new garment. He took the new garment and tore it into twelve pieces and told Jeroboam to take ten pieces which pictured the kingdom being torn and ten tribes going to Jeroboam. This was taking place due to the ongoing willful disobedience of Solomon who had forsaken God. It would happen after Solomon's death, and the son would keep at least one tribe so that David would always have a lamp before the Lord. Ahijah assured Jeroboam that he would be king and that if he obeyed the Lord and walked well before him, he would be established. Ahijah explained that Lord did not intend to afflict David forever. Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to Egypt where he stayed until the death of Solomon. Solomon's reign lasted forty years, and he was buried in the city of David. He was succeeded by his son Rehoboam.

Things To Consider:

  • How could someone with such wisdom fall so far?
  • Why do we set our affections on things and people rather than God?
  • Why do you think Solomon had so many wives?
  • Do you ever compromise your beliefs to please others? Why?
  • Was God right to be angry with Solomon? Why?
  • Why is it difficult to be satisfied with the blessings God has given us?
  • Why is God so concerned with our hearts?
  • Why do you think God tempered his judgment with grace?
  • How do we lose sight of what's important?
  • What sort of legacy did Solomon leave?