The Latter Years--Disaster
(1 Kings 11:1-43)
The reign of Solomon is the most baffling of all the reigns in Israel's history. It started out with so much promise. Solomon attained so much wisdom at an early age. Because of God's favor upon his life, Solomon amassed more riches than any Jewish king before or after him. All Israelite kings who follow him will pale in comparison with him--at least up to the point our present story begins. In the latter years of his reign Solomon will fall to such depths that he leads Israel down a path she will follow for the next 400 years. It takes the calamity of the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. for Israel to recover from Solomon's leadership.
THE ACCOUNT IN 1 KINGS
What kind of women did Solomon choose to be his wives (1 Kings 11:1)?
According to 11:2 what was the problem with Solomon having these women for his wives?
Apparently his relationship with his wives did not affect him when he was younger. When did they begin to influence him towards idol worship (11:4)?
According to verses 5 and 7 what gods did Solomon begin to worship?
The author of 1 Kings states that the god of the Moabites, Chemosh, was detestable. It was detestable in that the worshipers of Chemosh were commanded to offer child sacrifices to him.
The Lord commands the Israelites not even to associate with the pagan nations around them. Yet how did Solomon respond to these nations? He married their women. How could Solomon have ever justified marrying these pagan women?
He might have justified his actions by pointing to the fact that one of the heroes of the OT was none other than a Moabitess, Ruth. Ruth, a Moabitess had left her land of Moab and followed Naomi to Bethlehem over 100 years earlier. Boaz, from the tribe of Judah, had even gone so far as to marry Ruth. Now not only was she a Moabitess, she was also his great-great grandmother. If Boaz his great-great grandfather could marry a Moabitess and make a hero out of her, why couldn't he? However, what is the radical distinction between Ruth the Moabitess and the Moabitess princess Solomon marries? What does Ruth 1:16 tell us about her (she is speaking to Naomi her mother-in-law who believes in God): "Your people shall be my people, and your _____________ my _________"?
Did Solomon's Moabitess princess say the same thing (1 Kings 11:7)?
Next, Solomon might have justified his intermarriage with women of foreign powers by asserting that these political alliances were needed during time of war. At the present time the nations surrounding Israel might be weak; however, a power from modern-day Iraq might suddenly emerge on the scene and wreak havoc upon the Israelites. Yet did Gideon need foreign alliances to defeat the far greater army of the Midianites?
Also, Solomon probably thought that it was highly unlikely that the Egyptian Pharaoh would attack Solomon since his daughter was married to Solomon. This intermarriage with an Egyptian princess provided for security on the borders. Yet David did not find it necessary to marry the daughters of pagan powers in order to secure his borders. How did David secure Israel's borders during his reign?
Moreover, this political alliance ultimately fails first because Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt, harbors Jeroboam who is going to lead 10 of the northern tribes to rebellion against Solomon's son (1 Kings 11:40). This Egyptian/Israelite political alliance is going to fail because what happens during the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon's son (1 Kings 14:25-26)?
Next, Solomon might have thought that since Moses gave these instructions over 400 years earlier, they were no longer applicable. Yet God does not change. A lot of lives lie on the trash heap of modernity and progressiveness. You may be PROGRESSing down a certain road; however, if the road is headed for destruction, the best thing you can do is turn around and change roads.
Now Solomon might have thought that Moses was a wise man; however, wasn't he also a wise man? Surely his wisdom counted for something. And it did as long as it did not contradict the clear teaching of the Bible.
True wisdom may expand or develop the wisdom which has come before it; however, it will never contradict it. God does speak fresh new ideas to us; however, if they contradict the wisdom He has already imparted to us, these new ideas are not from Him.
Why did Solomon do what he did? It is quite possible that after Solomon attained all his wisdom that he felt there was nothing else he had to learn from the Lord. (That might seem preposterous; however, you will see older people stay away from Bible study and worship, claiming: "Oh, I've heard all that before!" How sad. God is so deep that you will never plunge the depths of God.) These people get bored with God and Christ as they approach their senior years. Since he thought God had nothing to offer, Solomon might have thought that these other gods offered avenues of knowledge (albeit dark) he would never get from the Lord. He was tittilated by knowledge, no matter its source and no matter its consequences.
It is also quite possible that Solomon had a sexual addiction. Some people have food addictions (chocolate or fatty foods) or entertainment addictions (movies). What does 1 Kings 11:3 tell us which informs us that he might have had a sexual addiction?
Solomon probably had a sexual addiction and allowed that to sway his judgment. I've seen older men who become sexually involved with the "other woman" totally reject their wives and children of many years. They'll do things they would never have done otherwise simply because the woman was able to attach him to herself by means of sex. (How else do you explain the relationship between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and the relationship between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones?) This might have been Solomon's problem.
Regardless the problem Solomon falls not just into apostasy; he falls into great apostasy.
God is so displeased with Solomon's actions that He decides to punish Solomon's dynasty. What punishment is that going to be (11:11-13)?
Why doesn't God completely destroy Solomon's dynasty (11:13)?
Why doesn't God divide Israel into 2 kingdoms while Solomon is alive (11:12)?
If you think that God did not love David because of the Bathsheba affair, then you need to think again because of what God did here. God did not directly punish Solomon because of His love for David. Solomon's son was going to suffer; however, God is not impressed with Solomon and will therefore bring the disaster upon Solomon's son. David though is another matter. Because of David's life Solomon is spared the disaster.
This reinforces the biblical principle that our actions do affect others, both negatively as in the case of Solomon and his son, and positively as in the case of David and his son. The result is that this should encourage us to live for Jesus. May we live lives so pleasing to Christ that He will bless our children FOR OUR SAKES, even if our children mess up royally.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
What is significant about Solomon is not what the apostles SAY about him but about what they do NOT say about him. The wisest man who ever lived, the builder of God's temple, the richest man of his time--and what does the NT say about him? Precious little. It just basically compares his glory to the glory of the lily which outshines Solomon's glory. As bad as David's sin was against Bathsheba and Uriah, the NT still proudly calls David "our father" (Acts 4:25). No such praise is ever accorded to Solomon in the NT. The silence of the NT regarding Solomon is deafening. Solomon gets the praise from the NT he deserves, precious little. In spite of all of David's faults, he never forsook the Lord. The same cannot be said of Solomon.
Whatever else we might need to learn from the story of Solomon's latter years, we especially need to learn the principle of perseverance from this story. Many times we need to remind parents of rebellious children that it ain't over till it's over. Simply because a child/teenager/young adult is being rebellious right now does not mean that he is always going to be rebellious. Give the Lord time to work on that person to change him for the good.
Yet the same saying holds true for the person who starts out well in life. Simply because a person starts out well does not guarantee that he will end well, as the story of Solomon shows. Perseverance is the key. We need to start out well and end well.
Milton Cunningham has been such an inspiration in this area. He's 76 years old and still full of vim and vigor for the Lord. He said that after all these years of serving the Lord, he does not want to stand before the Lord and say that he squandered the remaining years on the golf course or on entertainment. (He's not against golfing or entertainment; he's just against them being the purpose of retirement.)
Because of Milton I've been rethinking my life. I figure that for all practical purposes I have only 12 years left in occupational ministry; however, I still have 27 years left (thinking I'll reach 80 and no more and no less). That's not much time left. God has done some wonderful things in and through me these past 53 years, and I don't want to blow them the last 27 years of my life.
Christians get all bent out of shape over the Book of Revelation. Whatever else that book is about, it is primarily about one thing: the need to persevere. Perseverance is not really an option. When Jesus speaks about the trials which precede His second coming, he says that certain type of person will be saved. According to Jesus what person ultimately is saved (Mark 13:13)?