was one of the highlights of Freddy's career as a farmer. For twelve years he
had experimented with new ways to grow vegetables, and after seemingly unending
failures and 'almost' successes, at last he knew that this year would be
different. As the giant machinery moved its way down the long rows of
picture-perfect crops, a great celebration was being planned for that weekend.
The barn was being decorated, the reporter for the county newspaper was being
invited to attend, and nearly everyone in Slogro County was planning to turn
out for the “at last we've made it celebration.”
There was only one
hitch. Freddy had been careless with a deadly chemical that had been used to
work on his tractors; a chemical that was used to treat rust on the wheels and
fenders, but which had to be hosed off carefully, or it would kill anything it
touched. The harvester was successfully reaching out and taking in the
beautiful vegetables, that was no problem. The problem was that, unknown to
Freddy, even as he was harvesting a winner, he was sowing seeds of poison that
would ultimately ruin next year's crop. For into the soil where the new seeds
would be planted was flowing a steady measure of death. So even while he was
celebrating success, he was destroying his future.
The principle involved
in that story is the stark reality of how tiny compromises can take a time of
apparent jubilation and even while the celebration is going on,
unknowingly allow the seeds of death to form. What a tragedy to be celebrating
life, while you are implementing death. Our Living Legend of the hour, a man
named Solomon, falls into that dubious category as his life turns a major
corner, and his moment of triumph leads him down a path that ultimately will
turn victory into defeat.
When last we left our
legend, it was celebration time. For twenty years, he had labored, first
to build the temple, then to build his own palace. His life, characterized by
affluence and accomplishment, had become preoccupied with achieving those two
worthy goals. He had been, so to speak, made chairman of the Board of Deacons
during a building fund drive, and his one driving goal became to be the
best and do the best at what he had to do. On the surface, he succeeded.
But as our opening illustration indicated, even while he was celebrating, he
was sowing seeds of poison that would ultimately destroy his entire kingdom.
These kinds of lessons are neither pleasant to teach nor to hear. But the issue
isn't whether or not it is pleasant.
The issue is whether it
is truth. And God seems to have sprinkled the Scripture with warning after
warning in the form of biographical sketches of his greats depicting the truth
that the highway to success is paved with subtle detours that, in essence, are
nothing more than dead ends. How to avoid those detours seems to be a major
theme in Scripture. We certainly have such a theme today. We will conclude our
study of Solomon, (and temporarily, our look at life's living legends) in our
next study, with what will hopefully be a more positive look at life. But for
now, we must take the Word where it is, as it is, and it is in I Kings,
Chapters 9,10, and 11, where Solomon, man of wealth, man of wisdom, and
success, tries to cope with all of his greatness. What we find, according to
Chapter eleven, verse 4, is that "As Solomon grew old" he laid aside
the reasons for his greatness in order to enjoy the temporal fruits
of his greatness. The results are sad. They always are.
I- One More Word (That
Will Not Fail)
In our last study, we
took what I pray was an encouraging look at one of the most basic principles in
all of Scripture, the principle of the integrity of the Word of God. Our
conclusion was delightful. It was this: There hath not failed one word of
all that He hath promised. Not one time in all of history has God ever
said anything that was not true. Not one time in all of history has God ever
promised anything that He did not do. There hath not failed one word.
The encouraging aspects of that promise came through in great measure, because
the promises were promises of God's blessings that were being claimed and named
before the Throne of Grace. God had promised David that his son would rise to
the throne, rise to greatness, and build the temple that David had so longed to
see constructed. And the Word we so loved was Solomon's dynamic anthem of
praise at the conclusion of the building of the temple when Solomon proudly
proclaimed ''There hath not failed one word.''
So the message was and
is God keeps His Word! Now I need not remind you, that one of the
cardinal dangers of the Christian movement is its tendency toward extremes. And
in the case of the promises, the same thing holds true; I realize that those
with certain spiritual gifts, for instance, are more likely to respond to the
positive side of God's nature, while those with other gifts will respond more
quickly to the negative side. What we must always seek to do, however, I
believe, is to KEEP THE BALANCE! It will be your job to assist me in seeing
that we do not drift off to either extreme. We must ever maintain that balanced
portrait of God that is etched so indelibly in Scripture.
He is perfect
righteousness married to perfect grace. He desires to give us all of the
grandeur of the Heavenlies, but He has also made certain loving demands of us, so
that we will not trample His Holiness under foot. He will never leave us or
forsake us‑ that is true. But He will discipline us, if we flagrantly
abuse or presume upon His grace. These Old Testament portraits of disobedience,
then, are not to cause us to tremble in fear that we live under the divine
wrath of God as believers, God forbid. They do, however, serve as fit reminders
that, even as God's beloved children, the laws of sowing and
reaping still prevail.
In today's story,
Solomon, fresh from reminding the people of the veracity of God's great
promises, receives a long-distance call from Heaven and hears God whisper yet
another promise, this time, a conditional promise, and Solomon should have
realized that if God's promises of blessings ALWAYS come true, should not His
promises of judgment ALWAYS come true, as well?
The passage begins
where we left off in our last study, in I Kings. We will be reading from the
New International Version. (I Kings 9)
1 When Solomon had
finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved
all he had desired to do,
2 the LORD appeared
to him a second time, as he had appeared at Gibeon.
3 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.
4 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,
5 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.'
6 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.
8 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?'
9 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.''
Now we have already
established that “not one word of God's would ever fail”. It ought,
therefore, to be perfectly clear that God was not playing games with Solomon.
Let's look quickly at the key elements of this statement:
1- God appeared to
Solomon at the most vulnerable time in his life to clarify the choices that
were before him. It
says “when Solomon had finished building the temple and the palace and had
achieved all he had desired to... the LORD appeared again.”
Solomon had done what
Solomon had been called to do. After twenty long years of laboring and waiting,
a gigantic celebration had marked the finishing of the task, and the whole
nation returned to their homes filled with joy and gladness. What a dangerous
time for the flesh to move in and take over. What a perfect time for Satan to
whisper in Solomon's ear ''welcome to the GNY Club.'' GNY stands for ''God
needs you''. Beloved, the accomplishment of a great task in the Kingdom ought
to be a time of great humility and awe at who God is; but beware, the enemy
would like to translate it into a time of spiritual pride, or spiritual apathy.
God knew about the problem, so at this very vulnerable time, God spoke to
2- God reminded
Solomon that He had kept His Word. It is appropriate whenever God has moved
and a task is completed, to stop and remember that it is the Word of God
that hath not failed... not the works of man.
3- God gives Solomon
and the people of Israel a clear choice. One of the most startling truths
ever spoken about God is the truth that He never leaves us in doubt as to what
He wants, and as to what the consequences are of our either obeying or
disobeying. God is clear in His utterances perfectly clear. In this case, the
statement couldn't be misunderstood no matter who was reading or hearing,
certainly not misunderstood by King Solomon. The statement was this:
Solomon, you and your
people have a choice:
1- Obey me and walk in
integrity as David did... or
2- Turn away from me
and follow after the gods of this world.
Not only that, Solomon,
but each of those choices have ensuing consequences.
IF YOU OBEY... I will
establish your throne over Israel forever.
IF YOU DISOBEY...
1- I will cut off
Israel from the land
2- I will reject this
3- Israel will become
the laughingstock of the nations
4- When the scoffers
ask 'why has God done such a thing to his people, they will answer: “because
they have forsaken the LORD, embraced other gods, and are worshiping and
Now that is about as
clear an admonition as God could give. Here are the choices; here are the
consequences of the choices; and here is how those choices will affect not only
you, but also the unbelieving world who looks at you as God's anointed. You say
“you ignorant Israelites; how could you miss such a clear warning.” I believe
God would have us look at our own track record, lest we be overcome by the moat
in our brother's eye. But the issue, at least in retrospect, was clear as a
bell. So be it.
4- Finally, God was
saying to Solomon... remember, not one Word I have spoken has ever failed.
If these are God's alternatives, and these are the consequences of those
choices, you had better engrave it in concrete, GOD WILL KEEP HIS WORD.
He won't come to the day of reckoning and say, ''Aw, gee, they meant well, they
just happened to worship a few other gods.'' No, God warns clearly before,
waits patiently for repentance, but when the axe falls, it falls. GOD
WILL KEEP HIS WORD.
II- Solomon In All His
So the issue is clear;
God has spoken. Now we move into the section of the passage that pulls back the
curtain of the palace to reveal a portrait of the kind of man Solomon had
become, and the kind of life Solomon was living. (We find that description in
1- Solomon had adopted
the world's kind of political leverage. With all the affluence
he possessed, he was still trying to get the best deal possible even at a
friend's expense. We read in verses 10-14 that he made a deal with Hiram, the
one whose bilateral treaty had made possible the building of the temple, and in
exchange for part of that trade agreement, he gave Hiram ten cities. Hiram came
over, looked the cities over, and said, ''Hey, King Kong, what kind of deal is
this?'' These are the culls...the dregs... So we read in verse 13 that Hiram
nicknamed the towns, “Cabul” meaning ''good for nothing'', and gave them
back... It was a ''thanks, but no thanks'' kind of package.
2- We read in verses
20-22 that he had taken all the unbelievers who were left in the land and
turned them into slaves, putting them to work
at hard labor on the temple, on the palace, and on the wall.
3- He didn't make
slaves of the Israelites, but he forced them into service,
either in the military, the civil service, or the cavalry. (verse 22-25)
4- He used Hiram's
expertise to develop a navy, which he would use to sail the seas in search of
treasures for the king, and which apparently gave him greater control over the
coastlines of his kingdom. (verse 26-28)
So Solomon had become the head of the most
influential, most powerful, most affluent nation in the world. Kings and
princes around the globe marveled at his greatness and coveted his wisdom. The
very mention of his name spelled out a portrait of a man so wealthy, so
powerful, so ostentatious in his appearance, that nothing short of the word
“glory” could be used to describe his majesty. Jesus, in Matthew, chapter six,
speaking of the grandeur of God's provision, and using the lilies of the field
and their beauty as a breathtaking example, reached back to old testament for
an illustration...and searching for the most glorious thing they could relate
to, added, “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” Solomon
in all his glory... No other phrase could so capture the opulence, the
magnificence, the worldliness of this man and his empire.
III- What To Do When A Queen Comes To Call!
With all of this background of the splendor and
power that Solomon possessed, comes an interesting story that has, in the
process of time, become somewhat of a legend of sorts...although fact has been
mixed with fiction as the legend has evolved. The story is the tale of the
visit to Solomon of the Queen of Sheba, and it unfolds for us in I Kings 10
reads like this,
1 When the queen of
Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD,
she came to test him with hard questions.
2 Arriving at
Jerusalem with a very great caravan-with camels carrying spices, large
quantities of gold, and precious stones-she came to Solomon and talked with him
about all that she had on her mind.
all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.
4 When the queen of
Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built,
5 The food on his
table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his
cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was
6 She said to the
king, 'The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your
wisdom is true.
7 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
8 How happy your
men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and
hear your wisdom!
9 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.'
10 And she gave the
king 120 talents of gold (about 4 1/2 tons), large quantities of spices, and
precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen
of Sheba gave to King Solomon.
11 (Hiram's ships
brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood
and precious stones.
12 The King used
the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal
palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has
never been imported or seen since that day)
13 King Solomon
gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had
given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue
to her own country.
history has some interesting postscripts to this story, but whether or not any
of them are true, remains to be seen. Without question, the Queen of Sheba has
captured the imagination of men for 3,000 years. She lives on in literature,
music, and art. Not just a little of her fame is linked to this Biblical
account of her visit to Solomon, and many of the accounts include, to say the
least, great questions about some hypothetical romantic involvement that
supposedly took place between the King and the Queen.
As to where the kingdom of Sheba, from whence
she came, was located, even that is shrouded with mystery, though most scholars
seem to be satisfied that it was located somewhere in southwestern Arabia on
the east shore of the Red Sea. As to the reason for her visit, most scholars
seem to be satisfied that she came primarily with commerce on her mind, though
not a little curiosity seemed to exist about this incredibly wise king and his
affluent empire. Archaeological findings reveal the kingdom of Sheba to have
had a highly developed culture supported by a lucrative trade in frankincense
and myrrh (gum resins extracted from the bark of trees).
Whatever the reason for the queen's visit, the
story seems to have been embellished through the years. She has been
characterized as everything from an alluring temptress to an evil sorceress.
The Ethiopian version of the legend of Solomon
and Sheba can be traced to a compilation of a writing entitled ''The Glory of
the Kings'', done by a monk in the 14th century, and apparently designed to
establish Ethiopia as the logical heir to Israel's territory. This account has
been depicted in sheepskin drawings, copies of which can be found even today.
The story indicates that Solomon was so awed by the Queen's beauty that he was
determined that she bear his child, and further states that she agreed, with
certain stipulations. Supposedly she returned to her country, later bore a son,
whom she called “Menelik”, or “son of the wise man”. The story goes on that
this son, when grown, visited Solomon, studied the Hebrew faith, and was later
anointed King of Ethiopia. For centuries, Ethiopian royalty has boasted of this
link. In fact, the 1955 revised constitution of Ethiopia specifically stated
that “the royal line descends without interruption from the dynasty of Menelik,
the son of the Queen of Ethiopia, the queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of
Jerusalem.” The mere timing of this story seems to be in direct contradiction
to Scripture, however, and it appears to be more the figment of someone's
historical imagination, than an accurate account of an actual event.
The visit itself, however, is recorded in great
detail in our Bibles, and so we cannot ignore those portions of the saga that
are specifically inscribed in the written Word. Since no Scripture is of any
private interpretation, what is told there is not only true, it is
important. Therefore, in passing, we must consider it.
Perhaps the greatest meaning we can derive from
its inclusion in the canon of Scripture can be summed up in these brief
1- Even as the ruler of an unbelieving nation,
she had heard so much about Solomon's great wisdom, she traveled miles just
to pose some questions for the Monarch to answer. (verse 1)
2- She came peacefully, bearing large quantities
of gold, precious stones, and the spices for which her nation was famous.(verse
3- She came with HARD QUESTIONS, that is
she did not pose simplistic hypothetical issues as a guise to get his
attention. She seemed to have REAL questions that had been thought through.
(verses 1, 3)
4- Solomon answered ALL of them to her
satisfaction; nothing she asked posed a problem for the wise man. (verses
5- She was not only impressed with Solomon's
wisdom, she was impressed with the grandeur of his kingdom; the obvious
affluence was beyond her comprehension. (verses 4-7)
6- She assumed that living in that environment
was tantamount to happiness. In verse 8 she assumed that Solomon's men, his
officials, and his cupbearers were happy just to be there.
7- She gave the glory to God. (verse 9)
“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.”
8- She unloaded on the king... literally
4 1/2 tons of gold, and an unknown quantity of other goods. Solomon, in turn,
offered her anything she wanted that he had... and she took a bountiful
supply and headed for home (verse 10)
One thing is for sure. She came, curious about
Solomon and his God. She left convinced that Solomon's God had an answer for
her every question, and that He indeed was the true King of Israel. That, in
itself, is sufficient reason for recording the story.
IV - As Solomon Grew Old (Five Steps to
Now the queen rides off into the sunset, and
the next 30 or so verses speak volumes to us about the heart of God's man at
this stage of his life. Here was a man destined by God for greatness, who had
received more and achieved more in his young life than nearly any man who had
ever lived. Wiser than all men was he. Richer than all men was he. More
powerful than all men was he. He had everything a man could ever dream of; all
of it a gift from God!
Now, in the ensuing passages of Scripture, God
outlines for us what I believe can aptly be characterized as five steps to
spiritual suicide. Solomon, at the height of his career, the applause of the
masses still ringing in his ears, now proceeds to move with clocklike precision
down the road to spiritual ruin. As the opening illustration indicated, even as
he was celebrating victory, he was sowing the seeds of ultimate defeat.
In essence, it was Solomon's arithmetic that
did him in. What he did was this: He multiplied treasures; he multiplied
horses; he multiplied wives; and he multiplied gods, until ultimately, he
divided the kingdom. Make no mistake about it, that's satanic mathematics.
But while those were the overt steps he took,
it was the principles behind those steps that we have cause to look at
carefully in this lesson. Solomon violated five basic Biblical instructions in
his zeal to perpetuate his hold on the kingdom, and to assure his continued
prosperity and pleasure.
Now mind you, God had warned him... maintain
the integrity of your heart and success cannot help but be yours!... violate
God's holiness and go after other gods... and you and your kingdom will
disappear just as miraculously as it came into being. Look at what Solomon
did to lose the favor of God:
Step #1- He became obsessed with that which was
Solomon invested his life in things, rather than in people. The end result was
that he was literally consumed with that which he knew according to his own
writings, could not satisfy. Nonetheless, though he knew better, his
insatiable hunger for possessions dominated his later years.
14 The weight of
the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents,
15 not including
the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the
governors of the land.
16 King Solomon
made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went
into each shield.
17 He also made
three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each
shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.
18 Then the king
made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold.
19 The throne had
six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were
armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them.
20 Twelve lions
stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had
ever been made for any other kingdom.
21 All King
Solomon's goblets were gold, and the household articles in the palace of the
Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver
was considered of little value in Solomon's days.
22 The king had a
fleet of trading ships at sea, along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three
years it returned carrying gold, silver, ivory, and apes and baboons.
23 King Solomon was
greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.
24 The whole world
sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.
25 Year after year,
everyone who came brought a gift-articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons,
and spices, and horses and mules.”
In direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:17, which
specifically states that no king over Israel shall ever “greatly multiply to
himself silver and gold,” Solomon deliberately set about to accumulate
wealth beyond comprehension. The reason for God's warning was obvious. It was
not that He deplored riches. It was God Himself who made both David and Solomon
men of such untold wealth. It was not that. Nor was it that He did not want His
leaders to be wise stewards over the physical possessions He had given them.
Obviously not. What God did not want was for those He placed in authority to ever
allow the making of money or the possessing of things to possess them;
for He knew that once they became consumed with the accumulating of the things
of this world, the things of the Spirit would cease to be paramount, and it
would only be a matter of time until spiritual ruin would overtake the nation.
It was God who made Solomon rich; but it was Solomon whose quest to multiply
that wealth at the expense of higher priorities who robbed God of the Glory
those riches were intended to bring.
Step #2- having multiplied and magnified his
temporal possessions, Solomon began to multiply horses...and in the process, he
demonstrated that gradually he had begun to put his confidence in the
strength of the flesh. Verse 26 continues with Solomon's second step to suicide.
It says this:
accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve
thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in
28 Solomon's horses
were imported from Egypt and from Kue, the royal merchants purchased them from
29 They imported a
chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred
and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and
Isn't it interesting how God in His mercy can
take us in our state of utter weakness and helplessness, and in spite of us
give us the power to overcome the enemy? And isn't it interesting how subtly we
then begin to put our confidence in the vessels God has used, rather than in
God Himself? Once more, Solomon had violated the clear word of God. Now let's
go back to Deuteronomy 17 again, where God, knowing the density of the human
mind when operating in the flesh, spelled the issue out so clearly that anyone
who dared to look would know His will. It says this: (Deuteronomy 17:14)
14 When you enter
the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and
settled in it, and you say, 'Let us set a king over us like all the nations
15 Be sure to
appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your
own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother
16 The King,
moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the
people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD hath told you... “you
are not to go that way again”.
Or as the King James version words it... ''He
shall not multiply horses to himself.'' Why? Because God knew that the end
result of a king who has become obsessed with his natural power... is that He
will lose sight of his supernatural power. That's why some of us are
more effective when our own strength is gone... because the greater our need,
the greater our dependence. Solomon first of all determined to focus his eyes
on that which was temporal, then he subtly began to trust in that which the
flesh could do. Can you relate?
Step #3- Having taken his eyes off of spiritual
values and having begun to place his confidence in the flesh, Solomon took the
next step down the road to spiritual suicide. He discarded Biblical
absolutes as irrelevant. And it happened in an area where compromise
had been a way of life since early in his reign. In fact, it had become so
commonplace, he apparently had forgotten it was sin.
11:1 King Solomon,
however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter‑ Moabites,
Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
2 They were from
the nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, 'You must not
intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after other
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
to Deuteronomy 17 again, verse 17..God's specific steps of warning to
He must not take many
wives, or his heart will be led astray.
The King James translation puts it,
neither shall he
multiply wives to himself; that his heart turn not away.
Nehemiah 13:23-27 writes a sad epitaph for
Solomon's grave. There the prophet, challenging boldly those who dared to defy
God by marrying unbelieving mates, makes this arresting statement:
''Did not Solomon, King
of Israel, sin by these things? ...shall we then hearken unto you to do all
this great evil... to transgress against our God in marrying strange
God's warning against taking many wives, and
God's warning against intermarrying with heathens were both couched in words of
uncompromising candor. With God it was not a matter of, ''if they would lead
the believer astray,'' it was a matter of when. It was a fore drawn conclusion
from God's perspective that God's man or woman marry only a believer, or
he or she would be flagrantly trampling underfoot the concept of unequal yoking
and thus be dramatically denying the portrait God was painting on earth of life
in heaven. So not only did God command His children never to do that, He
specifically warned those who would rule over them that it would be to the ruin
of their kingdom to violate that principle.
No King ever violated that precept with more
fervor than Solomon. Sooner or later it had to catch up with him. Apparently,
in his earlier years, when the building of the temple and his house were so
paramount in his mind, Solomon was able to maintain a degree of devotion to God
in spite of his heathen wives. Not so as the dust settled from his religious
activity, and the hue and cry for compromise began to haunt him at every turn.
For we read in the next verse, I Kings 11,
4 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.
As Solomon grew old... what a tragic phrase. As
Solomon grew old... in the years when the harvest of spiritual blessings sown
in the years of his strength ought to have overtaken his life and given him the
comfort and joy God's man or woman anticipates in the golden years of
life....As Solomon grew old... instead, he reaped the bitterness of those drops
of poison he had allowed to flow into the soil, even as the harvest of God's
blessings was pouring into his storehouse.
As Solomon grew old his wives turned away his
heart and he was not fully devoted to God.
Step #4- So now comes step four down the road
to spiritual suicide. Solomon, having turned his eyes toward the temporal,
having begun to trust in his own strength, having discarded Biblical absolutes
as though he were immune to the consequences, now enters the enemy camp. He
denies the Holiness of a Jealous God, and determines that it is not EITHER
JEHOVAH OR THE GODS OF THIS WORLD, IT CAN BE JEHOVAH AND......
Once you have reached that stage, it's all
over. He did things he would have sworn in a court of law a year before he
would never do. You see compromise blinds us to consequences.
5 He followed
Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the
6 So Solomon did
evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David
his father had done.
7 On a hill east of
Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab,
and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
8 He did the same
for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their
Solomon now overtly shakes his fist in the face
of a holy God who has been his very life...who has rescued him from
nothingness and exalted him to greatness...who has taken an average mind and
infused it with godly wisdom until kings and queens the world over traveled to
tiny Israel just to see what the God of the Jews could do through His king.
Step F#5- God had to do two things. He had to
remove the mantle of authority from Solomon's shoulders, and He had to allow
his enemies to triumph over him. Jehovah had no choice. He had given His word...
and there hath not failed one word... remember? So begins the tragic
postscript to the story.
9 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.
10 Although He had
forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord's command.
11 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
14 Then the LORD
raised up against Solomon an adversary...
a sad ending to a story that had such great promise. Just when it seemed
Solomon was enjoying the fruits of his years of labor, there began to appear in
the garden of his life evidence of deadly weeds that had sprung up; weeds that
were the result of little grains of poisonous compromises that he had sown
along the way. When all of life should have begun to make sense; when the
accolades of the world and the blessings of God seemed to all be falling in
Solomon's camp... “As Solomon grew old”, he missed it.
Mind you, he didn't set out to defy God. But in
the midst of his prosperity, his values changed. In the midst of his success,
his confidence shifted; and at the time when his miraculous wisdom seemed to
indicate that spiritually he had arrived, he took liberties with the Word of
God. Having taken liberties and tasted no immediate consequences, he quietly
began to wrongly assume that either a Holy God had a special set of rules
for him, or the Word of God, not ONE WORD OF WHICH HAD EVER FAILED, had
somehow become null and void.
It was not a singular, spontaneous choice. It
was a gradual drifting away from the basics. It was a subtle discarding of his
first love. It was the gradual merging of the concepts of the world with the
precepts of the Word. It was one long, continual act of self-justification that
suddenly found him actually worshiping in the enemy camp as though it were
the normal thing to do.
At this point, a loving, caring, patient God
had had enough. And there arose from out of nowhere in this kingdom known for
its peace, evil adversaries whose singular objective it was to destroy that
kingdom. A weeping, grieving God withdrew His hand of protection; the hand that
had sustained that peace and allowed the enemy to have his way. Now Solomon
could rely on his riches. Now Solomon could trust in his horses. Now Solomon
could find solace in his wives. Now Solomon could call on the pagan gods to
whom he had erected those abominable altars. Now Solomon could rely on the
things he had deliberately substituted for the power of God. In fact, now
Solomon HAD to!
As Solomon grew old, he had to live with the
choices he had made.
And so will we!
1- Compare what God said to Solomon in! Kings
9:6 with what He said to Moses in Deuteronomy 4:23-28. What has been the common
thread throughout all of Scripture where God’s “jealousy” has been concerned?
Why were the consequences always so devastating? Can you think of a modern
parallel to this violation of “serving other gods”?
2- Did God, in fact, divide the kingdom? When?
3- Did god, in fact, make Israel to become a
reproach among the nations? When?
4- Read Jeremiah 22:5-9. Does the question in verse
8 ring a familiar sound? Does the answer in verse 9 follow the same pattern?
5- Is the time just after a great victory a
vulnerable time for a Christian? Why? Can you think of a time in Elijah’s life
that parallels this time in Solomon’s?
6- Why do you think the queen of Sheba came to
visit Solomon? What do you think impressed her the most? How did it affect her
concept of Solomon’s God?
7- Can you name the five steps to spiritual
suicide? What modern day attitudes and activities parallel these steps?
8- Examine your own life for any seeds you may
be sowing that could one day reap a harvest of bitterness as you grow old? And
take the appropriate steps to deal with those compromises now.