Tribal Unity Before proceeding to chapter 3, where we begin to get further insight into the personality, life, and kingdom of Solomon, it is necessary to make a final comment regarding King David.
When he died in 970 B.C., he left behind for his successor Solomon
a united monarchy. The twelve tribes had finally been welded
into a cohesive unit. Although occasionally, there were attempts to
rend one tribe from another and to divide the twelve tribes, when David died, the twelve tribes were supportive of King Solomon. This unification was something Saul was never able to achieve. Saul was never able to weld the twelve tribes into a cohesive unit, and it took David the time of his entire monarchy to do so. We know this because even late in his reign, during the rebellion of Sheba, there was a division among the tribes.
Political Compromise It was common practice in those days to make political alliances with surrounding nations by intermarriage among the royal families. This went on prior to the time of Solomon and it continued on down through history into the nineteenth century among some of the European monarchies. It was a form of protection. If the monarchies of different nations were inter-married, it would be logical that there would not be military activity, or conflict between them because they were relatives. God had specifically commanded that Israel was not to join in this practice. But Solomon, in an attempt to expand his kingdom and protect himself, not completely trusting in God to protect Israel from invasion by other nations, especially the powerful nations which surrounded him, began to marry for the purpose of political and military expediency.
First Kings 11:1-2 summarizes this activity:
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the
daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites,
Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning
which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not
go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely
they will turn away your heart after their gods.
This involvement of Solomon in political marriages began his
downfall. First Kings 3:1 records his marriage to the daughter of the
Pharaoh of Egypt. He brought her up to the city of Jerusalem, and kept her there until he finished building his own house and the house of the Lord.
Following David’s death, the people began to drift away religiously
because in verse 2 we read, “the people sacrificed in high places. “ Verse 3 adds that “Solomon loved the Lord... only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. We begin to see as early as I Kings 3, that Solomon is going to be a divided man.
Solomon’s Wisdom Early in his reign, Solomon went up to Gibeon to sacrifice on the altar. God appeared to him and said, “Ask what I shall give thee “ (vs. 5). In verse 9, Solomon made his request, “Give . . . thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people. “ The request so pleased God that He not only granted it, but added, “I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour; so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days” (vs. 13).
God promised to make Solomon the greatest king who ever lived.
There was a stipulation, however. Verse 14 reads: “If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.“ Solomon was beginning to experience the “if-but” relationship which God had earlier given to the entire nation of Israel. The continuance of Solomon’s dynasty over all of Israel would be predicated on Solomon’s obedience. Remember the specifics of the Davidic Covenant, when God told David He would raise up one after him to be His son, and He would be a father to him? However, the stipulation was, “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him.” Solomon would become the first of David’s descendents whom God had to chastise for sin. The same relationship would continue on down through the Messianic line from Solomon to Rehoboam and down through time to the last king, Zedekiah. Each descendent of David who sat on the throne would be chastised for his sins in accordance with the conditions given in the Davidic Covenant.
Solomon’s God-given wisdom was immediately put to the test.
He was approached by two women who both claimed to be the mother of the living infant after the other had died during the night. I Kings 3:28 says that when the Israelites heard of the judgment that Solomon handed down in the case “they feared the king. for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment”.
Building the Temple Chapters 5 through 7 record Solomon’s work of building the temple. Chapter 6:1 is the pivotal verse on which we based our chronology, because it dates the beginning of the construction to Solomon’s fourth year (966 B.C.). Verse 30 says it took seven years to complete the temple, so the completion date was 959 B.C.
Chapter 7:1 is an interesting verse. Solomon, who had taken seven
years to complete God’s house, spent thirteen years to complete his
own house. We again detect that Solomon was a divided man. His
loyalties were divided; his attention to the monarchy was divided; his
attention to spiritual things was becoming more and more divided.
Chapter 9:10 tells us he spent a total of twenty years building the Lord’s house and his own house. That date was 946 B.C. When these two building projects were completed , he had been reigning for twenty-four years. Since he would serve for forty years on the throne, just sixteen years of life were left for him.
Chapter 8 contains the details of the dedication of the temple. At
that time, the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. It
was 487 years old, and the items which had once been placed inside it had been lost except for the two tablets of stone which Moses had placed there. Verse 10 tells us that the shekinah glory filled the house of the Lord. This was an indication that God was pleased with the work which Solomon had done in accordance with the pattern given by his father David.
The formal prayer of dedication, which was given by Solomon,
begins in verse 22. It is a beautiful example of prayer which can be
followed by believers today. I suggest that you read Solomon’s prayer
and study how you can implement his prayer structure into your
personal prayer life.
XXXVIII A FOOLISH WISE MAN
As we look at the latter half of Solomon’s reign, we stand in awe
at the tragedy of lost potential. As it was with David, so it was with
Solomon. He forfeited many of the blessings which God would have
bestowed. I Kings 4:29-34 describes his wisdom and potential.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding... And
Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children
of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he
was wiser than all men.... and his fame was in all nations
round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and
his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees,
from the cedar tree ... even unto the hyssop.... He spake also
of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
Solomon predated Aristotle by six centuries. Although Aristotle categorized flora and fauna in his time, Solomon had done it six hundred years earlier as indicated by the description of his prolific writing on a myriad of subjects.
God Meets With Solomon First Kings 9:1-2 seems to indicate a turning point in Solomon’s life. And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.
God knew that Solomon’s heart was drifting toward apostasy.
Over twenty-four years had gone by and He found it necessary to meet with Solomon again. At this second appearance, God strengthened the restriction of the earlier “if- but” requirement, saying in verses 3-5,
I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication.... I have hallowed
this house, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked ...
then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever.
This was the “if’ clause. The “but” occurs in verses 6-9.
But if ye shall at all turn away from following me. . . .
Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have
given them; and this house ... will I cast out of my sight
... Everyone that passeth by it shall be astonished. . . .
and shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land,
and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they
forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers
out of the land of Egypt.
“This house” was, of course, the temple which Solomon had built
and dedicated. God was giving him a solemn prophecy of what would
happen. The earlier appearance at Gibeon had simply promised
blessing if Solomon were obedient. Now, God reiterated that promise,
but added a stern warning that if he did not obey, God would cut off
Israel and would destroy the temple.
This stern warning of the consequences of Solomon’s sin
had become necessary because his heart was drifting
away from God. The first promise was predicated on obedience.
No warning was necessary at that time. Had Solomon been a man
of an upright heart and continuing fidelity to God, the warning of such
future consequences would not have been necessary.
Solomon had arrived at that place in his life because he was be-ginning to do all “which he was pleased to do.“ He was accumulating
hundreds of wives and they were beginning to steal away his heart
from fidelity to the Lord. God had come and predicted judgment if
Solomon would not obey.
God’s words to Solomon constituted two separate and distinct
prophecies. The first was fulfilled when Israel was cut off from the land in 722 B.C.; the second, when the temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. This chapter is not history, it is prophecy. We know that the events of this chapter took place in 946 B.C. God, the Sovereign of time and history, foretold that Israel would be cut off and the temple would be destroyed.
When we read this pronouncement by God, our minds
should II Samuel 7 and to the earlier promise to David
regarding the seed that would be in existence forever. How
can we equate the threat of Israel being cut off from the land, with the
promise to David that his seed, throne, and kingdom would be established forever? It sounds paradoxical. If Solomon were to fail, how could God cut off Israel from the land and still maintain the integrity of the Davidic Covenant and the integrity of the promise made in Genesis 3:15?
It is necessary now to move ahead sixteen years after this prophecy.
When Solomon died, the kingdom was divided. His son, Rehoboam,
became king in the south over Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam (no relation to Solomon), became king over the ten tribes of the northern
kingdom. From 931 B.C., the date of Solomon’s death, down until 722
B.C. constitutes the period of the divided monarchy. Remember, there were three periods of the monarchy: the united monarchy under Saul, David, and Solomon; the divided monarchy from 931 to 722 B.C., and the period of Judah alone from 722 to 586 B.C.
In order to carry out the threat made to Solomon when he did not
obey, God was forced to divide the kingdom at his death. By dividing
the kingdom and maintaining the integrity of the Davidic covenant
through the southern kingdom, God was able to cut off Israel from the
land in 722 B.C. Because Israel was the northern kingdom, the prophecy made to Solomon that Israel would be cut off from the land was fulfilled in 722 B.C. Israel reaped, in effect, what Solomon had sown. Yet the promises made in Genesis 3:15 and II Samuel 7, continued through the seed of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam, because the southern kingdom was the Messianic line, while the northern kingdom had no relationship whatsoever to the Messianic line.
Thus, God was not on the horns of a dilemma when He was faced
with the prospect of cutting off Israel from the land in respect to the
Davidic Covenant. He had already arranged for that eventuality, and
Solomon received stern warning that judgment loomed on the horizon
if he did not recover himself spiritually and begin to faithfully worship
the God of David his father.
Solomon’s Wealth Chapter 10 provides some indications of the wealth that Solomon had accumulated in fulfillment of the earlier promise made by God when He first appeared to him at Gibeon.
The Queen of Sheba had heard of his kingdom, although she lived in a country fourteen hundred miles to the south. She made the long journey to see it for herself. After she arrived in Jerusalem, and saw the splendor, wealth, and the opulence of the kingdom of Solomon, she had to exclaim, “The half was not told me.“ (vs. 7). She traveled fourteen hundred miles to see it, and it was more than she could ever have imagined.
Prior to the communist takeover, the country of Ethiopia had on
the throne in each generation, a man who claimed to be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The title was carried right down through Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, who used the logo on the fuselage of his airplane. This was because Ethiopian history claims to trace itself back to a child born to the Queen of Sheba and fathered by King Solomon.
That child was the founder of Ethiopia and carried the title as an off-spring of Solomon. Regardless of whether this is history or legend, we know that only one individual can carry the title, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Chapter 10:14 says that Solomon took in 666 talents of
gold in a year. That is about 83,000 pounds. If you have a
calculator handy you can look at the current price of gold, which on this day is about $470.00 per ounce, and see what 83,000 pounds of gold would be worth. Archaeologists have discovered that in the tenth century B.C., in some of the areas where Solomon had His mines, large nuggets could be found on the surface of the ground. Following
the removal of all the surface gold, they had to begin to dig, but they
could still find gold just beneath the surface. However, as they used up that supply, the mines had to go deeper and deeper down into the earth to maintain the amount of gold required for the kingdoms of the world.
Solomon’s Idolatry In chapter 11, we discover that in his later years, Solomon began to worship the idols which his wives had brought in from their respective lands. Verse 3 says he had seven hundred wives. These were his princesses. In addition to these, he had three hundred concubines.
These foreign women turned his heart away from the Lord. “His wives
turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father” (vs. 4).
This verse summarizes the lives of David and Solomon. David’s
heart was with God; Solomon’s heart was partly with God and partly
with the other gods. As David left behind a united monarchy because
he was a united man, Solomon left behind a divided monarchy because he was a divided man. In his later years, he succumbed to the requests of his wives to go and worship with them. They were involved in detestable Baal practices and abominable activities in the worship of Moloch. It is difficult to imagine that Solomon would involve himself in these abominations.
We also see in this verse that David was a measuring rod for all
the kings who would follow. David was a man after God’s own heart.
He was the theocentlic man. From his time onward, kings would be
measured against David in regard to their performance on the throne,
both spiritually and politically.
Verse 7 indicates that Solomon built “an high place for Chemosh, the
abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.“ These detestable idols on the hill east of Jerusalem were used for human sacrifices.
Others suffer when God’s man sins, and Solomon is not excluded
from the tragedy of this phenomenon. The high places that he built in
the latter years of his reign to please his wives, and then to worship on himself, would subvert the spirituality of the people of Israel for the
next three hundred years. Solomon did not sin alone. He was responsible for the spiritual apostasy of three centuries.
How could it be that the man who wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10), the man who wrote so many proverbs and wise sayings, who received a special gift of wisdom from God, who was promised all the riches of the world, who was greater in riches and power and wisdom than any other man who ever lived, fall prey to idol worship and demonic activity? Simply this: Those worship systems that Solomon was involved in were sexually oriented and Solomon was a womanizer of the first magnitude. That was his Achilles’ heel. Hosea picked up on it much later when he said in Hosea 4:11-12, “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.... The spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err.“ Whoredom, or harlotry, was used to refer to the sexual worship system.
It caused one’s reason and logic to become completely confounded and disoriented. That was the tragedy into which Solomon fell.
As those beautiful sensuous women to whom he was married,
asked him to involve himself with them in their worship systems, I am
certain that when he first began, he thought, “God will understand. I
will do it just once.” But as he became more and more involved, verse 8 says, “And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.“ So, for the last few years of his reign he was useless as a king, he was useless to God, and he was consumed with his wives and the sensual worship systems. “
And the Lord was angry with Solomon” (vs. 9), the third time He spoke to
him, and that time His words were only of judgment. He said (vss. 11-13):
I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to
thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it
for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the
hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the
kingdom; but will give one tube to thy son for David my
servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.
The wheels were set in motion for the division of the kingdom, and
the destruction of Israel, so that God could bring to pass the prophecy He had made earlier when He visited Solomon the second time.
Problems Without and Within Immediately following that third visitation, in accordance with His pronouncement in the Davidic Covenant, God began to send the chastening rods of other nations upon Solomon. Verse 14 says He raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. From that point on, Solomon had no rest from his enemies.
At the same time that he was being oppressed by nations from
outside the land, verse 26 tells us that “Jeroboam the son of Nebat . . . lifted up his hand against the king.“ Jeroboam, a revolutionary, was valiant and industrious. When Solomon realized that, he appointed him over all the forced labor in the house of Joseph. As he was leaving the city one day, he met Ahijah the prophet, who had clothed himself with a new garment. Removing his new cloak, he ripped it into twelve pieces and said to Jeroboam, “Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee”. God also counseled patience by indicating that it would take place under Rehoboam’s, not Solomon’s reign. In addition, He gave Jeroboam a promise similar to that which He had made earlier to Solomon, that He would be with him and build him an enduring house as He had for David “if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee” (vs. 38). Finally He added, “And I will afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (vs.39).
We learned as we studied the life of Saul, that he was a very
carnal man. One indication of this was that although he knew David
had been chosen of God to be king of Israel, he sought to put him to
death because he was determined to circumvent God’s program. One
would think that Solomon, being such a wise man, would have turned
his back on Saul’s earlier example. Recognizing God’s sovereignty, he should have repented, confessed his sins, destroyed his idols and high places, and cast himself on the Lord’s mercy; at the same time being submissive to God’s judgment, should it stand, as David was in the matter of Bathsheba’s baby. But Solomon’s heart was not like David’s. Instead, just as Saul had tried to kill God’s anointed, so Solomon tried to kill the man whom God had appointed to take the ten tribes away from him and his descendents. Verse 40 says, “Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam”.
We see from this verse how far adrift Solomon had become spiritually. Jeroboam fled from his presence and took refuge with Shishak, king of Egypt, where he remained until the death of Solomon. The chapter closes (vss. 41-43):
And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and
his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of
Solomon? And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem
over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with
his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father.
and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
When we look at the parallel passages in Chronicles, we see that its
author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was as gracious to Solomon as he was to David, by omitting the apostate years of Solomon’s life.
David and Solomon Compared Comparing David and his son Solomon is an easy task. David was a king in every sense of the word, a monarch after God’s own heart. Solomon, by contrast, was an indulged and sometimes slothful son. Solomon became a man of ease. He could enjoy the good life because he never had to work for anything. David’s life was one of struggle.
He had to fight while in exile from Saul. He had to shed blood to maintain the integrity of his kingdom and house against enemies from within his family, e.g., Absalom; and from outside his family, viz., Sheba. He was accustomed to fighting for everything he had.
Solomon, on the other hand, was born with a silver spoon in his
mouth and lived a life of relative ease. David had fought with his bare
hands; he had killed a lion and a bear, fought and killed the giant; he
had fought with the sword, often against overwhelming odds. Solomon probably never picked up a sword in his life. David knew what it was like not to know where his next meal was coming from. Solomon had never experienced hard times. David had sinned on several occasions, but his heart was tender. He repented and when he was broken, he returned to God. Solomon appears to have been on a continual down-hill slide into spiritual oblivion. He did not repent and turn back to God, and he left behind a divided kingdom.
From the human side, the division was caused by Solomon’s
oppressive hand on the people and the resulting meeting between
Solomon’s son Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the new leader of the northern kingdom. But, there is both a divine and human side to the division.
You recall that because David came out of hard times, he had a very
lean and effective monarchy. On the other hand, Solomon came from
good times and developed an expensive building program which resulted in heavy taxes and conscription of labor. As a result, people began to dislike him and grow rebellious. That bitter spirit then focused on Rehoboam, Solomon’s heir to the throne.
When I study David, and the frugal way he managed his monarchy, I
am reminded of those who came out of the depression. As a result of their want and hardship during those lean years, they have a tendency to never overspend, but to save whatever they can. By contrast, those who never experienced the depression, who grew up in the years of high prosperity and good times, have a tendency to live beyond their means, to charge and use extended payments, and to live above their current income level.
Such was the situation in the kingdom of Solomon. He had a
kingdom the like of which had never been seen, but the cost was heavy, both in terms of money from taxes and manpower from conscription. As a result, when he died, there was a human motivation for the division of the kingdom in fulfillment of God’s earlier prophecy, through Ahijah the prophet, that He would rend the kingdom from Solomon because of his disobedience and apostasy.
In 931 B.C., the kingdom was divided. The legal heir to the throne,
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, reigned over the southern kingdom, afterward called Judah, comprised of Judah and the smaller tube of Benjamin. Jeroboam would be king over the northern ten tribes, afterward called Israel.
For the next two hundred and nine years there would be two nations...Judah and Israel; separate politically, religiously, militarily.