Introduction: Solomon was blessed with greater wisdom and wealth than any other king. But he squandered his blessings through covetousness, licentiousness, idolatry, and rebellion. As a result of his actions, he, his descendants, and all of Israel suffered for generations. From Solomon’s many mistakes, God reveals seven warnings regarding covetousness and rebellion.
First, Solomon violated God’s laws against marrying pagan wives. These pagan wives turned his heart against God. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that covetousness and rebellion will turn your heart against Him. Second, Solomon also violated God’s law against having more than one spouse. He could not satisfy his covetousness and licentiousness and eventually took 1,000 wives. From his mistakes, God reveals that covetousness, licentiousness, and rebellion can never be satisfied by giving into them. Third, Solomon’s pagan wives first led him to build temples to pagan gods. They then led him to worship them. From his mistakes, God reveals that covetousness and rebellion lead to idolatry. Fourth, God promised to judge Solomon and all of Israel for his idolatry. From his mistakes, God reveals that unrepentant covetousness and rebellion lead to His judgment. Fifth, as part of His judgment, God raised up foreign adversaries against Solomon and Israel. From Solomon’s mistakes, God reveals that covetousness and rebellion lead to conflict and strife. Sixth, also as part of Solomon’s judgment, God promised to remove 10 of the 12 tribes from his family inheritance. Israel would enjoy God’s blessing of a united country for only two generations. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that covetousness and rebellion lead to squandered blessings. Finally, Solomon later recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes his regret for squandering his blessings. From his regrets, God reveals that covetousness and rebellion lead only to pain and sorrow.
Solomon violated God’s law by marrying foreign wives. Although God blessed Solomon with wisdom, Solomon disregarded his God-given wisdom to pursue the worldly wisdom of taking foreign wives to build foreign alliances: “1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, ‘You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.’ Solomon held fast to these in love.” (1 Kgs. 11:1-2). In a misguided effort to protect Israel, Solomon used foreign wives to establish foreign treaties. For example, Solomon married a pagan princess from Egypt to prevent a war on his southern border and to increase his wealth: “1 Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.” (1 Kgs. 3:1). Even if Solomon felt wise to follow worldly ways by marrying foreign wives, his actions were foolish and deplorable in God’s eyes. These wives turned his heart against God: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12).
Solomon violated God’s law by taking more than one wife, especially pagan ones1
God’s purity laws for marriage were meant to protect His people. God wanted His people to remain holy and separate from the nations around them (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). To keep His people holy and from turning their hearts away from Him, God prohibited the Jews from marrying any pagan person: “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.” (Dt. 7:3-4). Moreover, in addition to prohibiting marriages with pagans, God also prohibited the Jews from forming covenants with the pagan nations: “12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. . . 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.” (Ex. 34:12, 16). Thus, Solomon’s actions were a double act of disobedience. Moreover, to become king, Solomon would have also made a public vow to uphold the Torah. By breaking his vow before God, Solomon also profaned His holy name (Lev. 19:12). Thus, his actions also violated the Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11) and carried a potential death penalty (Lev. 24:16).
Stay pure for Jesus or Satan will turn your heart against Him. You must also keep yourself pure by keeping yourself separate from non-believers in marriage and business: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnerships have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘and do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:15-18). If you join yourself with non-believers, they will pull your heart from Jesus. Are you guarding your heart? If not, your relationship with Jesus will suffer.
Solomon’s bad example stumbled many others. The prophet Nehemiah later lamented that God’s people had followed after Solomon’s example by marrying foreign women: “25 So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin. 27 Do we then hear about you that you have committed all this great evil by acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?”’ (Neh. 13:25-27). Are you pulling others off their walk by your choices?
Solomon married 1,000 wives or concubines. In addition to violating God’s law against marrying pagan wives, Solomon repeatedly violated God’s law against having one wife: “3 He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. 4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” (1 Kgs. 11:3-4). While Solomon may have sought to justify his foreign wives under the pretext of protecting Israel, there was no excuse for his 1,000 wives. These were nothing more than acts of licentiousness. As king, he showed no restraint and took any pretty women that he saw as his wife or concubine.
Solomon’s decision to marry 700 wives and 300 concubines turned his heart against God2
Solomon violated God’s law against having multiple spouses. There were few laws that Solomon had to follow to serve God. Limiting himself to only one wife was one of them: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). From the beginning, God intended for marriage to be limited to one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4-6; Gen. 2:23-24; 1 Tim. 3:2). Solomon’s marriages violated God’s law 999 times. He further defamed God by allowing non-believers to allege that God must have condoned polygamy because he engaged in this practice.
Solomon modeled his life after the behavior of his father David. As the ruler of Israel, there was no more important role model for Solomon than David. David also disregarded God’s law in this area. Before arriving in Hebron, David had two wives (1 Sam. 25:43). During his seven-year reign in Hebron, he took four additional wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5). David then forced Abner to kidnap his former wife Michal and make her his seventh wife (2 Sam. 3:12-16). After becoming king, David took more wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13-14). He then again showed his disregard for the laws of sexual purity when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2-4). Thus, Solomon modeled what he saw growing up and expanded upon David’s misconduct. Your kids are also looking to you as their role model. What kind of example are you setting for them?
Don’t cause others to stumble with your sins. The mistakes that David and Solomon made should provide a warning to every believer: “David’s lack of romantic and sexual restraint hindered him; it destroyed Solomon. This is one reason why we must be so careful with the sin of stumbling another brother or sister (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8).” (David Guzik on 1 Kgs. 11).3 Are you causing others to stumble from your sins?
Coveting cannot be satisfied by giving into it. No matter how hard he tried, Solomon could not satisfy his licentiousness by feeding it. If one wife did not satisfy Solomon, a thousand wives would not satisfy him either. If he saw only one spouse each night, it would take approximately 2.7 years before he would see that same spouse again. He most likely did not know their names or have any relationship with them. They were mere objects, and he was a prisoner to his cravings of the flesh. The coveting that the devil offers can only be satisfied through more coveting (Heb. 11:25; Lk. 12:19-20). Thus, Solomon later lamented from his own mistakes: “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” (Prov. 27:20; 30:16). “And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.” (Is. 56:11; Hab. 2:5). Giving into your temptations only leads to misery as you are unable to find peace and contentment. Are you giving into your temptations?
Make no provision for the flesh. Paul warns believers not to engage in licentiousness as Solomon did: “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Eph. 2:3). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16). “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Pet. 2:11; Ro. 12:1). Will you abstain from licentiousness and any other evil desires of your flesh?
Solomon’s heart turns from God, and he worships other gods. Solomon’s slow descent into covetousness came with a great cost. He turned from God and began to worship some of the pagan gods that his many wives worshiped: “5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. 8 Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.” (1 Kgs. 11:5-8). God blessed Solomon and confirmed his special calling by speaking with him twice (1 Kgs. 3:5; 9:2). Solomon nevertheless built pagan temples for his foreign wives. He might have initially justified his actions by believing that these temples were just for his pagan wives. He might have even reasoned that he would keep his neighboring pagan nations pleased by allowing his foreign wives to worship their pagan gods. But his act of spiritual compromise would destroy Solomon’s walk as well. His pagan wives soon convinced him to worship the Canaanite god “ashtart,” which the author changed to the Hebrew word “Ashtoreth” for “shame”. (1 Kgs. 11:5). She was their goddess of love and fertility, who was worshiped through temple prostitutes. They also convinced him to worship the Ammonite god Milcom, also known as Molech (1 Kgs. 11:5). This god was associated with the most abhorrent type of pagan worship, the sacrifice of children into fire (Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; Jer. 32:35). Because of Solomon’s actions, the Bible records that his deeds were “evil in the sight of God.” (1 Kgs. 11:6). These same words placed Solomon in the dubious company of the most evil rulers of Israel who either practiced or promoted pagan worship (e.g., 1 Kgs. 15:26, 34; 16:19, 25, 30; 22:52; 2 Kings 3:2; 8:18, 27; 13:2, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:2; 21:2, 20; 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19). Like Solomon, David was a sinner. But he repented of his sins when God or a prophet confronted him (Ps. 32, 51). Thus, after sinning, he never turned his heart away from God for long.
Solomon built altars to pagan gods4
Willem de Poorter (1608-1649) “The Idolatry of King Solomon” (oil painting 1640)5
Like Solomon, unchecked covetousness and rebellion will also lead to your idolatry. God’s First Commandment to His people expressly prohibited them from worshiping other gods: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:2-3; Dt. 5:6-7). While some might see little application between Solomon’s error and their own lives, the First Commandment governs more than the formal worship of a deity. It governs who you serve with your time, talents, thoughts, and treasures. According to the Apostle Paul, you are a slave to whatever you serve: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Jesus also explains that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21; Lk. 12:34). Paul also tells us not to trust in our riches but in the God who provides them: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17). In other words, if your heart is focused on your money, yourself, success, reputation, or licentiousness, that is your “god.” Thus, an atheist, a humanist, a secularist, or a carnal believer are all just as guilty of breaking this Commandment as Solomon when he worshiped pagan gods. Once we understand and accept this, we must come to accept that the First Commandment is both the hardest commandment to obey and the one that we most frequently break. With the struggles and stresses of life, keeping God at the center of your life requires constant effort. Ask God to reveal if your “treasure” is with Him or if it lies in prestige, recognition, work, money, family, lust, or something else. If God is the focus of your life, the struggles and temptations of the world should not overtake you. Yet, if you constantly feed your flesh, like Solomon, through licentiousness and covetousness, sexual things will be your idol.
Solomon also disobeyed God’s command to destroy all pagan altars. Among other acts of rebellion, Solomon built a special pagan worship temple to the Moabite god “Chemosh” and the Ammonite god “Molech” (1 Kgs. 11:7). Like Molech, worship to Chemos frequently included the disgusting use of innocent children as burnt offerings (2 Kgs. 3:27). Prior to the building of the Temple, Moses warned the Jews not to transform Canaanite pagan altars and use them to worship God (Dt. 12:12-13; 1 Kgs. 13:32; Jer. 7:31). Whenever the Jews came across pagan altars, they were ordered to destroy them, not use them: “then you shall . . . destroy all their figured stones . . . and demolish all their high places;” (Nu. 33:52). “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars . . .” (Dt. 12:2-3). Failing to observe this rule would eventually cause the Jews to blend their worship of God with Canaanite pagan practices: “ . . . For on every high hill and under every green tree you have lain down as a harlot.” (Jer. 2:20). Solomon did the exact opposite of what God commanded by building these temples. And these temples would stumble the nation of Israel for generations. King Jeroboam later followed Solomon's example and built altars for idol worship with unauthorized priests: “And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.” (1 Kgs. 12:31). King Manasseh later followed after Solomon’s example and rebuilt pagan altars after King Hezekiah destroyed them: “For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” (2 Kgs. 21:3). Thus, Solomon’s rebellion caused many future generations of Jews to stumble in their walk. Unlike Solomon, you are called upon to destroy any unholy idol in your life.
Like Solomon, Satan lost his love of God through covetousness. Besides the antichrist, Solomon is the only person in the Bible associated with the number “666” (1 Kgs. 10:14; Rev. 13:18). Solomon’s coveting placed him in communion with Satan: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). Like Solomon, Satan broke God’s First Commandment. He loved his own beauty as an archangel so much that he sought to have others worship him (Is. 14:12-14; Ez. 28:14-19). He later tried to tempt Jesus with the world by asking that Jesus worship Satan (Matt. 4:9-10; Lu. 4:7-8). Satan’s tool is deceit: “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” (Dt. 11:16; 30:17). He lied to Eve by promising her that she could become “like God” if she ate from the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:4-5). He also enticed Solomon through deceit. Throughout the Bible, he has always tried to entice God’s people to turn from God by worshiping other gods, idols, or other men (e.g., “Baal” and Ashtaroth - Judges 2:13-15; 10:6-14; Dan. 3:5-18; “the creation” Ro. 1:25). During the end times, Satan will again seek to have others worship him (Rev. 13:8-12). The day of judgment will come after Satan again “exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” (2 Thess. 2:1-4). Solomon’s coveting caused him to fall out of love for God. During the current end times, Satan has also used covetousness, rebellion, and idolatry to cause people to fall out of love with God. Even if you are knowledgeable about the Bible, you could suffer the same fate as Solomon if you don’t take steps to guard your heart for only Jesus.
You cannot have dual allegiances between God and other things. Many people serve God intensely. But our service to God is frequently divided. Once we understand that God will not accept divided allegiances, we realize how frequently we fall short in complying with this commandment: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13). “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 4:4). “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10). “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is god, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word.” (1 Kgs. 18:21; Josh. 24:15). If you seek recognition, wealth, or power for yourself, you are “double minded” in your faith and need to repent.
Coveting is a sin of the heart that leads to more serious sins when left unchecked. Coveting is a sin of the heart that defiles you. Jesus warned: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting . . . and defile the man.” (Mk. 7:21-23). God prohibits coveting because it leads to other more serious sins. Every believer is at times guilty of this sin (Rom. 3:20). Jesus and Paul analogized this sin to yeast, the fastest growing microorganism (Mk. 8:15; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). If you are engaging in small sins, they will not stay small for long. Repent of your sins and turn back to Jesus so that He can forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9).
God judged Solomon for his rebellion. Just as God was faithful to bless Solomon when he was faithful and obedient, He was also faithful to keep His Word to judge Solomon when he rebelled: “9 Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”’ (1 Kgs. 11:9-13). As a consequence for his sins, God warned Solomon that his kingdom would be torn from him and given to his servant (1 Kgs. 11:11). Samuel used this same analogy to tell Saul that his kingdom would be torn from him (1 Sam. 15:27-28). Alijah later tore his garment to symbolize the fulfillment of this prophecy regarding Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:29-39). Yet, to honor His promises to David, God promised that He would not do this while Solomon lived (2 Sam. 7:12-16). Instead, He promised to tear most of Israel from Solomon’s son (1 Kgs. 11:12). Solomon knew that God’s Word always comes true. He would live out his last days knowing that tragedy would fall upon his son and all of Israel soon after his death. He would be left knowing that his mighty kingdom would soon be reduced to a small territory (1 Kgs. 11:13; 12:20). And God would only do this to honor His promises to David.
God warned Solomon that his success depended upon his obedience. Before his death, David warned Solomon that his success as king would depend upon his obedience: “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,” (1 Kgs. 2:3). God also repeated these warnings to Solomon on two separate occasions (1 Kgs. 3:5; 9:2). Solomon was further required to write a personal copy of the law to make sure that he followed it as king: “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.” (Dt. 17:18). Thus, Solomon had no excuse for his disobedience.
God requires His leaders to keep His Commandments to be an example to others. Before his death, David also exhorted Solomon to show himself to be a man of God (1 Kgs. 2:2). As king, Solomon was to live as an example to others. God also commanded that His people follow His commandments: ‘“So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD.”’ (Lev. 22:31). ‘“You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the LORD.’” (Lev. 19:37). Moses also repeated God’s command that the people to obey all of His Commandments and statutes: “So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, . . ..” (Dt. 4:40). “So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, . . .” (Dt. 5:32-33). Joshua also repeated this command before his death: “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,” (Josh. 23:6). In case anyone believes that these are relics of the Old Testament, they are repeated even more often in the New Testament: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24-25). “[F]or it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Ro. 2:13). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22; see also, Rev. 14:12; 22:14). God doesn’t want you to be obedient for the wrong reasons. Out of love (and not the promise of reward) are you being obedient to God’s Word, His Spirit, and His calling in your life?
God’s mercy in allowing Solomon to live. Although God judged Solomon and Israel for his sins, God spared Solomon from death. Under God’s law, the penalty for worshiping other gods is death (Dt. 13:6, 10; 17:2, 6; Ex. 22:20). “It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.” (Dt. 8:19). Thus, God showed that He is merciful by withholding the penalty that Solomon deserved.
Worshiping anything other than God can bring curses to you and your descendants. God will not withhold any good thing from you when you walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11; 19:7). But failing to worship God as He requires will only lead to sorrow and heartache in your life. His anger burned against Israel when they worshiped other gods: “So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel . . .” (Jdgs. 2:13-15). God then removed His blessings and allowed the Jews to be taken into captivity: “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth . . . The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines . . . so that Israel was greatly distressed . . .” (Jdgs. 10:6-14). “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel . . .” (1 Kgs. 9:6-7; Ex. 20:5; Dt. 5:9). False gods will inevitably disappoint. Only worshiping God will give you the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
God judged Israel through adversaries in Edom (Jordan). In addition to bringing judgment upon himself, Solomon’s actions placed all of Israel under God’s judgment. This included judgment through foreign adversaries in Edom: “14 Then the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the royal line in Edom. 15 For it came about, when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army had gone up to bury the slain, and had struck down every male in Edom 16 (for Joab and all Israel stayed there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom), 17 that Hadad fled to Egypt, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, while Hadad was a young boy. 18 They arose from Midian and came to Paran; and they took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house and assigned him food and gave him land. 19 Now Hadad found great favor before Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. 20 The sister of Tahpenes bore his son Genubath, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house; and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh. 21 But when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, ‘Send me away, that I may go to my own country.’ 22 Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘But what have you lacked with me, that behold, you are seeking to go to your own country?’ And he answered, ‘Nothing; nevertheless you must surely let me go.” (1 Kgs. 11:14-22) King Hadad of Edom plotted a revolt against the Jews’ rule in Jordan (1 Kgs. 11:14-18). He sought freedom for his people and revenge for the slaughter of the Edomites under David’s ruthless generals, like Joab (2 Sam. 8:13-14; 1 Chron. 18:12-13). Egypt’s Pharaoh was an alleged ally of Solomon. But Pharaoh let Hadad hide in Egypt and gave him land and a wife to form an alliance once he led his revolt against Israel (1 Kgs. 11:17-22). Thus, Solomon betrayed God to form an alliance with Egypt only to be betrayed by Egypt. Historians have confirmed that an Egyptian pharaoh Shishak (circa 945-924 B.C.) invaded Judah during Rehoboam’s reign (1 Kgs. 14:25-26). Shishak’s invasion confirms that the Bible is true, and God’s wrath against disobedient nations should not be ignored.
God also judged Israel through adversaries in Aram (Syria). God would soon allow adversaries to surround Israel in every direction. This also included Aram in modern day Syria: “23 God also raised up another adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24 He gathered men to himself and became leader of a marauding band, after David slew them of Zobah; and they went to Damascus and stayed there, and reigned in Damascus. 25 So he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, along with the evil that Hadad did; and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Aram.” (1 Kgs. 11:23-25). King Rezon survived David’s defeat of the Aramaeans in two parts of Syria. (2 Sam. 8:3-8; 2 Chron. 8:3-4). King Rezon retook Damascus and refused to pay further tribute to Israel. He later attacked northern Israel (1 Kgs. 15:18; 20:1). His actions showed the futility of Solomon’s worldly wisdom. After Solomon formed alliances through marriages to pagan princesses, God removed His hand of protection from Israel’s neighbors. Without God to protect Israel, the Syrians would later destroy all of northern Israel and take 10 of the 12 tribes captive.
God uses Jeroboam’s evil heart to judge Israel with civil division. After God removed His hand of protection, Israel’s internal divisions reemerged and formed the seeds for its future division into two kingdoms: “26 Then Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also rebelled against the king. 27 Now this was the reason why he rebelled against the king: Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of his father David. 28 Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. 30 Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 He said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes 32 (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), 33 because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. 34 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; 35 but I will take the kingdom from his son’s hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. 36 But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name. 37 I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 Thus I will afflict the descendants of David for this, but not always.’’ 40 Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt, and he was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.” (1 Kgs. 11:26-40). Jeroboam was an Ephrathite and one of Solomon’s servants in charge of taxation and forced labor. He revolted against Solomon until he was banished to Egypt (1 Kgs. 11:26-40). He opposed Solomon when Solomon built a wall to protect Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 11:27). By Jewish tradition, he opposed the use of the forced laborers that he oversaw to do this work. Or, he may have secretly planned to seize power one day and believed that a wall around Jerusalem would make it difficult to seize the capital. His name meant “may the people be great.” He was a populist leader who manipulated the masses for his own lusts. To fulfill God’s prophecy against Solomon, God allowed the evil Jeroboam to lead a revolt that caused Israel to divide into two kingdoms (1 Kgs. 11:11-13; 12:2-19). The prophet Ahijah foreshadowed Israel’s destruction from one nation into 12 tribes by tearing his new garment into 12 pieces. He gave Jeroboam 10 pieces to symbolize his future control over 10 of the 12 tribes. Solomon’s kingdom would soon be reduced to a rump with only the tribes of Judah and one other remaining (1 Kgs. 11:32). (The second tribe was later identified as Benjamin: “He put shields and spears in every city and strengthened them greatly. So he held Judah and Benjamin.” (2 Chr. 11:12)). Moreover, the only reason that God would spare Jerusalem was to honor God’s covenant with David (1 Kgs. 11:32). Through Judah’s tribe, God promised that David would always have a descendant ruling in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 21:17; 1 Kgs. 15:4; 2 Kgs. 8:19). Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise. His Kingdom will have no end (Lk. 1:33).
Solomon tried to keep God’s Word from coming true. Having been told of the prophecy that Jeroboam would divide his great kingdom, Solomon tried to prevent God’s prophecy from coming true by trying to kill Jeroboam: “40 Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; . . .” (1 Kgs. 11:40). Solomon was now no better than Saul. Both rebelled against God. God told both that a servant would take their kingdom from them because of their sins. Instead of using this knowledge to repent, both would try to prevent God’s Word from coming true by trying to kill God’s appointed successor.
Solomon squandered God’s promise and blessing of a great nation. The prophecy of Israel’s division did not take long to come to pass. Israel would be divided soon after Solomon’s death. God allowed Solomon to hear this prophesy to give him a chance to repent. Unfortunately, Solomon ignored this warning until it was too late for Israel. God’s great blessing of a united nation would be squandered after only two generations.
God also gave the 10 tribes a chance to succeed. Although Jeroboam was an evil man, God gave the 10 northern tribes the same conditional promise to succeed that He gave to David. If they kept His Commandments and statutes, they would succeed as a nation (1 Kgs. 2:3-4; 3:14; 11:38). Sadly, every leader of northern Israel was evil and rejected God’s laws. Thus, God revealed that northern Israel would not last forever (1 Kgs. 11:39). The house of David would ultimately rule over all 12 tribes (Ezek. 37:15-28).
Solomon died after a 40-year reign filled with regrets. Although Solomon squandered his blessings, God showed him grace by allowing him to be buried in Jerusalem along with his father David: “41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon and whatever he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? 42 Thus the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David, and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.” (1 Kgs. 11:41-43). Even though Solomon did not deserve it, God also showed grace and faithfulness to His Word by allowing Solomon’s son to be king. Although it is not recorded here, we know from Solomon’s other writings that he died with regrets and sorrow that he misused God’s special blessings to glorify himself.
Solomon’s disobedience likely denied him the blessing of a “prolonged” life. God promised to “prolong” Solomon’s “days” if he walked in God’s ways and kept His statutes and commandments “If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”’ (1 Kgs. 3:14). Solomon is believed to have become king when he was 20 years old and died when he was approximately 60 years old. His reign was also no longer than David’s reign: “The days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: . . .” (1 Kgs. 2:11). This suggests that God did not prolong his life or his reign. His estimated 60-year life is also short in comparison to the great patriarchs of the Bible. Joseph and Joshua both died at age 110 (Gen. 50:26; Josh. 24:29; Jdgs. 2:8). Moses lived until he was 120 years old. (Dt. 34:7-8). Abraham lived until he was 175 years old (Gen. 25:7-8), and Isaac lived the longest until he was 180 years old (Gen. 35:28-29). Thus, through sin, Solomon squandered another potential blessing available to him. If you obey God, He also promises to prolong your days: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). In heaven, you will learn by how much God prolonged your life. It might be for a month, a year, a decade, or longer.
God tested Solomon to show him what was in his heart to allow him to repent. Solomon’s reign lasted 40 years, from 971 to 931 B.C. (1 Kgs. 11:42). This is symbolic of God’s testing. Like Solomon, God will also present you with many tests in your life: “for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). Even the righteous are not beyond God’s testing: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked . . .” (Ps. 11:5; Jer. 17:10). God’s testing and discipline are done out of love (Heb. 12:6). David was a man after God’s heart because he invited God’s testing to show him where he needed to change (Ps. 139:23). Your trials produce perseverance and endurance (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-3). God will test you so that He can reveal your sins, and you can repent of them.
Through God’s testing, Solomon learned that his rebellions showed his evil heart. Before his death, Solomon lamented that rebellion was the sign of an “evil man.” (Prov. 17:11). Rebellion is part of the spirit of “the prince of the power of the air.” (Eph. 2:2). Samuel also said: “. . . rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft . . .” (1 Sam. 15:23). Satan also becomes the father of those who rebel (Jo. 8:44). Is there any rebellion in your heart?
Through God’s testing, Solomon ultimately lamented his covetousness. Solomon acquired incredible wealth and a stronger nation of Israel than would ever exist: “I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;” (Ecc. 2:4). Yet, before his death, he lamented that his actions were wasted vanity. “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Ecc. 1:14-15). Are you chasing after vain accomplishments, wealth, or power?
Solomon learned that all have fallen short and are in need of salvation. Through his mistakes, Solomon learned that all have sinned: “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20). “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9). God spared Solomon from eternal death only out of mercy and to stay faithful to His promise to David: “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:14-15). Paul later quoted from Solomon’s end-of-life revelations to form two of the central tenants of universal sin and the need for salvation (Ro. 3:23).
Solomon learned through his mistakes that wisdom comes from fearing God. Through his many mistakes, Solomon learned that God’s wisdom required fearing Him: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; 2:5). “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” (Ecc. 12:13; Ps. 111:10; 1 Sam. 12:24). Solomon defined the fear of the Lord as “hating” evil (Prov. 8:13). Solomon was the wisest and richest man to ever live (1 Kgs. 3:12, 4:30; 10:23). “I said to myself, ‘Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.”’ (Ecc. 1:16). Yet, without the fear of God, Solomon’s great wisdom, knowledge, and wealth could not prevent him from descending into covetousness, licentiousness, rebellion and idolatry. His life should be a warning to every believer. Unless you cling to Jesus, knowledge, wisdom, and wealth cannot save you from drifting in your walk from Him.