Introduction: After Solomon built the Temple to worship God, God blessed Solomon with great wealth and power. God also gave Solomon a conditional warning regarding His blessings and His curses. Solomon’s wealth and power would later cause him to ignore many of God’s warnings. From God’s words to Solomon and Solomon’s mistakes, God reveals seven lessons on maintaining your walk with Him. These include: (1) having faith, (2) obedience, (3) integrity, (4) avoiding compromise, (5) trusting God, (6) staying separate, and (7) avoiding covetousness.
First, God promised Solomon that He would bless him if Solomon faithfully followed Him. From God’s promise, He reveals that a Spirit-led leader has faith to follow His Word. Second, God warned Solomon that disobedience could result in progressively severe punishments. From God’s warning, He reveals that a Spirit-led leader is obedient to Him and His Word. Third, the pagan King Hiram served both David and Solomon. Solomon took advantage of Hiram and sold him 20 non-productive cities in the Promised Land at an inflated price. Solomon’s actions dishonored God. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that a Spirit-led leader represents God’s light through integrity and honest dealings with others. Fourth, Solomon employed the pagan Canaanites as slave labor to build his many fortresses and other projects. The Canaanites would later lead the Jews into idolatry. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that a Spirit-led leader does not compromise in his or her walk. Fifth, Solomon taxed the Jews and conscripted them to form a large army. Solomon tried to deter foreign invaders with his own strength. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that a Spirit-led leader places his or her trust in God, not in his or her own strength. Sixth, Solomon kept his pagan Egyptian queen in a separate residence and observed three yearly feasts to God. His separation initially helped him to uphold his worship. Solomon would soon forget the importance of separation. His other foreign wives would live with him and corrupt him. He would then build pagan temples for these wives to worship other gods. From Solomon’s mistake, God reveals that a Spirit-led leader keeps his or her worship separate and holy. Finally, Solomon built a navy to accumulate large sums of gold from foreign lands. This would cause Solomon to covet wealth and women. From Solomon’s mistakes, God reveals that a Spirit-led leader does not give into covetousness.
God’s conditional promise to Solomon. After God’s Shekinah glory had entered the completed Temple and Solomon gave a prayer of dedication (1 Kgs. 8:22-53), God appeared to Solomon and promised to bless Solomon and his descendants if they remained faithful and obedient: “1 Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all that Solomon desired to do, 2 that the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 4 As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kgs. 9:1-5). These events took place approximately 24 years after Solomon became the King of Israel. At a prior time when Solomon made many sacrifices and brought the nation to repentance at Gideon, God asked Solomon to name a request for God to fulfill (1 Kgs. 3:4-5). Because Solomon only asked for wisdom, God granted him both the wisdom that he asked for and wealth and power that he did not ask for (1 Kgs. 3:10-14). God was pleased that Solomon used his wealth and power to build a great place of worship and made it holy (1 Kgs. 9:3; 8:10; 1 Chr. 7:1-7). God praised Solomon for putting “My name there forever.” (1 Kgs. 9:3). Although mankind would destroy Solomon’s earthly temple, God will dwell forever in His similar eternal Temple (Is. 2:1-4; Zech. 14:16; Rev. 21:1-2). As a reward, God confirmed for the second time His conditional promise to Solomon and his descendants. God previously promised that His blessings were contingent upon their faith-led obedience: “11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon saying, 12 ‘Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father. 13 I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.”’ (1 Kgs. 6:11-13). God also made a similar conditional promise to David (2 Sam. 7:12-16). God’s conditional promises to Solomon also repeated the conditional promises of blessing that He gave to Moses (Dt. 28:1-14; Lev. 26:1-13).
God speaks to Solomon1
God’s conditional promise required a contrite heart, not perfection. God used David as an example for what He expected of Solomon: “As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances,” (1 Kgs. 9:4). This might sound surprising to anyone who has studied David’s life. David violated at least seven of God’s Ten Commandments. First, by lusting after his neighbor Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, he violated God’s Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Second, by repeatedly giving into his lusts of his flesh, he made an idol out of attractive women and violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-5; Dt. 5:8-9). Third, by sleeping with a married woman, he violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Fourth, he violate God’s Sixth Commandment against murder when he killed Uriah (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Fifth, by engaging in lies and deceit to cover up Uriah’s murder, he violated God’s Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Sixth, with both Bathsheba and his other wives’ and concubines, he violated God’s law against a king having more than one wife: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). He further violated God’s purpose of marriage by joining himself together by more than one other person (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). To become king, he would have made a public vow to uphold the Torah. By repeatedly breaking his vow before God, David also profaned His holy name. He was not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God.” (Lev. 19:12). Thus, his actions also violated the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Finally, as God’s appointed king, David violated the Fifth Commandment by dishonoring his heavenly Father. “Honor your father. . .” (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Even if he only broke one Commandment, he would have broken them all: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (Jam. 2:10). David came to appreciate and write psalms about God’s mercy and grace only after God showed him his sins. David was a man after God’s heart (Act 13:22) not because he was perfect. Instead, he was a godly man because he later repented of his many sins and changed his ways each time God confronted David: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). God wants you to avoid sinning: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48). Yet, He knows that you will sin. What He cares most is that you repent and turn back to Him each time you sin so that He can forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9).
21 specific blessings in the Torah for those who are faithful and obedient to God. In the four books of the law, God reveals at least 21 specific blessings for those who are faithful and obedient to Him. These blessings are unrelated to Jesus’ blessings of eternal salvation. In Exodus, God revealed at least three conditional blessings that come from faithful obedience. These include: (1) protection from diseases (Ex. 15:26); a prolonged life (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16, 32-33; 4:40; 6:1-2; 12:28; 22:6-7; 25:13-16; Lev. 18:5; Eph. 6:2-3); and (3) God’s holy presence (Ex. 40:34-35). In Leviticus, God revealed seven other conditional blessings that He may use to bless a person or a nation for obedience. These include: (1) provision (Lev. 26:3-5); (2) peace (Lev. 26:6); (3) protection (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22); (4) fertility (Lev. 26:9); (5) abundance from giving (Lev. 26:10; Ps. 92:12-14; Mal. 3:10-12); (6) guidance (Lev. 26:11-12; Ps. 32:8); and (7) freedom (Lev. 26:13; Ex. 20:2). In Deuteronomy, He revealed 10 other conditional blessings. These include: (1) exaltation for the nation (Dt. 28:1-2); (2) exaltation for the individual within the nation (Dt. 28:1-3); (3) growth (Dt. 28:4); (4) food (Dt. 28:5); (5) success (Dt. 28:6); (6) the defeat of your enemies (Dt. 28:7); (7) prosperity (Dt. 28:8); (8) holiness (Dt. 28:9); (9) respect (Dt. 28:10); and (10) the fullness of God’s blessings (Dt. 28:11-14). Finally, in books of the law from Exodus through Deuteronomy, God reveals the blessing of forgiveness from the blood sacrifices (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). Jesus became the final one-time sacrifice to fulfill the Old Testament sacrificial laws (Heb. 10:12). The only act of obedience required to receive this blessing today is to believe that He died for your sins and that He is both your Lord and Savior (Ro. 10:13; Acts 2:21; Jo. 3:16; 1 Jo. 1:9). Are you obedient to His Ten Commandments and His will to receive His other blessings?
God’s warning to Solomon. God’s conditional blessing also included a warning regarding the discipline that He would impose upon Solomon, his descendants, and the nation if they disobeyed Him: “6 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, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.’’” (1 Kgs. 9:6-9). God’s prophetic warnings included promises that He would: (1) destroy the Temple (1 Kgs. 9:7); (2) expel the Jews (1 Kgs. 9:7; Dt. 29:24-28); and (3) the Jews would become pariahs amongst the nations (1 Kgs. 9:7; Dt. 28:37). God fulfilled each of His warnings. He allowed foreign armies to destroy the Temple in 586 B.C. He also allowed the Jews to be taken into both Assyrian and then Babylonian captivity. The Jews were then derided by the pagans.
God would discipline Solomon’s descendants out of love. God previously warned that the eternal kingship would not exempt the kings from discipline, just as a loving father disciplines a wayward son: “14 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,” (2 Sam. 7:14). In a similar way, God disciplines His people out of love: “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32). If God has disciplined you, rejoice because He loves you. If He has corrected you, have you changed your ways for Him?
A nation that refuses to return to God will also experience His progressive discipline. In the Torah, Moses outlined 40 progressively severe “curses” that God could use to bring a rebellious nation back to Him. These include: (1) resistance / opposition (Dt. 28:16); (2) scarcity (Dt. 28:17); (3) infertility (Dt. 28:18); (4) failure (Dt. 28:19); (5) rebuke (Dt. 28:20); (6) hardships (Dt. 28:21); (7) illness (Dt. 28:22); (8) drought (Dt. 28:23-24); (9) defeat (Dt. 28:25); (10) fear (Dt. 28:26-27); (11) disease (Dt. 28:28); (12) confusion (Dt. 28:28-29); (13) stolen spouses (Dt. 28:30(a)); (14) stolen property (Dt. 28:30(b)-31, 33(a)); (15) stolen children (Dt. 28:32); (16) oppression (Dt. 28:33(b)); (17) mental illness (Dt. 28:34); (18) sores and lost beauty (Dt. 28:35); (19) idolatry (Dt. 28:36); (20) being vilified (Dt. 28:37); (21) insect plagues (Dt. 28:38-39); (22) a seared conscience (Dt. 28:40); (23) enslaved youth (the second curse against children) (Dt. 28:41); (24) barren lands (Dt. 28:42); (25) indebtedness (Dt. 28:43-44); (26) destruction (Dt. 28:45-6); (27) captivity (Dt. 28:47(a)); (28) suffering (Dt. 28:47(b)); (29) invasion (Dt. 28:49-50); (30) pillaging (Dt. 28:51); (31) being besieged (Dt. 28:52); (32) self-destruction (Dt. 28:53); (33) husbands turning on their wives (Dt. 28:54-55); (34) wives turning on their husbands (Dt. 28:56-57); (35) unending plagues (Dt. 28:58-59(a)); (36) unending diseases (Dt. 28:59(b)-60); (37) other calamities (Dt. 28:61); (38) population collapse (Dt. 28:62-63); (39) exile (Dt. 28:64); and (40) despair (Dt. 28:65-68). The western world has also enjoyed great prosperity, even as it turns from God and embraces what God calls evil. It should not interpret its prosperity as a blessing. Solomon would make the same mistake. Instead, it was and is the calm before the storm of His discipline.
God will not forsake you when He disciplines you. Even though God would discipline Solomon’s descents, He promised never to forsake them: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). ‘“Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.”’ (Lev. 26:11). “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” (Josh. 1:5). “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22). “ but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:15). Sin would, however, limit the extent of their blessing to the land of Judah: ‘“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. 11:13). “So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.” (2 Kgs. 17:18). “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Ps. 89:33). Sin may prevent you from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. Yet, He will never leave you or abandon you because of sin unless you reject Jesus as your source of atonement.
God desires obedience more than sacrifice. God wanted the obedience of Solomon and his descendants more than their sacrifice. “Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22). Are you obedient in your walk with Jesus? If not, what kind of an example are you setting for others?
Jesus is not your Lord if you refuse to do what He says. A believer may proclaim Jesus as Lord. Yet, Jesus is not your Lord if you disobey Him: “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). “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22). “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.” (Matt. 7:24). “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26). If you call Jesus your Lord, is there any area of your life where you are refusing to obey Him?
Solomon tricks his friend Hiram into an unfair land deal. After repeating God’s conditional blessings and warnings, the Bible describes Solomon’s slow descent into covetousness through his conspicuous accumulation of gold and wealth after he tricked King Hiram into giving 15,000 pounds of gold for 20 worthless cities: “10 It came about at the end of twenty years in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house 11 (Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold according to all his desire), then King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12 So Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they did not please him. 13 He said, ‘What are these cities which you have given me, my brother?’ So they were called the land of Cabul to this day. 14 And Hiram sent to the king 120 talents of gold.” (1 Kgs. 9:10-14). King Hiram in southern Lebanon had been a loyal ally to both David and Solomon (1 Kgs. 5:1-7). He provided much of the material and labor for David’s home, the Temple and Solomon’s palace (2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kgs. 5:8-18; 7:2). Each talent of gold that King Hiram gave Solomon was worth approximately 125 pounds. Thus, he gave Solomon 15,000 pounds of gold. In exchange, Solomon gave the pagan king 20 cities in Galilee, located in the northern Promised Land. God previously gave this territory to the tribe of Asher, and Solomon had no right to give it away. King Hiram also was not pleased with his gift. The cities that Solomon gave him were not worth the gold that he gave Solomon. It is believed that these towns were in a mountainous region and would not have produced much food. Possibly under the motivation of the Holy Spirit to preserve Asher’s promised inheritance, Hiram later returned these 20 cities back to the Jews (2 Chr. 8:2).
Solomon deceives Hiram2
Be holy in your dealings with others. Some might interpret these passages to suggest that Solomon was a “shrewd” businessman. Yet, the end result left King Hiram feeling that his friend had deceived him. Solomon may have obtained more gold than the land was worth. Yet, he caused God to be reflected in a negative light to a pagan king who was serving God. God later condemned one of last kings of ancient Judah for his “dishonest gain” (Jer. 22:17). Unlike Solomon’s deception with King Hiram, you are called upon to be holy in your dealings with others. “For I am the LORD your God . . . be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44). “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Lev. 19:2). “You are to be my holy people.” (Ex. 22:31). “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:16). Jesus is the light of the world today (Jo. 8:12). His light burns inside you as a beacon for those around you (Matt. 5:14). In turn, you are commanded to share the hope that lies within you (1 Pet. 3:15; Matt. 28:19-20). You are also an “ambassador” for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Are you a holy witness to the light of Jesus?
The remaining Canaanites become servants of Solomon for Solomon’s cities. Using Canaanites as his forced laborers and after taxing his people, Solomon also built fortified cities that he filled with chariots and horsemen: “15 Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 So Solomon rebuilt Gezer and the lower Beth-horon 18 and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19 and all the storage cities which Solomon had, even the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. 20 As for all the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, who were not of the sons of Israel, 21 their descendants who were left after them in the land whom the sons of Israel were unable to destroy utterly, from them Solomon levied forced laborers, even to this day.” (1 Kgs. 9:15-21). In addition to the Temple and his own palace, Solomon built Jerusalem as the first of seven fortified cities. To protect it and develop it, he built a “Millo” (either a valley with landfill or a terraced hillside) around Jerusalem and a wall to protect it (1 Kgs. 9:15). The second fortified city was Hazor, located north of the Sea of Galilee. It protected the entrance into Israel from Syria and Mesopotamia. The third fortified city was Megiddo. It defended a mountain pass in the Carmel Mountains from the coastal route to Egypt. This place foreshadowed the future battle of Armageddon where Jesus will defeat the forces of the antichrist (Rev. 16:16). The fourth city was Gezer. It was 20 miles west of Jerusalem and also protected the approach to the city. The Pharaoh defeated Gezer and gave it as a dowry for his daughter and his alliance with Solomon. Solomon may have built it to honor his pagan wife (1 Kgs. 9:16-17; 3:1). The fifth city was Beth-horon. It was approximately 12 miles northwest of Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 9:17). The sixth and seventh cities were Baalath and Tadmor, located in former Canaanite territories. Tadmor was located approximately 16 miles southwest of the Dead Sea on the southeastern border (1 Kgs. 9:18; Ezek. 47:19; 48:28). These seven strategic cities stored food for the Kingdom (1 Kgs. 9:19; 2 Chr. 17:12; 32:28). To deter foreign armies, he also used these cities to garrison a large army with both chariots and horses (1 Kgs. 9:19). He also turned the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites (who had pledged their allegiance to Israel) into forced laborers (1 Kgs. 9:20-21). God did not allow His people to turn the Jews into slaves. Solomon likely turned the remaining Canaanites into slaves to get around this prohibition (Ex. 21:2-11; Lev. 25:44-46; Dt. 15:12-18). As one commentator notes: “This was another apparent compromise by Solomon. God strictly commanded that the remnants of these tribes be driven out of the land, not used as slave laborers in Israel. Solomon didn’t make Israelites forced laborers, but used them to oversee the remnants of the Canaanite tribes.” (David Guzik on 1 Kgs. 9).3 Jesus further came to free the oppressed (Lk. 4:18; Is. 49:9). Thus, He does not want His people to oppress others.
Make no provision for the flesh. God warned the Jews not to leave behind the Canaanites who escaped the larger battles for control of the Promised Land (Josh. 17:11-13). He also warned the Jews not to make peace with the people of Canaan because of the threat that they would pose to the Jews if left behind (Nu. 33:52-56; Dt. 7:1-2; 20:16-18). As a result of their disobedience, the Jews adopted the pagan practices of the Canaanites. After God later removed His protection, Israel would be swept away by their enemies (2 Kgs. 17:7-23). The Kingdom of Judah would then be swept away as well. Like the Canaanites, your flesh is also at war with the Spirit for control of your body. Like the Jews, you must make no provision for the flesh: “. . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Ro. 8:7). The lusts of the flesh can also defile you (Mk. 7:20). When you give into the lusts of the flesh, you let the ruler of this world control you: “[T]he lust of the flesh . .. is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16; Ro. 8:8). Moreover, without Christ, “. . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50; Ro. 8:6, 13). “[O]ne who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption . . .” (Gal. 6:8). Are you seeking the Lord each day to renew your mind and repent of any evil desires? (Ro. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:15).
Solomon builds a large Jewish army to deter foreign invaders. Solomon turned to the Jews to serve as soldiers in his large standing army and to manage his many laborers: “22 But Solomon did not make slaves of the sons of Israel; for they were men of war, his servants, his princes, his captains, his chariot commanders, and his horsemen. 23 These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people doing the work.” (1 Kgs. 9:22-23). Solomon did not violate the law by turning his own people into bond servants (Lev. 25:39). Yet, through his taxes and his conscription requirements, the Jews paid with their treasure, blood, and resources to build Solomon’s large standing army to deter foreign invaders. The Jews also supervised his many Canaanite laborers. Depending upon their rank, the officers oversaw troops or laborers composed of groups of 250, 300, or 550 men (1 Kgs. 9:23; 2 Chr. 8:10; 2:18).
Place your trust in God’s strength, not your own strength. Through God’s blessings, Solomon reigned in peace (1 Kgs. 4:25). To preserve the peace, Solomon accumulated a large number of horses and chariots (1 Kgs. 4:26; 2 Chron. 9:25). The fortified cities served as garrisons for his chariots and for his horsemen. (1 Kgs. 9:19). Although this might have seemed wise based upon worldly logic, the accumulation of too many horses and chariots violated God’s law: “16 Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’” (Dt. 17:16). David also warned: “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” (Ps. 20:7). “A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.” (Ps. 33:17). Solomon also later warned from his errors: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (Prov. 28:26). Solomon showed a lack of trust in God when he acquired too much power. This in turn caused him to feel less dependent upon God and more willing to sin.
Solomon separates his pagan princess and observes the three yearly feasts to God. Although Solomon had become distracted by his wealth and power, he still kept his pagan wife’s home separate and observed three yearly feasts to God: “24 As soon as Pharaoh’s daughter came up from the city of David to her house which Solomon had built for her, then he built the Millo. 25 Now three times in a year Solomon offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar which he built to the Lord, burning incense with them on the altar which was before the Lord. So he finished the house.” (1 Kgs. 9:24-25). Because Solomon’s pagan princess from Egypt had not become a convert to Yahweh, he kept her home separate from the worship and sacrifices to Yahweh (1 Kgs. 7:2-8). But Solomon’s mixed allegiances would not last. At a later point, he would build pagan places of worship for his foreign wives (1 Kgs. 7:2-8). At this point, Solomon also still observed the three yearly feasts and sacrifices in Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 9:25; Dt. 16:1-17). These included the Feasts of Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and Tabernacles (Ex. 23:14-16; 2 Chr. 8:12-16). But his walk would soon be corrupted.
Failing to stay separate from unholy things will corrupt your walk with God. Solomon believed that it was fine to worship God and have multiple wives, including pagan ones. But it violated God’s law to have multiple wives: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). Even though Solomon was the wisest man alive (1 Kgs. 4:30), his coveting led him to take 700 wives and 300 concubines. These lusts for the flesh led him astray (1 Kgs. 11:3). His lusts also turned his heart away from God: “For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart 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. 11:4). He then began to serve other gods and did evil in God’s eyes (1 Kgs. 11:5-6). He ignored God’s warning not to be unequally yoked: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” (Dt. 22:10; 2 Cor. 6:14; Ezra 9:2). If Solomon had kept boundaries and obeyed God’s law, he would not have been corrupted in his worship and his walk with God.
Solomon receives tribute from foreign lands. Solomon’s worship, however, was overshadowed by his accumulation of wealth from foreign lands: “26 King Solomon also built a fleet of ships in Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 27 And Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, sailors who knew the sea, along with the servants of Solomon. 28 They went to Ophir and took four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.” (1 Kgs. 9:26-28). Solomon’s Red Sea navy was based at Ezion-geber, located at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba (1 Kgs. 9:26). King Hiram’s Phoenician navy assisted Solomon as they brought gold back from far away places like Ophir, which was most likely located in southwestern Arabia (1 Kgs. 9:28; 10:11; Job 22:24; 28:16). It is also known through archeology that the Jews reached as far as India in their trade and exploration. The means to explore and trade was a result of God’s blessings. The wealth that the Jews acquired was meant for them to become a light to the nations around them (Is. 42:6).
Solomon receives tributes from foreign lands4
A Spirit-led leader must never use God’s blessings to covet wealth. Although Israel’s wealth was a God-given blessing, Solomon failed to guard his heart from covetousness. It is not by itself a sin for a leader like Solomon to acquire wealth. It is only a sin if the leader’s love of money leads to coveting (1 Tim. 6:10). A Spirit-led leader must therefore be content with what he or she has. He or she must never seek to enrich himself or herself through his or her leadership for God (Dt. 17:17(b)). Coveting violates the Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Coveting also defiles you: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, . . . deeds of coveting . . . All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mk. 7:21-23). Coveting is also one of the leading reasons for a leader to rebel (Isa. 1:23). Those who “covet” are further disqualified from inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:3-6). From his mistakes, Solomon later wrote: “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say who is the Lord?” (Prov. 30:8-9). “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him.” (Prov. 28:22). “A faithful man will have many blessings, but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 28:20). A leader who covets can never satisfy his desires by giving into those desires. He will always want more power (Hab. 2:5). If God has blessed you, do you covet more money or power?
God’s wisdom is worth more than any earthly treasure. Solomon learned that God’s wisdom is worth more than wealth. “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Prov. 16:16). “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.” (Prov. 3:13-15) “My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver.” (Prov. 8:19). Do you seek out riches, power, and respect? Or, do you seek God’s wisdom?