1 Kings 11
As you’ve read in this chapter, King Solomon’s reign takes a downturn as he receives condemnation from the Lord for his revolt. In actuality, his reign as King was on a downward spiral over many years despite having the allure of incomparable infrastructure, diversity of trade, and immense capital that would please any consumerist culture.
Solomon’s appetite for accruing “the finer things in life” (many horses, precious stones e.t.c.), mega wealth (much gold and silver), and many foreign wives signaled cracks in his reign which would worsen over time. Solomon plummeted to the depths of establishing sacrificial worship to the gods of his many foreign wives. He had opposed God’s commands that prohibited acquiring many horses, trading with Egypt, accumulating large amounts of silver and gold, and marrying foreign wives who would lead his heart astray after other gods (Deuteronomy 17: 16-17).
It’s striking that Solomon, with all his world-renowned wisdom, would disregard God’s clear commands to such a blatant extent. This spotlights the reality that we’re all vulnerable to making foolish, sinful decisions irrespective of our name, gifting or ministry. We can know what to do and yet not do so (Romans 7:15-20) perhaps due to fear of man or our desire to meet our own self-interests.
Popular apologist, Ravi Zacharias, said recently at a conference ”Moral truths don’t change people but Jesus does.” Encountering Jesus through his word and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit enables us to know, enjoy and serve God (John 14:15-18). Being part of a church that loves both the word and Spirit is also a significant encouragement for every believer. As church we are to continuously minister to each other through the Spirit’s empowerment encouraging and supporting one another to grow in the love and service of Christ our Lord. As his writings in Proverbs 18 suggest, perhaps Solomon isolated himself from the counsel and encouragement of well-meaning believers which lead him further in the errors of his ways (Proverbs 18:1-2). At a time of social distancing and lockdown measures, it’s perhaps even more important than ever to ensure that we are supporting and encouraging one another with the love of Christ. This could be through connecting and encouraging one another via text, phone calls, emails, life group video call chats. And where needed popping out to get supplies if possible for those who can’t get out as easily.
Solomon’s divided heart would lead to a divided kingdom. And Israel would be divided from Judah as a nation following Solomon’s death, with just the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remaining loyal to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam who would take the throne as king. God raises up a number of adversaries against Solomon to bring his judgment about; the most prominent being Jeroboam who would go on to rule Israel with its ten tribes.
Despite this judgment, we see God’s great mercy in God not fully stripping Solomon of the kingdom of Israel and suspending its division till after Solomon’s death. Such mercy was in response to his promise made to David (v12). Nothing can shift God off his promise – not the devil not sin nor anything else.
We can be confident that every one of his promises to us is guaranteed, including his promise that:
- every believer in Christ is forgiven and adopted into God’s eternal family (Ephesians 1:5)
- the Holy Spirit is given to every believer (John 14:16);
- Christ is building the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mathew 16:18);
- God will provide our every need as we seek first the kingdom and his righteousness (Mathew 6:33);
- the earth will be completely renewed with no more tears, sorrow, pain or darkness (Revelation 21:3-4).
Though we may fail and falter God is steadfast and faithful. “We love him because he first loved us”(1 John 4:19).