Today: [1 Kings Chapter Eleven]: The Corruption of Solomon’s Kingdom. In this chapter we see Solomon given over to the extremes of polygamy and idolatry. He participates in brutal pagan rites involving child sacrifice. Because of this God allows three major threats against Solomon’s kingdom to arise and ultimately Israel as a nation is broken up into a divided kingdom. Could this happen in the United States? What are the contrasts between the rampant hedonism of our day and the jaded decadence and debauchery of Solomon’s day? We can rail against the threats to peace such as the Jihadists, etc., but perhaps we should be looking closer to home at the compromises we make in our own lifestyles that on a cumulative scale have opened us and made us vulnerable to the enemies of peace.
[1Ki 11:1-43 KJV] 1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, [and] Hittites; 2 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: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, [that] 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. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as [did] David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build 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. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 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. 13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; [but] will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.
In this chapter we read of the concluding years of Solomon’s life. He was a truly cosmopolitan leader – who saw himself as a citizen of the world. He established diplomatic relations with many nations by marrying their daughters and taking concubines from many peoples. It is remarkable to us that Solomon would have 700 wives and 300 concubines but this is how diplomacy was done in the ancient world and this practice of royal intermarriage continued right down to Victorian times. No doubt Solomon looked at the commands of scripture prohibiting intermarriage with foreign peoples and considered himself exempt – after all he was Solomon the wisest man that ever lived. In your lifetime you will have seasons of blessing and favor that will give you pause and perhaps you will be tempted as Solomon to afford yourself privileges you think do not apply to others around you. This is a slippery slope and for Solomon led to his personal undoing and set the stage for a divided kingdom in the generation after him. God warns him that the kingdom will be taken from him not in his lifetime but in the succession of his son Reoboam.
Furthermore Solomon made accommodation for the pagan religions of his brides and set up altars to their gods in the high places. Solomon personally participated in the worship of Chemosh, Molech and Ashtoreth. Solomon actually built a shrine to Chemosh on the Mount of Olives – a drastic abomination considering the role the Mount of Olives plays in the return of Christ. Because of Solomon’s compromise in this area the worship of Chemosh continued in Israel for 400 years. John Milton in Paradise Lost called Chemosh the “obscene dread” of Moab – whose pagan rites included sexual perversion and homicide.
In our society we highly value tolerance and a to-each-his-own attitude where the personal lives of others are concerned. What is wrong with Solomon maintaining an atmosphere of tolerance in his kingdom? You must understand some of the practices involved in the worship of Chemosh and Molech. These were metal idols designed to be filled with fire in their bellies until their outstretched arms glowed white hot. At that time worshippers would cast their children upon the white hot arms of the idol and they would almost vaporize in the intense heat giving the impression that the idol had caught them up to his throne. This is despicable to us but no less a travesty is the 50 million babies aborted in the sterile procedure rooms of abortion clinics as we go about our lives oblivious to the holocaust whose victims are numbered before God every day. We can look to the ovens of Auschwitz and shudder but American and the western nations hold no moral high ground when contrasting legalized abortion with the Final Solution policies of the Nazi regime in Germany.
Solomon was also a worshipper of Ashtoreth. Ashtoreth is a goddess whose name means “celebrity” or “star”. The worship of the cult of Celebrity confronts us every time we view the media or pass a newspaper stand. The common error of so-called celebrities is how they hold themselves exempt from the grass roots moral values of the people who make them famous. One sad example for me is an interview I read where Frank Sinatra in his suave and debonair way totally mocks faith in Jesus and suggests that truly informed and “hip” men and women would never participate in such primitive and ignorant practices as giving one’s heart to Jesus. It grieved me because it suggests that he didn’t make heaven and it grieves me because of the millions who idolized Sinatra and followed in his footsteps. Solomon was an ancient example that no doubt thousands followed in rejecting the simplicity of the faith of the God of Abraham into the pseudo-sophisticated and cosmopolitan attitude of hedonistic, compromising lifestyles all in the name of fairness and tolerance.
The result for Solomon and for Israel ultimately was a divided kingdom. We look at our nation and think of it as “indivisible – one nation under God …” Yet our culture has more in common with Solomon in his backslidings than we might be comfortable realizing. Though we might not make the connection – the modern day worship of Ashtoreth and the embrace of the culture of celebrity could one day mark the reason why our nation breaks up and the glory of American exeptionalism become just a footnote in the history of a hedonistic and arrogant people.
14 And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he [was] of the king’s seed in Edom. 15 For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom; 16 (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) 17 That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad [being] yet a little child. 18 And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land. 19 And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. 20 And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s household among the sons of Pharaoh. 21 And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country. 22 Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise. 23 And God stirred him up [another] adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: 24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them [of Zobah]: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. 25 And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad [did]: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria. 26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name [was] Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up [his] hand against the king. 27 And this [was] the cause that he lifted up [his] hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, [and] repaired the breaches of the city of David his father.
Because of Solomon’s sin there arose three adversaries against the nation of Israel that Solomon could not dispatch – Jeroboam and pretender to the throne, Rezon a Syrian warlord, and Hadad an Egyptian backed Edomite. These were forces that David kept at bay in his lifetime but now have seen a resurgence because Solomon was more preoccupied with self aggrandizement and internal matters than protecting his borders. We can see shadows of this in our own culture with implacable enemies such as Iran and North Korean and the Muslim Jihadists. These are nations that for all of America’s might and power we seem powerless to deal with. What is the answer? To pray against the Iranians, the North Koreans or the Jihadists? The answer for Solomon would have been to return to the God of his fathers. The answer is not a political one or the raising up of a strong military to confront these threats. The answer is a heart answer and you and I as the church are the only billboard and platform that can model this message of a call to humility and a life of contrition before God.
28 And the man Jeroboam [was] a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. 29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two [were] alone in the field: 30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that [was] on him, and rent it [in] twelve pieces: 31 And he 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: 32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) 33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do [that which is] right in mine eyes, and [to keep] my statutes and my judgments, as [did] David his father. 34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, [even] ten tribes. 36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. 37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. 38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do [that is] right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee. 39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. 40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. 41 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? 42 And 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 David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
Why do threats to stability go unchecked on the world scene? Is the answer a political one? Do we look to politics or the military to come up with some plan to solve these problems? No God raises up Jeroboam to usurp and conquer Solomon’s kingdom because of the idolatry in Solomon’s heart and the heart of the culture of hedonism that sprang up around him. Just as in the captivities God spoke of the Babylonians and Persians as instruments of His wielding we must pause and consider that the Jihadist threat, and others may very well be allowed by God to persist because the carnality and decadence of our culture has opened the door and made us vulnerable. The answer therefore is not to rail against and hate the Jihadists. They are only in our lives because of choices we have made within our own borders. The answer is to return to the God of our Fathers and the mandate is not to be promulgated or broadcast to others until it is reflected in our own lives when we return to the piety and simplicity of our own faith.
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