birth, the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to David, the second king of Israel,
with a message saying he was “loved by the LORD.” (II Samuel 12:24-25)
But by the end of Solomon's life, “the LORD became angry with Solomon.”
He had started out so well. He had God's blessing from birth. He had pleased
God by asking for wisdom to rule his people well. (I Kings 3:5-15) God
gave him the wisdom he requested and many other blessings. (I Kings 4:29-34)
God also gave him some instructions through King David:
“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ (I Kings 2:2-4)While Solomon was building the temple that David had commissioned, God spoke to him:
The word of the LORD came to Solomon: “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.” (I Kings 6:11-13)God again spoke to Solomon after the temple was finished and dedicated. This time he added a warning to the promise:
“And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them--that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’” (I Kings 9:8-9)Building a temple and carefully following prescribed religious worship would not save them from judgment for their sins. (Psalm 51:16-17)
Solomon plunged head long into being King of Israel. He made sure the enemies to his rule were stripped of any power or influence to take his crown from him.
To ensure a peaceful reign, he made an alliance with the powerful nation of Egypt by marrying the Pharaoh's daughter. (I Kings 3:1-3) He married other foreign women. (I Kings 11:3) He accumulated horses and chariots brought from Egypt. (I Kings 4:26) He accumulated great wealth. (I Kings 10:26-29; II Chronicles 9:22-28) All of which was forbidden by God for the king of his people to do. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Exodus 34:12-17)
King David had broken the law of God many times; sometimes through ignorance, sometimes through weakness; and sometimes through rebellion. But he confessed his sins and turned from them. (Psalm 51) He worshiped the LORD God alone. He remained faithful to God. He did not lead the nation into accepting the gods and religious practices of the nations around them. God was First and Last in his life.
To his son Solomon, the LORD God was only one of many gods. He allowed his wives to turn him away from wholehearted devotion to God. King Solomon loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites:
“You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.” (I Kings 11:1-6)Solomon made a choice. He chose to follow the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God. He had access to God's wisdom in the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible; he even collected proverbs of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:1; I Kings 4:32) God had given him a special gift of wisdom which he used to rule and gain knowledge. In the end, he was a fool because he failed to heed God's instruction:
“When he [the king of Israel] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)As a result of wise King Solomon's foolishness, God took all but one tribe, Judah, from the kingdom ruled by his descendants.
The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (I Kings 11:9-13)Solomon gave his first love to his wives instead of to God. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:34-40) Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus saying, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (Revelation 2:4)
Just like the throne of Israel was removed from Solomon's descendants, Jesus warns Christian churches, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.” (Revelation 2:5)
Jesus taught his disciples, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;” (Matthew 10:37) Even our Christian teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ cannot be given our “first love.”
Only by giving our first and best love to God are we able to love others and even love our enemies. Trusting and obeying God enables us to treat others with respect and compassion. But God alone is worthy of “first love.” (I John 4:7-5:3-5)
The most important lesson we can
learn from Solomon's wives is: Loving anything more than God-- giving anything
our devotion in place of God, or equally along side of God--will separate
us from the blessings God wants to give. God expects our complete devotion.
5:6-15; Matthew 10:37)
For the Scripture References and
related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: Love the LORD your God