IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT





God’s Anger with King Solomon

Date: Nov. 2, 2014

Author: Michael Mark

1 Kings 11:1-43

Key Verse: 1 Kings 11:9

“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.”

Who here likes to be disciplined? Whether we like discipline or not, it’s always painful. Discipline is important though, because it trains us to do something right. Prov 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.” I remember a time in preschool, as clear as yesterday, where a dear friend of mine taught me to submit to discipline. In preschool, naptime was enforced. Napping is good for kids, because that’s when their bodies get a chance to rest and grow. I wish they would enforce naptime at work. Now in preschool, if you were caught playing or not sleeping (or at least pretending to sleep), you would have to stand in the corner for 10 minutes. One day, my friend Bobby came up to me and said, “Michael, did you take a nap?” I said, “No,” and he said, “Do you want to go stand in the corner together?” We went to go stand in the corner together, and from that day to this, we have been the best of friends. The teachers saw us and asked why we were standing there, and when we told them we didn’t sleep, they commended us for our good behavior. They still made us stand there the whole time, but I felt I did something good, and I learned the importance of naptime. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but folly is also bound up in grown ups too, because we all were born with sin in our hearts. Even the wisest king ever to rule, fell prey to sin. God became angry, and pronounced judgment – but even in God’s judgment we find a glimmer of grace and mercy. Although our hearts are desperately wicked, God always had it in mind to somehow pay the price we owe, so that he may offer to us the free gift of salvation from our sins.

King Solomon had a wonderful start to his kingdom. When he was a young man, he was established as the King of Israel, succeeding his father King David. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” and Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people with justice. God was pleased, and he granted Solomon the wisdom he asked for. God was so pleased, in fact, that he also gave Solomon power and prosperity such that he would have no equal among kings. The nation of Israel prospered under his rule. He built the world’s most glorious temple, inlaid with gold worth billions of dollars. Silver was as common as stones in Jerusalem. All opposing nations were subdued. There was peace on every side, and the conquered nations paid tribute. He established a fleet of trading ships and trade routes throughout the kingdom. People from all over the world wanted to come and listen to the wisdom God had given Solomon.

Unfortunately, this glory did not last, and towards the end of his reign sin would lead to the decline of the Israel’s most prosperous king and his kingdom. Over time, Solomon amassed an extremely large harem. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. Most people might find it hard to even maintain a Facebook list of 150 friends, but Solomon had 1,000 women to take care of. The question to ask is, why did he have so many wives and concubines? Some, if not most of his wives were political alliances with foreign nations. To have so many wives was a symbol of status. King David himself had 7 wives, but Solomon had 100 times that. It certainly isn’t encouraged by God. We see Adam only had 1 wife. Noah and his sons only had 1 wife each. We also see in the Bible, in every case where there is more than 1 wife, there is strife in the family. Abraham’s wives fought. Jacob’s wives fought. Elkanah, the father of the judge and prophet Samuel, had 2 wives that provoked each other. King David’s sons killed one another. King Solomon’s wives were not encourage by God, instead, they satisfied his pride and his lust. The many wives shows how other kings would give their daughters to him, and how he can afford to take care of so many women. This fueled his pride. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure,” so we also see that all these women also fueled his lust.

Did they really satisfy? Solomon continues in Ecclesiastes, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” 1,000 women and this still did not satisfy Solomon. That’s the problem with sin: it can never satisfy and it can never be satisfied. Solomon started out humble, and God gave him everything he needed. You would think that as he got older, wisdom and experience would make him at least more wise, but he ended up committing gross sin toward the end of his reign. Whether you’re old or young, sin can get you. We must guard our hearts, and always be on the lookout. We must be careful when our hearts stray from God. We must be vigilant because our hearts tend to drift from God. Be aware if you start looking to other things above God for comfort or satisfaction, and if your heart begins to neglect or forget about God. Be aware if your heart begins to mistrust God when you face a difficult situation. Be aware if greed, anger or jealousy hinders you from seeking the Lord. And I say “we” because I am also a sinner whose heart drifts from God in all those ways. The apostle Paul says “do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27).” God himself warned Cain in Gen 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Sin clouds our judgment, and leads us to disobedience toward God. King Solomon was given wisdom from God to judge the affairs of God’s people and lead the nation. He was given wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as sand on the seashore (1 Kings 4:29). He spoke proverbs, wrote songs, and could talk about all kinds of plant life, animals, birds, reptiles and fish. The queen of Sheba came with some very tough questions, but nothing was to hard for Solomon to explain to her. Yet despite his great wisdom, which he himself can testify came from God, he disobeyed a very simple command. He actually disobeyed 2 simple commands. The first command he disobeyed was a command God gave the Israelites, that they should not intermarry with foreign women, because God knew that they would turn their hearts after foreign gods. God gave this command twice, once while the Israelites were escaping from Egypt, and God gave Moses the new stone tablets (Ex 34), and once again right before they entered the promised land (Deut 7). It seemed to be an important command that anyone in Israel should be well aware of, especially the king. God had warned the Israelites that the foreign women would turn them to idols, and this warning became reality when Solomon disobeyed the command and took all of those foreign wives. Solomon’s sin, his pride and lust, caused him to seek all these wives.

That first command Solomon disobeyed, which is not to intermarry, was a general command to all Israel. The second command Solomon disobeyed was more serious, and actually the disobedience of the first command led to the disobedience of the next. Solomon had declined into idolatry, which is specifically what God had commanded him not to do. God warned Solomon that if he went off to serve other gods and worshipped them, that he would cut off Israel from the land and reject the temple Solomon had built (1 Kings 9:6-7). Not only was this a direct violation of the special covenant God made with Solomon, but it was also a violation of the first 2 of the Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before me, and You shall not make an image in the form of anything created and bow down to it. As Solomon grew old, it was these foreign wives he had married that turned his heart after other gods. Verse 4 says his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord, meaning, he might have still worshipped God, but he also worshipped Ashtoreth, Chemosh and Molek. God alone is to be worshipped, and it is an abomination to the Lord to worship anything except Him alone. Verse 6 gives an indictment of Solomon, saying, “So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.”

Can we all please read v.9 together, “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who appeared to him twice.” Solomon had truly turned away from the Lord. This is one way we can understand idolatry. Solomon turned away from the Lord. He has given his love to another. First, it was his wives. He held fast to them in love, disobeying God’s command about marriage. Then, he joined with them in following their idols, even building high places, homes or temples for the idols in the mountains within the territory of the kingdom. He worshipped their idols, and his love for God was now divided and shared with detestable false gods. When he opened the door to one of the gods, it opened the door for all of the others. Because he had so many foreign wives, they worshipped many different gods. And if one wife got her request, Solomon had to oblige to worship and make high places for the other gods too. So not only has he given his love to these other gods, but he serves them, building them a home and offering sacrifices to them. So Solomon turns from the Lord in three ways. First, as mentioned, he gives his affection to them. Second, also mentioned, he serves them. Third, Solomon has turned from and spurned the grace and love of God. Was it not God who had given Solomon wisdom in the first place? Was it not God who had given Solomon strength, and wealth to build such a great kingdom? And, as we read in v.9, God himself appeared to him twice. Of course, God is omnipresent, he is everywhere – but Solomon had the privilege not once, but twice to see God face to face. It’s like President Obama landing his helicopter here on this chapel to stop by and say hi to me. And yet, despite God’s grace, Solomon turns away from the Lord and to these worthless idols.

The Lord became angry with Solomon. Can you understand why the Lord was angry? He gave his love to another, he serves another, and he spurned God’s love. You want to know what this is like? For those of you who are not married, imagine that you are married. If you are married, you can follow along. Imagine if your spouse, the one who has vowed to love you till death do you part, loves someone else. Would not your heart break? Now imagine your husband or wife, brings this person home, and also provides this person a fully furnished room with a brand new TV. Would you believe your husband or wife at this point, if they said, “I love you honey?” No, you might want to slap them in the face, and kick him (or her) and their prostitute out the door. And then worst of all, this happens after 10 years of marriage, where you provided or contributed money to the family, and this husband or wife takes that money to spend on their other lover. It’s disgusting. It’s deplorable. Yet that’s idolatry. And that’s why God hates it so much. God has given us life. He gives us what we need. He gives us the skill to earn and make money. He gives us the ability to study and understand exams. He gives us our husband or wife. He gives us the rain, and the commands the sun to come at its appointed time, and the moon at its appointed time. But because of our sin, whether it’s out of greed, or pride, or lust, we turn away from God. We are the ungrateful child who takes our gifts for granted. The apostle Paul says in Romans (Rom 1:21) about those whom God is angry at, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The just wrath of God will come upon idolaters, but there is hope.

Let’s see how God dealt with Solomon’s idolatry. Look at v.10-11, “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.’” God declared that he would tear the kingdom away from Solomon. Solomon had led the nation into idolatry, and he should be removed as king, but in the midst of his judgment God also shows grace. Based solely on the promise He made to David, Solomon’s father, and not based on any virtue in Solomon, God would allow Solomon to continue to rule until his death. This was to fulfill his promise to David. Here’s something interesting: God’s promise is from 2 Sam 7:15, which says, “But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” That verse refers to David’s offspring, to both Jesus and to Solomon. God’s love for Solomon was based on a promise God made, not on Solomon’s merits. If it were based on Solomon’s works, he’d be toast by now. But for David’s sake, God kept his promise not to take away his love from Solomon, and as we’ll see later – that’s good news for us. Still, God did say in 2 Sam 7:14, the verse before, “I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands.” God is just, and he requires eternal punishment for sin. But for those he loves, some punishment is for discipline, as he will take care of the eternal punishment in Jesus Christ.

First, let’s look at the disciplinary action he takes against Solomon. Look at v.14, “Then the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.” Prior to his idolatry, Solomon had no enemies. There was peace on all sides. And had he followed God’s commands, God may have protected him still. But now, because of his idolatry, God is raising up a rod. Hadad was no ordinary Edomite, he was a royal. He also earned the favor of Pharoah, king of Egypt, so much so, that he became the Pharoah’s brother in law, and his child, Genubath, was also loved by Pharoah’s family. Hadad had some friends in high places. Hadad fled from his homeland of Edom as a boy, and probably harbored some resentment toward Israel for slaughtering his people. After he heard that King David and Joab had died, he now probably saw the opportunity to reclaim the throne, or at least give Solomon a hard time. Another adversary, Rezon, was raised up against Solomon. Because of David, Rezon also had to flee his homeland. He fled to Damascus, which today is the capital city of Syria. Although he was a refugee, he soon found himself in power. Good news for Rezon, bad news for Solomon. So Hadad gave Solomon trouble in the south, in Edom, and Rezon gave Solomon trouble in the north, from Aram.

God wasn’t finished yet. There was one more adversary God raised up, who would be the primary agent to carry out God’s plan to split the kingdom. This man was Jeroboam, who was one of Solomon’s officials, and an Ephraimite. It was important that he was an Ephraimite, which is in the north (central), because it meant that in the future, he could lead a rebellion against Judah, which is in the south. He once worked under King Solomon, and probably before Solomon knew that he would be a potential competitor, Solomon saw that he did a great job, and put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph. You know what that means? It means this man was young, highly respected, and highly capable. And he was the boss of the labor force of the tribes of Joseph, who own the largest amount of territory in Israel. You know what that means? It means he can become a formidable adversary against the Solomon’s established kingdom.

Jeroboam received his commission from Ahijah, who was a prophet of God. Here we also see the beginning of a pattern that will appear later in the book of kings. The kingdom of Israel is about to be split into 2 kingdoms, and some of the respective kings will be so far removed from the knowledge of God that prophets will be coming in and out to discern God’s will for the kings and the people. Ahijah may have been the same prophet to tell Solomon in v.11-13 that God will tear the kingdom from him. Now Ahijah appears here, and he gives Jeroboam the message from God that Jeroboam will one day be king of 10 of the tribes in Israel. The passage seems to suggest that Jeroboam was rebelling against Solomon before his time. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, and stayed there until Solomon’s death. It is possible that Solomon might have heard that Jeroboam was to be a rival king. In this situation, if this was the case, we see Solomon also trying to fight the hand of God, who already revealed to Solomon that the kingdom would be split. God’s will cannot be stopped, however, so Jeroboam was given safe harbor in Egypt until his time would come.

God judged Solomon and would discipline him (and not only him but all of David’s descendants) by raising up adversaries and splitting the kingdom. He would reduce the size of Solomon’s kingdom to 1/10 the size, but even this showed God’s grace and mercy in his judgment. God is a holy and righteous God who cannot tolerate any sin or wickedness. All of it must be punished. But we see some hope in the midst of his judgment, we see a narrow path of escape in the midst of his wrath. Let’s look at his grace in judgment in this passage. In v.36, it says, “I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my name.” This is the reason why God did not entirely sweep the kingdom away from Solomon. God could have, and he should have because Solomon had plunged the nation into idolatry after such a glorious start. But God allowed 1 tribe to remain in order to build a dynasty for David, leading up to the lamp of Israel, the eternal king. It wouldn’t be much of a dynasty if Solomon was removed from power, but God kept Solomon in power over 1 tribe, and would allow David and Solomon’s descendants to rule in Jerusalem until the exile. This built up David’s dynasty to secure a throne in Jerusalem for a future king. Notice briefly that God gives the same promise to the rebel, Jeroboam. We’ll see later that Jeroboam might have forgotten all about this promise, but we can see that God is willing to bless those who obey and follow him.

Finally, in v.36, it says, “I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.” All of David’s descendants would be humbled through conflicts with the split kingdom of Israel and with conflicts from foreign nations, but not forever. This means that David’s kingdom will be restored, and one of his descendants will be glorified. This descendant will be the Son of David who will always be a lamp before God in Jerusalem. This descendant is none other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of David. His is the lamp of Israel, the light to all nations. He is David’s son who was glorified, and established the throne of David forever. The Son of God came, and humbled himself as a man, and now he’s exalted, and sits at the right hand of God.

God is angry with sinners every day. God is angry with the wicked every day. It seems hopeless, does it not? We sin every day, every single day. Now we see today the wisest, humanly blessed human that can ever be, still fall into sin. God’s commands demand that we obey, and obey perfectly. Otherwise we will be subject to punishment. If even the wisest man in the world cannot do it, what chance do we have? There’s good news. The good news is that God gave us his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, and sacrificed him for our sins. The wrath that we deserve for all of our sins – all of them, past, present, and future, little sins, big sins, all sins: the wrath for all of these was poured out on Jesus Christ. Our sins have been credited to his account. Now here’s the great news. His righteousness has been credited to our account. We can never obey perfectly, but Jesus obeyed perfectly. We are not sinless, but Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. And by faith in Jesus Christ: not faith in our good works, not faith in anything else, but by faith alone in Jesus Christ and what he has done, the life that he lived, the work that he’s done: that righteousness is placed into us by faith. God is angry with sinners every day, and his anger still rests on those who do not believe in Jesus. But for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven, and a peace is made between them and God. It does not depend on our works. Aren’t you glad?! Remember when we look at 2 Sam 7:15, God says about David’s son: “But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” God’s love, God’s mercy, our salvation, does not depend on our works, but on God’s mercy. Salvation does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Rom 9:15).

Finally then, how shall we live? You might say, if it doesn’t depend on me, then I’m not going to bother trying anything. You might say, if it doesn’t depend on me, then why should I care? You might say, if it doesn’t depend on me, let me continue on in my sin, for God will forgive me anyway. If that is what you say, then I say, foolish one! Do you not know you were bought at a price? Do you not know that your freedom and your liberty came at the cost of the blood of the Son of God? I will say, foolish one! Do you not know that Jesus Christ is now your king, and you owe him your honor, reverence, and yes your very life! Your selfish ways are idolatry, anything that you desire more than the glory of God is idolatry. You were once a slave to sin, but Christ came to set you free so that he will be your king. In Christ you have the power to put sin to death, and to live for Christ, and to obey his commands, a power and privilege you had not before. Solomon could not defeat the power of sin and death, our mortal enemies; but Christ has defeated our enemies. Come to Christ first for cleansing. Come to Christ first for healing. Come to Christ first for the forgiveness of all your sins. Always keep in mind how much God loves that he gave his one and only Son for you. And from there, repay the debt of love through serving, honoring and following our great Savior, Lord and King. This is the opposite of idolatry. And serve and love others in his name, doing his will, obeying his commands. And as you grow in his grace, you may find that our king is gracious still, providing you with everything you need for a fruitful and godly life, and in the end, richly welcoming you into the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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