Author: Ron Graham
Solomon’s Sin and Sorrow
—And the kingdom divides
Time ~ 6. Kingdom Divided
Span ~ 200 years
Books ~ 2Kings, 2Chronicles, Isaiah, Amos, Jonah, Hosea, Micah
Figures ~ Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah
Begins with ~ Rebellion of the ten tribes
Ascendant empire ~ Assyria
Behind the story of the divided kingdom is the fall of Solomon. He did so well at first, yet he sank to a shameful low —as two sweeping chapters describe (1Kings 10 and 11).
In this lesson, we look at the factors behind Solomon's sin and fall from glory. We notice his excess, his disobedience, his neglect, and his several faults —a negative approach perhaps, but very instructive.
Time: 6. Kingdom Divided
Span" 200 years
Books: 2Kings, 2Chronicles, Isaiah, Amos, Jonah, Hosea, Micah
Figures: Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah
Begins with: Rebellion of the ten tribes
Ascendant empire: Assyria
1 Solomon's Excess
- Gold and silver: Solomon accumulated enormous quantities of silver and gold (1Kings 10:14-21,27).
- Thousands of horses: Solomon's stock and trade in horses from Egypt was huge (1Kings 10:26,28-29).
- A thousand wives: Solomon had 700 wives, the daughters of foreign kings, and 300 concubines (1Kings 11:1-3).
2 Solomon's Disobedience
To link the curious facts above with Solomon's downfall, we regress to the time in the wilderness. In the law given Moses, God anticipated the desire of the future nation to have a king. God made a law for every king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
- "The king shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses..."
- "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself lest his heart turn away..."
- "Nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself..."
- "When the king sits on the throne... he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll... And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life... carefully observing all the words of this law... that he may not turn aside from the commandment"
Solomon did the very opposite —a warning for us to "pay closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away" (Hebrews 2:1-3).
3 Solomon's Repentance
Did Solomon repent of his sins and return to the Lord later in life? One has every hope that he did. The book of Ecclesiastes was almost certainly written by Solomon "king over Israel in Jerusalem" (Ecclesiastes 1:1,12). It was written after all his works and aquisitions were accomplished. On reflection, he pronounces them "vanity and chasing after the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Solomon recognizes that God's works and word are eternal and all that really matters (Ecclesiastes 3:14, 12:13-14). This indicates a reformed and penitent Solomon who followed again after the heart of his father David. Like David, Solomon is forgiven. The temporal consequences of his sins had to stand, but from the eternal consequences he was saved.
4 Solomon Divided
Behind this story is the fact that, no matter how strong our faith might be, we can, like Solomon, let it slip by not paying sufficient attention to God's word daily.
The most pointed statement about Solomon is this: "His heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God as the heart of David his father had been" (1Kings 11:4). In other words, Solomon’s heart was divided.
A partial devotion to God is useless. A wholehearted devotion to God is necessary. We cannot divide our loyalties between God and other gods or other things.
5 The Kingdom Divided
We find God saying to Solomon, "I will tear the kingdom away from you" (1Kings 11:9-11).
While Benjamin clung to Judah, the other ten tribes were rebellious. When Solomon died, they rejected Solomon's son Rehoboam as king, and made Solomon's servant Jeroboam their king instead.
They rejected Jerusalem the holy city, and made their capital Samaria to the north. So there was a division into two kingdoms.
The tribes of Judah and Benjamin became known collectively as Judah, while the ten surrounding tribes retained the name Israel. Each kingdom had its own succession of kings, many of whom were evil, Israel's being the worst.
6 The World Divided
The Bible says, "Behold the goodness and severity of God —on those who fell severity, but to you kindness, if you continue in his kindness, otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22). God has always been a God of both grace and wrath. This will one day result in the whole world being divided into "sheep and goats" (Matthew 25:31-46).
God Dumps Solomon
The story of Solomon begins very well. He began to reign with humility and dedication.
In Gibeon, God appeared to him in a dream, and invited Solomon to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon pleased God with his reply: "Give me wisdom to rule your people well."
God gave him great wisdom, as well as many blessings he had not asked: "riches and honour, so there will not be any among the kings like you all your days, if you walk in my ways, keeping my commandments and laws" (1Kings 3:3-15). God later appeared to Solomon a second time.