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1 Kings 11:113comment (0)

December 23, 2010

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: 1 Kings 11:113

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Kings 11:1–13

What Part of No Isn’t Clear? (1–3)

Despite all his obvious strengths, Solomon had a very evident weakness: “King Solomon loved many foreign women.” This statement reminds us of an earlier description of him: “Solomon loved the Lord” (1 Kings 3:3). These were incompatible loves, since God had commanded His people not to intermarry with pagan foreigners because “they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon chose his wives from the very nations that God had prohibited, probably to form alliances with local chiefs and clan leaders. He probably rationalized it as a means of national security, but it was an act of rebellion against God. Solomon not only broke God’s command not to marry foreign women but he also ignored His command against multiple wives in Deuteronomy 17:17. Intermarriage inevitably led to toleration and finally observance of Canaanite religious practices. If anyone should take these warnings seriously, then it should be the king, who leads by example. Yet Solomon apparently considered himself above the law and paid a bitter price.

What Heart Problem? (4–8)
Solomon’s compromise resulted in him abandoning God. It is almost impossible in these verses to recognize the man who prayed the great dedicatory prayer at the beginning of his reign. This defection began when Solomon tolerated the presence of false gods. He did not insist that his pagan wives leave their false gods in their homeland and worship the Lord alone. He imported his wives and they imported their gods. One compromise inevitably led to another in a process of creeping idolatry. He then sponsored the presence of these pagan gods by building places of worship for them. The place where these pagan altars were built became known as “the Hill of Corruption.” It lasted until it was destroyed more than 300 years later by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:13). Solomon’s sin did not stop at toleration or sponsorship. He actually bowed in worship to false gods, offering sacrifices to them. Polytheists in the ancient world tended to worship the gods of nations that had conquered their armies. Solomon, however, was the dominant power in the region. His “God” had conquered the other nations’ gods. Why bow at the shrine of a less powerful god? Since the worship of most of these false gods was associated with sexual immorality, it seems clear that they appealed to something in Solomon’s sinful heart. Solomon continued to attend the temple and probably did many things in the Lord’s name. In reality, he was worshiping a god that looked more like him than the Bible’s God. He “did not wholly follow the Lord, as David, his father, had done.” The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. His heart was divided. Solomon fulfilled his religious duty outwardly but did not worship God with all of his heart, soul and might. He honored God with his lips, but his heart was far from Him.

What Might Have Been? (9–13)
God did not sit idly by while the king led the nation into spiritual rebellion by means of idolatry. God was outraged at Solomon’s sin. Two things made Solomon’s sin particularly outrageous. First the God of Israel had appeared to him twice. Second he could not claim that he was ignorant of God’s requirements. Through the written Word, his father’s instruction and God’s direct intervention, he had received His standards. But all of these did not keep Solomon true to God. Solomon once again met God. God charged him with covenant unfaithfulness. The Lord had repeatedly reminded Solomon that while the Davidic covenant was unconditional, covenant blessing was contingent on obedience. Because of Solomon’s rebellious attitude, judgment was sure. His sin soon would cause the nation to crash from the heights it had achieved. His idolatry would lead to idolatry among the people. Israel had begun the long road to exile, though they did not yet know that their actions entailed such consequences.   

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