By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Mobile
1 Kings 11:1–13
Warning Ignored (1–3)
Our greatest enemy is most often ourselves, and our most painful wounds are often self-inflicted. No one illustrates this truth better than King Solomon. He rose faster and flew higher than anyone in his generation.
His contemporaries must have believed his kingdom would endure for a thousand years. Although Solomon never faced a significant enemy on the battlefield, he lost his biggest battle — the one with himself. He is living proof a gifted mind is no substitute for an obedient heart.
When we compromise our relationship with God, we set in motion a course of events that destroys what we value and results in the judgment of God. Solomon disobeyed God’s commandment when he “loved many foreign women.” Earlier the writer stated Solomon “loved the Lord” (1 Kings 3:3).
These are clearly incompatible loves. God commanded the people of Israel not to intermarry with foreigners because they would turn the people’s hearts away from the One True God (Deut. 7:1–4).
Solomon chose wives from the very nations God had prohibited. Most of these marriages would promote peace and strengthen trade between the nations.
He rationalized the marriages as a means of national security when they were actually an act of rebellion. Good relations with the surrounding nations became more important.
Although the Scripture declares Solomon loved many foreign women, it is impossible for any man to love 700 wives and 300 concubines.
These women were trophies for the purpose of enhancing his status and power. They revealed the sin sickness of his soul.
A Divided Heart (4–8)
It is difficult to recognize in these verses the man who prayed the great dedicatory prayer at the beginning of his reign. Solomon’s descent down the slippery slope of religious compromise began when he allowed the presence of false gods in Jerusalem. He imported his wives, and they imported their gods.
One compromise led to another. He built places of worship for Chemosh and for Milcom on the hill across from Jerusalem. The place where the pagan altars were built eventually came to be known as the Mount of Destruction.
This abomination would continue for more than 300 years until it was destroyed by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).
Solomon’s sin progressed from toleration to sponsorship to bowing down before and offering sacrifices to the false gods in worship. In the ancient world, polytheists would worship the most powerful gods in their region. They often worshipped the gods of nations who had conquered their armies or the gods of more powerful nations. Solomon, however, worshipped the gods of people he defeated. Why bow at the shrine of a less powerful god? The worship of most of these gods was associated with sensuality and immorality. They appealed to something in Solomon’s sinful heart.
Discipline Promised (9–13)
God’s third appearance to Solomon was different. God would not allow Solomon to trifle with Him. Solomon was aware of God’s commandments through the written Word, his father’s instruction and God’s direct intervention.
In this appearance, God charged Solomon with being unfaithful to His covenant. The Lord had repeatedly reminded Solomon that while the Davidic covenant was unconditional, covenant blessing was contingent on obedience.
God would tear away the kingdom from Solomon and give it to His servant. But the Davidic covenant would be fulfilled in God’s timing.