Where Compromise Takes You
Explore the Bible Series
December 26, 2010
Background Passage: I Kings 9:10-11:43 (II Chronicles 8:1-9:31)
Lesson Passage: I Kings 11:1-13
This lesson addresses the successes and failures of the last twenty years of the United Monarchy (Kings Saul, David, and Solomonóc. 1025-1005 B.C.) and the reign of King Solomon.† Israelís glory reached its apex during the rule of Solomon: international prestige, impressive building projects, military prowess, and unrivaled wealth.† However, the last years of Solomonís monarchy signaled moral and spiritual problems that would trouble Israel for many years.
In some ways, this seems one of the saddest stories in the Bible.† Solomon rode the crest of Israelís wealth and power, and he acquired a personal fortune and an expansive harem of the regionís most desirable women.† Foreign dignitaries travelled to Israel to behold the splendor of Israelís king.† Many believe that the kingís wisdom is preserved in some of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon; so, if these scholars are correct, this impressive monarch wrote much of the Old Testamentówhat an extraordinary resume!† Sadly, during the last twenty years of his reign, Solomonís spiritual life spiraled into a pattern of compromise and idolatry.
During my early years in the ministry, I had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time conversing with Pastor Ernest Reisinger.† Among the many bits of wisdom I received from Ernie, I most remember his concerns about growing old.† Though my senor by thirty-six years, I marveled at his ability to communicate with an inexperienced, immature, youthful pastor.† On more than one occasion I heard Ernie pray that he would not live, in his senior years, in a manner that would undo the work of his youth. My mentor was right about the unique temptations of later life.† Many years have passed, and, no doubt, I stand nearer the end of my journey than the beginning.† Ernieís prayers and Solomonís example provide ample warning for those of us who no longer relish the promise of youth.† I note several dynamics at play as I grow older.
I. A Summary of Solomonís Building Projects (9:10-28)
A. Strained relations with Hiram (9:10-14): Hiram, king of Tyre, enjoyed warm relations with David and Solomon, and he struck a covenant with Solomon to provide cedar and cypress wood to build the Temple (also, Hiram sent a storehouse of gold††††††††††††††† according to 9:14).† In exchange, the King of Israel agreed to provide wheat and olive oil to the people of Tyre (See I Kings 5:9-11); however, after the completion of the House of God, Solomon failed to fulfill his part of the bargain.† Rather than provide the wheat, Solomon proposed that Hiram receive several Galilean cities.† The Galilean cities did not impress Hiram, cities he called Cabul (ďworthlessĒ).† Perhaps financial reversals persuaded Solomon to change the stipulations of the covenant; or, as some have suggested, the king had a deceitful, duplicitous dimension to his character.†
B. Indulgence in slave labor (9:15-21): Solomonís ambitious building program led him to enslave citizens of vassal nations: Amorites, Hittites, Perezzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. In addition, he drafted his Jewish subjects to serve as soldiers, and government officials, a practice that eventually enraged the citizens of the Northern Kingdom.
C. The results of Solomonís labors (9:23-28): Slavery and administrative organization allowed the king to complete an impressive array of building projects: a palace for Pharaohís daughter (one of Solomonís many wives) and a naval fleet.† Despite some disturbing character flaws, Solomon continued to worship Jehovah (See 9:25).
II. The Apex of Solomonís Power (10:1-29)
A. The visit of the Queen of Sheba (10:1-13): Scholars believe this woman governed the dominant nation of the Arabian Peninsula.† She marveled at the reputation of Solomon, and, driven by her curiosity, the queen travelled to Jerusalem to test the kingís wisdom.† The two monarchs sparred for a time, but Solomon exceeded all of the queenís expectations by satisfactorily answering all of her riddles.† In particular, the woman seemed impressed with Solomonís God who had given such wisdom and wealth to the Israelite king.† The two rulers exchanged extravagant gifts, and the Queen of Sheba returned to Arabia. We should note, fables abound concerning a romantic relationship between Sheba and Solomon; indeed, some accounts speculate about an illegitimate child, born to Sheba and fathered by Solomon.† The biblical text gives no hint of credibility to these stories.
B. Solomonís great wealth and military prowess (10:14-29): This catalog of Solomonís splendor is breathtaking; however, this opulence certainly contributed to the kingís spiritual decline.
III. The Spiritual Demise of King Solomon (11:1-43)
A. Solomonís compromise with idolatrous wives (1:1-9): Like his father before him, Solomon had a weakness for women, and, in this case, he gave his heart to foreign wives: Egyptian, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite.† He married 700 women and took 300 concubines!† Most of these marriages, of course, were political arrangements, but clearly the king had deep emotional bonds with some of these women.† In time, the wives turned the heart of Solomon, and he compromised his faith.† We should not imagine that the king completely abandoned Jehovah; rather, he simply expanded his worship to include other gods.† Not content with half-hearted idolatry, he erected elaborate temple structures for the worship of these false deities. Paul House outlines several principles that Solomon violated.
1. He violated, obviously, the First and Second Commandments (See Exodus 20:1-6).
2. He disobeyed Godís commandment concerning marriage with non-covenant people (See Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
3. He broke his covenant with God (See I Kings 3:1-14; 6:11-13; 9:1-9).
B. Godís displeasure with Solomonís idolatry (11:10-40): Solomonís compromise angered the Lord, and, in his displeasure, he determined to rip the kingdom from Solomonís descendants.† In particular, Jehovah pledged to raise up enemies to trouble Solomonís reign: Hadad the Edomite, Rezone the Syrian, and Jeroboam the Ephraimite.† Each of these marauders held long-standing grievances against David and Solomon, and God unleashed their wrath to chasten Solomon. The rebellion of Jeroboam proved particularly devastating to Godís people, and led to a permanent division of the Hebrews. The text gives no indication of Solomonís repentance or remorse for his moral failures.