Saturday, December 10, 2011

1 Kings 11 - Solomon's Downfall and Death

LINK: 1 Kings 11

BACKGROUND

The king who asked for wisdom and understanding to govern his people and wrote many wise proverbs was not very wise when it came to his personal life. God anticipated this, and we read about it back in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. To refresh your memory, here is a summary of that post:
Deuteronomy 17 deals with officiating idolatry. This chapter also holds a foretelling of Israel's rule by kings. This will come about as the theocracy set up by God will unravel in the book of Judges and a monarchy will be set up in 1 Samuel. God knew all of this. So, He spoke through Moses about the qualifications of a future king of Israel. There were three "don'ts" and one "do": 
DON'T ACQUIRE 
  • Horses - Solomon will not honor this - Kings 4:26  
  • Many Wives - Solomon will not honor this - 1 Kings 11:3 
  • Large amounts of gold and silver - Solomon will not honor this - 1 Kings 10:14 
DO FOLLOW 
  • The Law of God - Solomon did not honor this - 1 Kings 11:11 
(Here is the entire post: Deuteronomy 17)
Solomon governed wisely and his reputation brought him acclaim and riches throughout the region, but he did not follow these simple commands above! Marrying foreign wives led him into worship of their many gods and "his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:4). 

Here is a rundown of the gods mentioned in this chapter:

  • Ashtoreth was the goddess of sex and reproductive power, a mistress of Baal. The worship involved licentious rites and worship of the stars. She was a vile goddess (2 Kings 23:13).  

  • Molech was the national god of the Ammonites. Worship of him involved human sacrifice, especially children.  

  • Chemosh was the national god of the Moabites. Israelites were warned against worshiping all gods, but Molech was singled out in Exodus 20:1-6, Leviticus 18:21, and 20:1-5.
God warned Solomon in 1 Kings 9 that if Solomon strayed into paths of idolatry and immorality, He would discipline him, and God declared in 11:11, "I will certainly tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant."

Then, God told Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah that He will tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hands and give him ten tribes. Stay tuned.

REFLECTION

Solomon did not end well. He did not follow his own proverb: "A man's own folly ruins his life" (Proverbs 19:13). I am sure it did not happen all at once. He made little decisions that led to major consequences and eventually "turned his heart away from God."

I have been evaluating my "little decisions" lately. It is easy to let compromise creep into my life. 

Solomon had this pattern:
  • He resisted idolatry and maintained his heart for God. 
  • Then, he tolerated idolatry around him. 
  • Finally, when he was involved in idolatrous worship, he rationalized the potential danger for himself and his kingdom.
In the end, he had a divided heart, and this resulted in a divided kingdom.

APPLICATION

How is your personal life? Are there any places where you are going down that slippery slope from resisting to rationalization? There are so many "gray" areas in our culture today. There is entertainment that is not explicitly sinful, but does it divide your heart? There are certain activities that are not sinful, in and of themselves, but do they take you away from God's best? It is not legalism if our heart is to want God's best.

Journal about this, and pray that God would give you clarity. 

PRAYER

I have been meditating on Romans 12:1 -2 from The Message. Allow this passage (and the way I structured it) to lead you in prayer:
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: 
Take your everyday, ordinary life -- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life -- and 
place it before God as an offering. 
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. 
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. 
Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll change from the inside out. Readily 
recognize what He wants from you, and quickly 
respond to it. 
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to it level of immaturity. 
God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 


Lord, help us to offer our lives wholly to You and to fix our attention on You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen

This concludes the historical narrative for our first year of the Bible Book Club and the end of the united kingdom of Israel! We will close out the year with Solomon's reflections on life in Ecclesiastes and a couple of Messianic Psalms that foreshadow JESUS! 
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