1 Ki 11:1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
2 Chron 9-10
Josh 14 – division of the land into 12 tribes. Judges rules until the people asked Samuel for a king. 1 Sam 8 God gives a king over a unified nation – Saul. He fails, is succeeded by David. He established Jerusalem as capital. Solomon appointed to succeed. He succeeded by Rehoboam. Solomon’s building programme – heavy taxes. Shrines to other gods. Kingdom to be torn apart. Rehoboam to rule over two tribes in the south – Judah and Benjamin, with Jerusalem as capital. Jeroboam to rule over 10 tribes in the north – Israel.
‘While stopping short of questioning his basic commitment, and certainly allowing that he was blessed by God in a tremendous way, our authors have hinted throughout 1 Kings 1-10 that all is not well with Solomon’s heart (e.g. 3:1-3; 4:26,28; 5:14; 6:38-7:1). The prayer of 8:22-53 and God’s response in 9:1-9 have, however, made clear both the importance of keeping the law and the consequences of disobedience; read in this context, 9:10-10:29 have sounded ominously like the climbing of the mountain just before the fall. That fall is now reported as the authors, returning to the marriage/worship theme of 3:1-3, come out in open critique of Solomon and describe the inevitable consequences of all that has gone before. His sins have found him out, and they have led him to apostasy.’ (Provan)
Chapters 1-10 have been mainly entirely positive about Solomon (see especially the glowing report in 10:14-29. This chapter, describing the end of his life, comes as a virtual slap in the face.
King Solomon…loved many foreign women – Though he loved the Lord, 3:3, he had not heeded the warning of Deut 7:3f; Ex 34:11-16.
The main problem is not his affluence, indulgence, extravagance and oppression, but ‘other gods’. This is ‘first commandment stuff’ (Davis).
Here is the tragedy of ‘a story that begins with ‘Solomon loved Yahweh’, 3:3 and ends with ‘King Solomon loved many foreign women’, 11:1. How these ‘book ends’ should sober us. Where are my affections? Has an imperceptible drift taken place in them over the years? Am I headed for tragedy because I have left my first love?’ (Davis)
1 Ki 11:2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.
Solomon held fast to them in love – ‘Held fast’ translates a term that appears in Deut 6:5; 10:12,20; 11:1,22; 13:4; 30:20 and is used there of the unswerving loyalty that the Lord demands.
1 Ki 11:3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
He had seven hundred wives…and three hundred concubines – This does not necessarily mean that Solomon was consumed with lust, for many of the marriages were political, aimed at cementing alliances with other nations. But the text is clear that his love for these women distracted him from his love for Yahweh, and that they led him astray.
1 Ki 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
As Solomon grew old – ‘It was not some sudden attack or irresistible assault that explains Solomon’s plunge into pagan ecumenism. No, it took years – the result of the creeping pace of accumulated compromises, the fruit of a conscience de-sensitized by repeated permissiveness.’ (Davis)
‘How [this] text ought to goad older believers to pray the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Mt 6:13a. Is there not a warning to churches as well, who have a fixation on youth mnistry and a love affair with young marrieds and/or young families? Need we not exercise far more vigilance over our over-sixties crowd, many of whom will doubtless meet the major troubles of their lives in their final years?’ (Davis)
His wives turned his heart after other gods – ‘The heart’ is referred to 5 times in vv2-4. When we use the term, we tend to think of feeling as opposed to thinking (’His heart ruled his head’). But in Hebrew thought both thinking and feeling are included: the heart is ‘the willing, loving, thinking centre of the person…We are dealing with the invisible and the internal. Let me remind you that this is the Old Testament. Do you see how internal Old Testament faith is?’ (Davis).
The Lord demanded undivided loyalty, Deut 6:5, but Solomon’s heart was divided.
Whatever David’s faults may have been, he did not turn to other gods.
1 Ki 11:5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
This verse indicates the Solomon did not only build shrines for the gods of his wives, but that he also participated in the idolatry that was entailed.
‘Solomon’s choice of gods makes no sense. In the ancient world polytheists tended to worship the gods of nations who had conquered their armies or at least the gods of countries more powerful than their own. Ironically, Solomon worships the gods of people he has conquered and already controls. What could he possibly gain from such activity? The whole episode makes no sense, just as idolatry itself makes no sense.’ (NAC)
Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians – A fertility goddess, rather appropriately for Solomon. See Judg 2:13.
Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites – An astral deity to whom human sacrifices were made. See Zeph 1:5; Lev 20:2-5; 2 King 23:10; Lev 18:21; Jer 32:35.
1 Ki 11:6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
He did not follow the Lord completely – He did not renounce Yahweh, but gradually allowed his wives and their gods to draw him away.
1 Ki 11:7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
Chemosh – Probably, like Molech, an astral deity.
1 Ki 11:8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
1 Ki 11:9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
The Lord became angry with Solomon – This is no surprise, given the breaches of the first commandment, and neither is the announcement that the kingdom is to be torn from him, given 2:4; 8:25 and 9:4f.
‘Of all the sins recorded in Scripture, God takes idolatry the most seriously, for no other sin has the capability of wrecking the entire covenant by itself. When this sin is committed, God acts swiftly, justly, and redemptively, as Israel discovers in Exodus 32-34; Numbers 20; and the entire Book of Judges. It is natural, then, to read that God “became angry with Solomon.” The Lord has revealed himself to Solomon, blessed him, and honored him. In return Solomon has turned his back on the Lord.’ (NAC)
‘His anger flows out of his jealousy for supreme place in his people’s worship and affection (and jealousy is simply the character of any love that is worth its salt when that love has an exclusive claim).
Davis points out the the Bible reader is not surprised by the Lord’s angry response. ‘But out culture is shocked by the Lord’s anger, for he does not conform to canonical human expectations…The answer of the biblical Yahweh bother contemporary man because it clearly tells him that the God of the Bible is not a pluralist. He does not fit our times and mentality. Why should he be so irate because someone (like Solomon) wants to spread his liturigcal devotion around, to expose himself to other religious traditions, or to broaden one’s horizons by investigatin alternative forms of human spirituality? Folks in our time want to truck with a God who will brook no rival, nor do they want to face Yahweh-in-the-flesh who sits on Galilee’s shore, peers across the fire, and assumes he has the right to keep probing us about our love for him, Jn 21:15.17.’
1 Ki 11:10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.
1 Ki 11:11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.
1 Ki 11:12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son.
1 Ki 11:12: “I will not do it during your lifetime” – God limited his promise of destruction in two ways: “Not now,” v12, and “Not completely,” v13.
1 Ki 11:13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
1 Ki 11:14 Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.
1 Ki 11:15 Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom.
1 Ki 11:16 Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom.
1 Ki 11:17 But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father.
1 Ki 11:18 They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food.
1 Ki 11:19 Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage.
1 Ki 11:20 The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh’s own children.
1 Ki 11:21 While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. Then Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me go, that I may return to my own country.”
1 Ki 11:22 “What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?” Pharaoh asked. “Nothing,” Hadad replied, “but do let me go!”
1 Ki 11:23 And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah.
1 Ki 11:24 He gathered men around him and became the leader of a band of rebels when David destroyed the forces of Zobah; the rebels went to Damascus, where they settled and took control.
1 Ki 11:25 Rezon was Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel.
1 Ki 11:26 Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon’s officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.
Jeroboam – He is from Ephraim, one of the northern tribes. He was in a position to challenge Solomon’s power base in the south.
1 Ki 11:27 Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father.
1 Ki 11:28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph.
‘Jeroboam had “success” written all over him – seemed to be an energetic worker and natural leader.’ (Davis)
‘Ironically, Solomon chooses, promotes, and gives a power base to the man who will end the Davidic dynasty’s rule over Northern Israel.’ (NAC)
1 Ki 11:29 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country,
Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh – ‘Ahijah?s prominence in this story begins the prophets? role as major players in the history of Israel. Of course, earlier prophets impact Israel’s story, such as Samuel and Nathan, but the prophetic movement now becomes even more significant. In the rest of 1, 2 Kings the prophets act as God?s spokespersons, as anointers of new kings, as miracle workers, and as Israel?s overall covenant conscience.’ (NAC)
1 Ki 11:30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces.
The new cloak he was wearing – The text is slightly unclear as to whether this was Ahijah’s or Jeroboam’s cloak. Most take it to be the former.
1 Ki 11:31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes.
1 Ki 11:32 But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe.
“He will have one tribe” – The arithmetic (10 + 1 = 12) is puzzling. It is likely that in the two tribes, Judah is assumed, with Benjamin being counted as the second.
In any case, God’s judgement honours previous commitments: the covenant king (David, v34) and the covenant place of worship (Jerusalem, v32,36) cannot be completely obliterated.
1 Ki 11:33 I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did.
1 Ki 11:34 ” ‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes.
1 Ki 11:35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes.
1 Ki 11:36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.
1 Ki 11:37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel.
1 Ki 11:38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.
1 Ki 11:39 I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’”
The judgement, then, is ‘affliction but not abandonment.’ (Davis)
‘It’s no fun to go from living in the Golden Age to surviving under the Torn Kingdom, but one can endure with Yahweh’s anchor, “but not forever”.’ (Davis)
1 Ki 11:40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death.
Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam – It seems that Ahija’s prophecy had prompted Jeroboam to rebel, even though it had been clearly stated that the ‘tearing’ of the kingdom would not occur during Solomon’s lifetime, but during that of his son. Jeroboam was not prepared to wait for God’s time.
1 Ki 11:41 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign—all he did and the wisdom he displayed—are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon?
1 Ki 11:42 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.
1 Ki 11:43 Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.
P.R. House (NAC) suggests the following applicational implications from 1 Kings 9:10-11:43:-
‘Individuals and churches often come to pivotal moments in their lives. Actions and decisions at these strategic times need to be sound, or their consequences may be unpleasant. This section of 1, 2 Kings illuminates what readers or hearers of its words may expect when faced with life’s turning points. Therefore, the first point of emphasis is that persons and congregations must learn to discern when a pivotal moment has arisen. For some the moment occurs after a time of great success, while for others it comes after a failure, and for still others after one of life’s normal passages, such as marriage, graduation, or retirement. Proper assessment should help faithful persons stay on course.
Second, when people disappoint us, it is important to remember that God remains trustworthy regardless of how unstable people may be. God made eternal promises to David and made sure those promises were kept. God’s people can be confident, then, that the Lord never judges incorrectly, never breaks faith, and never holds a grudge. God’s word is certain and thus a foundation for hope.
Third, God’s use of prophets indicates that the Lord always finds ways to reveal warnings, encouragement, and counsel. Chief among these means, of course, is Scripture, as the author?s repeated allusions to the Pentateuch indicate. Yet God also uses persons to confront or to counsel other persons. The prophets are good examples of the difficulty, yet importance, of sharing God’s truth with other persons.
Fourth, the ramifications of Solomon?s actions should give us further food for thought when we are tempted to sin. Individual sin affects the whole community, especially when that sin is committed by the leader of a group, whether of a nation, a church, or a family. Each person must therefore examine the wider consequences of his or her actions. This principle is particularly true in spiritual matters, since one?s relationship to God is more important than any other issue in life.
Fifth, Solomon?s idolatry in his time emphasizes the need for faithfulness in today?s postmodern, pluralistic society. Multiculturalism, competing worldviews, and fear of appearing narrow minded are not new. Biblical characters from Abraham and Moses, to Daniel and Esther, to Paul and John faced the same problems. Unlike these persons, Solomon chose to please his wives, give in to competing religions, and worship other gods. Monotheism in its Christian expression insists that anyone may trust Christ but also that there is no other way of salvation (Exod 20:3-11; Deut 6:4-9; Acts 4:12). People of faith may suffer for this conviction, yet the effort must be made for the world to come to God.’