And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. — 1 Kings 11:6
As an owner of a construction business, sometimes I face the challenge of finding reliable employees. One young man approached me about work, and I agreed to give him a try. For a while, he did well. He had experience and a good understanding of what we were trying to accomplish. He would do whatever I asked, and he worked hard. However, after a time, he started arriving late for work. As the days passed, he showed up later and later. More than once, I warned him that his job was in jeopardy if he continued this trend. For a few days, his punctuality would improve, but then he would slip back until, sometimes, he was an hour and a half late. Finally, although I knew he had a wife and child to support, I felt I had bent as far as I could, and I had to let him go.
Sadly, an unwise choice or act of disobedience can quickly negate all the good that has been done beforehand. If another employer had contacted me for a work reference for this man, I could have mentioned all the good things about him. However, along with those it would have been necessary to add, “but he can’t get to work on time.”
Our text begins with a small phrase that causes alarm: “But king Solomon . . .” Following those words, we find something that reversed what might have been good for Solomon. By marrying hundreds of women from surrounding nations with false religions, he did exactly what God had said not to do. These women captured his heart and led him down a road that, earlier, he would never have taken. He added something on his resume that was not there before: disobedience, and disobedience cost him God’s favor.
This account has a tragic ending. It illustrates that, as important as a good start is, a good finish is even more important. It will do nothing for us if we eventually decide to do things our own way. If we continue to faithfully follow the Lord, we can avoid any discrediting items on the “resumes” of our lives. May God help us realize that details do matter, and we can retain God’s best if we simply continue to obey Him.
Chapters 2-10 of 1 Kings tell about Solomon’s carefulness in building the Temple, and how God’s Spirit filled the Temple so powerfully at its dedication. Those chapters speak of Solomon’s humility and his God-given wisdom that amazed so many who traveled to hear his words. His untold wealth and the respect the surrounding nations had for him are noted.
In chapter 11 the story changes. Solomon’s glorious reign was clouded by a great mistake — his marriage to hundreds of women from other nations. The text tells us that he clave to these in love. Many of these women (700 wives and 300 concubines, according to 1 Kings 11:3) were idolaters, and for them he built heathen temples and altars, allowing into Israel’s kingdom religious practices that his father David had tried so hard to suppress. Though Solomon had known and benefited from God’s approval in his life, his heart was swayed by his many marriages and associations, and he chose to honor their desires rather than please God (11:3-8). Verse 6 says that Solomon “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord.” God’s warning regarding heathen marriages is in verse 2.
Although polygamy (marrying more than one woman) occurred under the Law of Moses, it was contrary to God’s plan for marriage. In Deuteronomy 17:17, kings were commanded not to marry a great number of wives. Solomon however did as the other nations and married numerous wives for political alliance and prestige.
The text mentions some of the false gods that Solomon turned to: Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Molech (11:5, 7). Ashtoreth (Ishtar is possibly the same god) was considered the goddess of love and fertility, the giver of life, and was worshiped throughout the region of Palestine. Chemosh was the national god of the Moabites. Some think that perhaps Chemosh and Molech were the same god. Molech was the national god of the Ammonites, and children were sacrificed in his worship. Solomon courted disaster in his decision to allow the worship of these strange gods, bringing an end to his reign and contaminating Israel’s worship of the true God. (See “Pagan Gods” supplement.)
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reign of Solomon
G. The apostasy of Solomon (11:1-40)
1. The polygamy and idolatry of Solomon (11:1-8)
2. The anger of Jehovah (11:9-13)
3. The chastisement of Jehovah (11:14-40)
a. The rise of Hadad, the Edomite (11:14-22)
b. The rise of Rezon of Syria (11:23-25)
c. The rise of Jeroboam (11:26-40)
H. The death of Solomon (11:41-43)
Wisdom must be applied in order for it to help us. We may have knowledge, but we must put it to use in order to benefit from it.