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A melancholy account is here given of Solomon's fall. His many wives and concubines, in his old age, lead him into idolatry. The Lord's displeasure. Solomon's chastisement, and death. An account of his successor in the kingdom.
1 Kings 11:1
(1) ¶ But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
What an awful account doth this chapter begin with concerning Solomon. Observe in what the evil opens; the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Not only many bad women, but many strange women; that is haters of the God of Israel, concerning which the Lord had strictly commanded Israel never to intermarry. Deuteronomy 7:2-4 .
(2) Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. (3) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. (4) For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. (5) For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (6) And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. (7) Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. (8) And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
It is worth remarking how subtle the enemy of souls acted upon Solomon. Had Solomon begun without the instrumentality of women exciting his lusts, to depart from the Lord, the strength of his temptation would have been lessened. But by this inlet to the corruptions of nature he gradually paved the way for idolatry. So Balaam advised Moab concerning Israel. The daughters of Moab fascinated the poor Israelites by their charms, and when once they had been brought to prostitute their bodies the transition was soon made to the prostitution of their souls. Compare Numbers 25:1-2 ; Revelation 2:14 . But Reader! pause over the alarming account as it refers to Solomon. Well may everyone that reads it cry out, Lord! what is man! Is this Solomon, the beloved, the Jedidiah of the Lord? Is this he who built the temple; and now over against it sets up an high place for the dunghill idol of Moab! Oh! precious, precious Jesus! I would say for my Self and Reader, Keep us, dearest Lord, keep us by thine almighty power through faith unto salvation!
(9) ¶ And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, (10) And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. (11) Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. (12) Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. (13) Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.
Reader! let me beg you to make all suitable improvement of what is here contained within those verses. And may the Holy Ghost bless the reading of it to both our souls. Observe! how aggravated the sin of Solomon was, because it was in direct opposition to the former gracious manifestations the Lord had condescended to make him. And observe also how the Lord keeps account how often he visits his people. Sweet thought to the believer! Jesus marks down in his book of remembrance all his gracious love visits, though our forgetful hearts pass them by. And observe, moreover, from this passage, how very piercing the sins of believers are, above all others, to the heart of Jesus. Reader! think of this as it concerns yourself. Hath the Lord Jesus manifested himself otherwise to you than he doth to the world? hath God the Father given you Jesus? Hath the Holy Spirit set his love upon you, and opened to your view the glories of Jesus? And must not every act of unkindness after such tokens of special and distinguishing favor, be very, very cutting to the heart of so gracious a God; Hath not such a God in covenant a right to demand more from such souls than from all the unenlightened nations of the earth? May not every disobedient child of God hear that expostulating voice speaking to him after every transgression; "I awakened thee from darkness, delivered thee from Satan, gave thee redemption, and Jesus with all his mercies; for which of all these blessings is it, that thou thus rebellest against me?" But Reader! in the midst of our view of Solomon's crying sins, and the Lord's judgment, do observe how the name of David is introduced, as the cause for which he shall find mercy. And thus in the covenant of redemption for the sake of David's Lord, the gracious terms are the same. Sweet thought! both from our relation to Jesus, our Spiritual Head and Surety; and from the ransom Jehovah hath received in him; believers though chastened, are saved. See that sweet scripture; Psalms 89:30-37 .
(14) ¶ And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom. (15) For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom; (16) (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) (17) That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child. (18) And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land. (19) And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. (20) And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh. (21) And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country. (22) Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.
God had said that he would chastise David's son with the rod of men, if he swerved from his duty; and the Lord can never long want an instrument for the accomplishment of the purposes of his will, whenever this is the case. See 2 Samuel 7:14-15 .
(23) And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: (24) And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. (25) And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.
Observe, that though both Hadad, as one of the seed of Edom, and Rezon, the Syrian, were alike natural foes to Israel; yet it is the Lord's hand that is here pointed out as raising them up. Yes! the devil and all his host, though sworn foes against God, and his Christ, can wage no war while the Lord restrains. Oh! it is proper in all our visitations humbly to enquire of the Lord concerning the affliction that, as Job saith, we may say unto God, show me wherefore thou contendest with me, That which I see not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Job 11:2 ; and Job 34:32 .
(26) ¶ And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.
Here is first introduced the person of Jeroboam, of whom, in after ages, such an awful character is given. When the Lord chastiseth his children, as in the case of Solomon, what detestable characters, as instruments, he is pleased sometimes to make use of.
(27) And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father. (28) And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.
Those particulars concerning Jeroboam are here spoken of, as the cause, according to the mind of the man, for which he became Solomon's enemy; but we know that the thing was of the Lord.
(29) And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: (30) And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: (31) And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (32) (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) (33) Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. (34) Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: (35) But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. (36) And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. (37) And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. (38) And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee. (39) And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not forever.
The sweetest and most precious part, and to be regarded with peculiar emphasis on our minds in the reading of those verses is, the cause assigned why only ten tribes, and not the whole of Israel, should be in the hands of Jeroboam; namely, because in the seed and lineage of David Christ was to come. Hence David's stock must not be lost; that lamp must not be put out, but preserved for God's anointed. Sweet consideration! and Reader! do not overlook at the same time the precious interest all the spiritual seed of our Jesus have in it. In Jesus all his people, all his seed, are equally preserved. So Jehovah hath said, and so his people ought most firmly to keep in remembrance upon all occasions. See that blessed scripture to this effect; Isaiah 59:21 . Reader! mark it down. The blessing is still in it. "Destroy it not, " one saith; for Jesus's sake, Jehovah's servant, it shall be preserved. Isaiah 65:8 .
(40) Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
No doubt as the prophet Ahijah had signified the advance of Jeroboam, the king became acquainted with it, alas! how could Solomon be led away to conceive his weak attempts should be able to defeat the Lord's designs.
(41) ¶ And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? (42) And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. (43) And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
Here ends the history of Solomon, and which is the history of all men. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Not so thy death, thou glorious Solomon of thy people; for by thy death thou hast overcome death, and hast opened views beyond the grave, of the everlasting mansions of the blessed. Thy soul was not left in hell, neither did thy flesh see corruption. Hail! thou glorious, all-conquering Lord! Psalms 16:10 .
READER! in the fall of Solomon let us learn what human nature is in its highest attainments. Who that beheld Solomon in his dedication of the temple; who that heard his sweet and gracious prayer on that occasion; who that contemplated the Lord God in his condescending visits, and revelations, and promises, to him; would ever have conceived the thought that this wonder of wisdom, this devout, highly favoured servant of the Lord, should have apostatized to such an extreme length, as not only to drown his body in filthy lusts, but sink his soul into idolatry. Oh! sad instance of human depravity! Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askelon!
But Reader! when you and I have duly pondered over Solomon's history, let us look at our own. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall! Lord! give we to see, and feelingly to acknowledge, that by nature all men are the same. All equally prone to evil; and all, but for the blessed influences of preventing and restraining grace, subject to the same sin and condemnation. Oh! dearest Jesus! let a deep sense and conviction of this truth lead my whole heart to thee! Lord! keep thy servant from presumptuous sins, that I may be innocent from the great transgression.
But principally, and above all, blessed Lord! let the view this chapter holds forth of Solomon direct my soul to the clearest and most settled conviction, that as all have sinned, and come short of thy glory; so nothing but thy precious blood and righteousness can be the sinners refuge, and the sinners salvation. Yes! blessed Jesus! do thou fix and engrave in my heart this most unquestionable truth. It is thou, and thou only, whose finished work in redemption hath made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in an everlasting righteousness. May it be my happy portion to be found in thee, having redemption in thy blood, the forgiveness of all sins, according to the riches of that grace, whereby we are made accepted in the beloved!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany