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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

1 Kings 11

Verse 9

DISCOURSE: 337
SOLOMON’S FALL

1 Kings 11:9. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.

IF we had beheld the temple of Solomon, with all its exquisite workmanship, destroyed, as soon as it was finished, methinks we should have wept over it as a calamity never to be forgotten. But we are now called to survey a far more grievous desolation, even the destruction of the fairest edifice that ever was raised,—the soul of Solomon. Most eminently had the grace of God wrought in him, as all his preceding history informs us. Since the foundation of the world there was not a grander spectacle, than that of Solomon elevated on a brasen platform in the midst of the temple, and crying unto God with bended knees and out-stretched hands in the behalf of himself and people to their latest posterity. But “how is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed!” We behold in nature some clouds occasionally obscuring the brightest sky, and sometimes even the meridian sun eclipsed; but here was such an eclipse as never had been seen, since Adam fell in paradise: here was the brightest day turned suddenly into the darkest night; the most eminent of saints relapsing into a state of most aggravated and abiding transgression.
Let us turn, like Abraham surveying the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrha the morning after they were destroyed [Note: Genesis 19:27-28.], and contemplate,

I.

The fall of Solomon—

In order to get a just view of it, let us distinctly notice,

1.

How it began—

[It began the very instant he was raised to the throne, though in a way that was not perceived by him at the time. We do not condemn him for marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, because we take for granted that she was a proselyte to the Jewish faith. That she was so, may be presumed from the very circumstance of his connexion with her; for we cannot conceive that he would have so grossly violated the divine law as to marry an heathen woman, at the very time that his piety was so transcendently conspicuous: and this presumption is confirmed by the circumstance, that amongst all the idolatrous temples that he built for his other wives, he never erected any for the idols of Egypt. But the evil of which he was guilty in the commencement of his reign was, the offering of sacrifice in high places, instead of confining himself to the altar which was in the tabernacle. We are decidedly of opinion that he should not have done this himself, nor should he have suffered his people to do it [Note: Compare 1Ki 3:1-3 with Deuteronomy 12:2-6.]: and we are persuaded that this error, continued as it was for eleven years at least, rendered him less averse than he would otherwise have been, to the erection of temples afterwards to heathen gods.

Other evils of his which gradually crept in, were, the multiplying of gold and silver for himself; the multiplying of horses also, and that from Egypt; and, above all, the multiplying of wives. All of these things were forbidden in as plain and express a manner as could be conceived [Note: Deuteronomy 17:16-17.]: yet, as if he had never read any such prohibition in the word of God, did he go on violating it from day to day [Note: In amassing gold, not, as David, for the Lord, but for his own aggrandizement: see 1 Kings 10:21. In increasing horses; see 1 Kings 4:26; 1Ki 10:26 and especially from Egypt; see 1 Kings 10:28. In multiplying wives; see ver. 3.].]

2.

To what an extent it proceeded—

[There was not any thing more strongly prohibited in the Law than the forming of connexions with heathen women [Note: Deuteronomy 7:3-4.]: yet it was not from among the women of his own nation that he took his wives and concubines, but from among the “Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites.” What an astonishing infatuation was here! Perhaps in the first two or three instances he might hope to convert them, as Pharaoh’s daughter had been converted: but after having broken down the fence of the divine law, he roved afterwards at pleasure throughout the world. Soon the consequences which might have been expected, ensued: his heart was drawn away from God; and he not only suffered them to commit idolatry in the land, but he even favoured their idolatry, and actually built temples for their gods, and that too even in Jerusalem itself, where Jehovah’s temple was: nor did he do this only for one or two whom he peculiarly favoured, but “for all his strange wives;” yea, incredible as it may appear, he actually united with them in the worship of their idols, and alienated to them the affections due only to the God of Israel [Note: ver. 4–8. His wives turned away his heart after other gods …he went after Ashtoreth, &c.]. Who that had seen Solomon at the dedication of the temple, would ever have conceived that he should fall at last to such a degraded state as this?]

3.

With what aggravations it was attended—

[Solomon had from a child been eminently beloved of the Lord: God had even given him the name Jedidiah in token of that love [Note: 2 Samuel 12:24-25.]. He had been especially appointed to build the temple of the Lord [Note: 1 Chronicles 22:9-10.]: and both before and after he had built the temple, was honoured with peculiar visits from God himself [Note: Compare 1 Kings 3:5; 1 Kings 9:2.]. In the latter of these visits God had strongly warned him against the very evils which he afterwards committed [Note: 1 Kings 9:3-7.]: and yet did Solomon very speedily rush into the commission of them [Note: He had reigned at least twenty years before the second visit. 1 Kings 9:1; 1 Kings 9:10.]. Now these things God himself notices as aggravations of his guilt: he complains, that Solomon did these things “after God had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not do it.” Surely such ingratitude and impiety were scarcely ever combined in any other child of man!]

4.

With what consequences it was followed—

[“God was angry with him,” as well he might be; and he declared to Solomon that the kingdom of which he had rendered himself so unworthy, should be taken from him, and given to a servant of his [Note: ver. 11.]. This judgment however should be both deferred and mitigated; yet not for his sake, but for his father David’s sake. Great as David’s crimes had been in the matter of Uriah, he had never for a moment countenanced idolatry; and therefore for his sake should two of the tribes be reserved for his descendants, whilst the other ten should be rent away from them; and for his sake should the evil be deferred, till Solomon himself should be removed into the eternal world [Note: ver. 12, 13.]. Thus was the very mitigation of the punishment as humiliating, as the denunciation of it was painful. Immediately did God stir up adversaries to Solomon, to disquiet his peaceful reign, and to embitter the remainder of his days [Note: ver. 14, 23, 26–33.]. What the event of his transgression was in the eternal world, we cannot certainly declare. We hope and believe that Solomon repented, and was forgiven; (the Book of Ecclesiastes seems to have been written alter this period, and to contain the evidence of his repentance:) but there is no express mention of any such thing; so that it must remain uncertain till the day of judgment, whether he was not left to suffer the everlasting displeasure of an offended God. What a fearful thought! that so bright a sun should set at last under so dark a cloud!]

Inexpressibly awful is the account here given us. Let us now proceed to consider,

II.

The instruction to be gathered from it—

Never was a history more replete with instruction than this. We may learn from it,

1.

That temporal prosperity is very unfavourable for spiritual advancement—

[Doubtless the facility with which Solomon could gratify all his natural appetites, rendered him the more easy prey to his own corruptions: and as his carnal gratifications increased, his spiritual affections would decay. And do we not find it thus in all ages? Adversity has been a source of benefit to thousands; but few have ever been permanently quickened by prosperity. If we look into the Church of God, we shall find innumerable instances of persons, who have suffered loss in their souls, in proportion as their wealth or honours have been increased: “The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things have choked the word, and rendered it unfruitful.” The account given of Jeshurun [Note: Deuteronomy 32:15.] contains the history of many; over whose tombs it might be inscribed, “The prosperity of fools destroys them [Note: Proverbs 1:32.].”

Let us not then covet earthly gains or honours: they are but as “thick clay” around the feet of one that runneth in a race [Note: Habakkuk 2:6.], or as a garment that obstructs the motion of his legs [Note: Hebrews 12:1. εὐπερίστατονἁμαρτίαν.] — — —]

2.

That however advanced any man may be in age or piety, he is still in danger of falling—

[It is said of Solomon, that, “when he was old, his wives turned away his heart [Note: ver. 4.].” Had it been in the days of his youth, we should have the less wondered at his folly; because versatility of mind is incident to that time of life: but after years of wisdom and piety, to turn in old age to such extreme folly and wickedness, what shall we say? Well may we exclaim, “Lord, what is man?” Can any thing speak more loudly to us than this? Can any thing more strongly enforce that warning of the Apostle, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall?” O “let us not be high-minded, but fear.” “Let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into God’s rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.” This is certain, that, as our wickedness shall not be remembered if we truly turn from it, so “neither shall our righteousness be remembered if we turn from that.” It is not he who “runs well for a season,” but “he who endures unto the end, that shall be saved.” If we turn back, at whatever period of our life it be, “we turn back unto perdition.” Let all of us then cry to God, “to hold up our goings in his paths, that our footsteps slip not.” Our motto to the last must be, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” To all then, whatever eminence they may have attained, I would say, as our Lord did to his disciples, not only “Remember Lot’s wife,” but, Remember the fall of Solomon.]

3.

That smaller sins, if not guarded against in time, will issue in the greatest—

[Solomon might frame some excuse to himself for the sins in which his fall commenced: he worshipped on high places, because the temple was not yet built: he multiplied wives and concubines, because his father had had several before him: he procured much gold, and a multitude of horses, because they would add to the splendour of his court, and perhaps also to his security. But he found at last what a dangerous thing it is to tamper with sin, or to deviate knowingly even an hair’s. breadth from the divine commandments. Sin will soon blind the eyes, and harden the heart, and sear the conscience. Sin is a downward road, whereon, if we fall, our descent may soon be accelerated beyond a possibility of recovery. A leak may appear but a small thing; yet will it sink a ship, if left without timely repair. The voice of inspiration suggests to us, “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” Let us not then account any sin small: let us watch and pray against every deviation from the divine commands: and, from a sense of our own blindness, let us pray to God, “Search thou me, and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”]

4.

That every sin we commit is aggravated by the mercies we have received—

[This, as has been observed, was intimated by God in the case of Solomon: and the universal voice of Scripture attests the same. “If our Lord had not come and spoken to the Jews, they had been comparatively without sin:” but his discourses and his miracles rendered them altogether without excuse; insomuch, that “it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that generation.” In like manner we are told, that the superior information of a servant who knows his Lord’s will and does it not, will cause him to be beaten with more stripes, than he, whose ignorance forms some kind of plea for his neglect.
What then will be the state of us who have had such ample instruction, and such repeated warnings? If our minds have never been awakened, our misimprovement of the means of grace has involved us in the deeper guilt: but if the Lord has ever “manifested himself to us as he does not unto the world,” and we have turned back from following him, our guilt is proportionably increased; so that “it would have been better for us never to have known the way of righteousness, than, having known it, to turn from it.”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/1-kings-11.html. 1832.