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51. I Kings 11: “Faded Glory”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 5/21/2015
(edited September 2020)
Last month we took a tour of the Temple that King Solomon built for the Lord in Jerusalem. Tonight we’re checking back into the Book of I Kings, as Solomon’s story continues:
Verses 1-2: “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: 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.”
The Great Temple in Jerusalem was a Holy place. And, as we saw last month, even while under construction, it was blessed by God. But worship of God in the completed Temple focused on the external or what could be seen. What I mean is, you could go through the rituals there without necessarily focusing your heart on the Lord. And so it was, even with the man who built the Temple, and I’m not saying that Solomon wasn’t called by God and anointed by God or that he didn’t know God. I’m not trying to say that at all. Solomon was as righteous as could be, as far as the rituals of the Temple and the Old Covenant could bring righteousness. But that didn’t work out to be enough in Solomon’s time, and it isn’t in our time either!
Even the called of God – even “God’s man” has to DO things God’s way. Each person, in order to please God, HAS TO stay close to Him, and love Him, and continue loving the Lord. That just didn’t happen with King Solomon.
Verses 3-4: “ And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 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.”
We aren’t here to condemn, but to try to learn something that can help us in our struggles. Today, right now, I need to make sure that I’m not just going through rituals at church, or in my private worship. I want to go to church, I definitely need to go, but I don’t want to worship church. I don’t want to worship the act of worship, either. I need to participate, but only in ways that help me to draw closer to God “on the inside.” Also, we should respect our leaders in the church, but the good ones will tell you, we do not worship them. We, who trust in Christ, must not let any man or woman, even a dear Christian relative, come between us and our personal relationship with God.
Verses 5-6: “ For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.”
Each Christian must also “go after” the Lord. It’s an individual, daily, choice. And when we make that choice to follow Him then we must trust in Him. Only He has the power to keep us close. But if we deliberately go in another direction, as Solomon is doing here, no amount of Temple rituals or religious rites (not even the title of “King of All Israel”) can make things right.
God is a 100% Lover of us! He won’t accept 99% of our love in return. I’ve found that out many times in my life, friends.
Verses 7-8: “ 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. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.”
Only God really knows what’s in a person’s heart, but sometimes our actions do reveal much about what is inside us.
Verses 9-10: “ And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.”
Solomon wasn’t just “mistaken” about who to worship. He had been told directly not to do this. As has been true of me sometimes, he knew better but he did it anyway. Now, the Lord loves Solomon. That’s WHY He is upset with him! Note how the Lord laments having reached out to Solomon, only to be rejected in this way by the very King of His People. Imagine that. But that’s a real characteristic of love, isn’t it, taking a chance on being hurt or rejected? We often concentrate on the cost we might have to pay to Love God, but He pays a cost to Love us, too!
Verses 11-13: “ 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. 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. 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.
King David wanted to build the Temple at Jerusalem, but the effects of constant wars had prevented him. Then his son, Solomon, came to power and suddenly peace broke out in the land. It was God’s mercy. And God is STILL showing mercy to Solomon for the sake of David. But the peace that had freed them up to build the Temple is beginning to crumble. God isn’t attacking His people. THEY are moving away and out from under His protection. Internally or externally, we cannot not find peace either, or at least, we can’t hold on to peace, unless we make true peace with God. And that is why Solomon has some real problems right now.
Three men are rising up to bring war back to Ancient Israel:
Hadad, the Edomite
Verses 14-22: “ And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom. 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; (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Rezon of Syria
Verses 23-25: “ And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: 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. 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.”
And finally, we are introduced to the man who will officially divide the God’s People through civil war:
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite
Verses 26-28: “ 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. 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. 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.
These men were all marginal in their importance and relationship to Ancient Israel. Had Solomon followed the Lord as David had done, not one of these men could have ever harmed the King or the Nation. We need to remember this lesson, I know I do: when I disobey and turn away from the Lord, it strengthens His enemies. Think about it. I don’t want to be the one who strengthens the enemies of the Lord and of His Truth today, would you?
But amazingly, even among some of His earthly enemies, the Lord is always seeking someone who will obey Him. Make no mistake, if we turn our back on God, He will keep looking until He can find someone who will obey Him! Look at what the Prophet Ahijah is instructed to say to this Jeroboam:
Verses 29-37: “ 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: And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: 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: (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:) 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. 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: But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. 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. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.”
The faith of one person can make all the difference in a given situation, and so can the spiritual failure of one person.
Verses 38-40: “ 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. And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever. 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.”
It is a privilege, not a right, for us to serve God, today. If I turn away and fail to serve Him in the way He has called me to, He will find someone else to do the work. In the end, it will be my loss, not God’s loss. We need to be jealous of the Lord’s work, today, not wanting anyone else to have to take over our portion of it.
Verses 41-43: “ 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? And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.”
And so the story of Solomon comes to an end. We are not his judge, I sure ain’t. I don’t want to leave you with the feeling that I disrespect that magnificent Temple either, and the glorious ancient kingdom that Solomon originally facilitated and oversaw. Solomon and all the Old Testament folks have moved on now. They are in the Lord’s hands. It’s you and I who must press on now and stay faithful and close to God. We have a new King in Jesus and a New Kingdom that is not of this world at. And in Our NEW Covenant we must worship in a New temple. Is it as majestic as Solomon’s Temple? I think it can be more. Listen as the Apostle Paul describes it in his New Testament letter to the Gentile believers in the City of Corinth. Let’s honor God in His Temple, today!
I Corinthians 1:19-20
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”