Consider helping today!
SOLOMON'S DEFECTION.—The observant reader will have already remarked in this history some intimations of Solomon's approaching fall. Among these are, first, the repeated warnings which are addressed to him, especially in 1 Kings 9:6-9, and, second, his repeated transgressions of the law by which he ruled. We have already heard of the multiplication of silver and gold (1 Kings 10:14-25), in defiance of Deuteronomy 17:17, and of the multiplication of horses (1 Kings 10:27-29), in disregard of Deuteronomy 17:16 of the same chapter. We now read how the rain of this great prince was completed by the multiplication of wives. The historian obviously had the words of Deuteronomy 17:1-20. in his mind as he wrote. It is remarkable that the chronicler is altogether silent as to Solomon's fall, as he is also as to David's sin.
1 Kings 11:1
But [Heb. And. This chapter is a direct continuation of the preceding. LXX. κὰι ὁ βασιλεὺς κ.τ.λ. The polygamy was but a part of his worldliness, like the chariots, gold, etc.] king Solomon loved [The LXX. ἦν φιλογόνης. is misleading. It is perfectly clear that it cannot have been mere sensuality led to this enormous harem. This is evident from
(1) his time of life. It was "when he was old"—i.e; when passions are not at their strongest—that his wives turned away his heart.
(2) The number—if the numbers are to be trusted—of his wives. A thousand concubines cannot be kept for mere purposes of passion.
(3) The large number of princesses, which shows that the object of this array of mistresses was to enhance his state and renown. As he exceeded other kings in glory, wisdom, and power, so must he excel them not only in armies, chariots, and horses, but also in the number of his wives. It is clear, therefore, that the "lust of the eye" and "the pride of life" had their part in this huge establishment. "The same consideration of state which leads a Western prince or noble to multiply horses, leads an Eastern prince to multiply wives, with often as little personal consideration in the one ease as in the other" (Kitto) ] many [He is blamed for their number. This was against Deuteronomy 17:17] strange [not merely foreign, though that is the primary meaning of the word, but strange as opposed to a lawful wife. Cf. Proverbs 5:20; Proverbs 6:24; Proverbs 7:5, etc. No doubt the harlots in Israel were principally aliens] women, together with [וְאֵת־בַּת־כי i.e; praeter filiam Ph. (Maurer). Pharaoh's daughter is regarded as his lawful wife] the daughter of Pharaoh [see note on 1 Kings 3:1], women of the Moabites, Ammonites [Heb. Moabitesses, etc. Perhaps these two nations are mentioned first because such alliances as these, though not forbidden in terms by the law, would nevertheless, from its spirit and bearing towards these races, be looked upon with especial disfavour. If the Ammonite or Moabite was not to be received into the congregation until the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3); if the Israelite was not to seek their peace or prosperity all the days of his life (verse 6), then the idea of intermarriage with them must have been altogether repugnant to the Hebrew polity, as indeed we may gather from the book of Ruth], Edomites [Favourably distinguished (Deuteronomy 23:7) from the two preceding races. The Edomite was a "brother." His children of the third generation might enter into the congregation], Zidonians [Rawlinson thinks this word lends "some countenance to the tradition recorded by Menander, that Solomon married a daughter of Hiram, king of Tyre." But such tradition was sure to arise; the uxorious character of Solomon and his close relations with Hiram are quite sufficient to account for its growth. And a daughter of Hiram would hardly have been passed over without special mention], and Hittites [see on 1 Kings 10:29].
1 Kings 11:2
Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel [Of the nations just enumerated, the law expressly forbade marriage with the Hittites alone (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4), though the Zidonians are probably to be included, as being Canaanites (Genesis 10:15). But the principle which applied in the ease of the seven nations of Canaan applied equally to all other idolaters. "They will turn away thy son from following me," etc. (Deuteronomy 7:4). The spirit of the law, consequently, was as much violated by an Edomite or Ammonite as by a Hittite alliance], Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you [much the same expression Joshua 23:12. The historian does not cite any special Scripture, however, but gives the substance of several warnings], for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods [cf. Exodus 34:16]: Solomon clave [same word Genesis 2:4] unto these [emphatic in Heb. "even to these," instead of cleaving to God (Deuteronomy 4:4; Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 30:20, each of which has the same word as here), and despite the prohibitions of the law, etc.] in love.
1 Kings 11:3
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses [These may have been members of royal or princely houses of neighbouring nations. Evidently they enjoyed a distinguished rank], and three hundred concubines [Though not committed to a defence of the accuracy of the figures 700 and 300 (which are clearly round numbers), it must be said that the reasons alleged for reducing them are not of much weight. It is hardly correct, e.g; to say (as Rawlinson) that the numbers are given in Song of Solomon 6:8 as "threescore queens and fourscore concubines," for it is obvious that too much importance must not be attached to an obiter statement ("there are threescore," etc.) in a poetical book, too, and one descriptive of Solomon's youth. The view of Ewald and Keil, again, that these numbers represent the sum total of the inmates of the harem at different periods of Solomon's long reign, rather than the number present at any one time—they would see in the numbers of Song of Solomon l.c. a statement of the average strength of the seraglio—though not to be described as evasive, is certainly not the natural interpretation of the words. And these numbers, when we compare them with the establishments of other Eastern potentates, are not found to be at all incredible. The commentators all remind us that Dareius Codomannus, e.g; took with him on his expedition against Alexander 360 pellices. Or if ancient history, as Rawlinson affirms, furnishes no strict parallel to these figures, the harems of modern Persia and Turkey at any rate have quite equalled that of Solomon. (See Bähr in loc.) It is true that Rehoboam had only 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), but then Rehoboam was not Solomon. If his harem was but a tithe of his father's, so also were his wealth and his power]: and his wives turned away his heart. ["Satan hath found this bait to take so well that he never changed since he crept into Paradise" (Bp. Hall).]
1 Kings 11:4
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old [As he was but sixty at the time of his death, "old" is here a relative term, and must mean "toward the close of his life," i.e; when he was about 50 or 55], that his wives turned away his heart after other gods [The text does not limit Solomon's polygamy to the time of old age, but his idolatrous leanings. I say leanings, for it is doubtful to what extent Solomon himself took part in actual idolatry. Both Bähr and Keil—the latter in opposition to the views he held in 1846—not to speak of others, deny that he shared the idolatries of his wives, and the former labours hard, and on the whole, it seems to me, successfully, to prove that he was only guilty of sanctioning idolatrous worship in the vicinity of Jerusalem. His arguments, briefly stated, are these:
(1) It is nowhere said that he "served" (עָבַד) other gods—the expression constantly used of the idolatrous kings; cf. 1 Kings 16:31; 1Ki 22:53; 2 Kings 16:3, etc.
(2) Neither the son of Sirach nor the Talmud nor the Rabbins know anything of his personal idolatry.
(3) Had he formally worshipped idols, his sin would have been greater than that of Jeroboam as to which, however, see on 1 Kings 12:29 sqq. (The "sin of Jeroboam" lay in "making Israel to sin," i.e; in forcing his people into schismatic and unauthorized worship, rather than in any practices of his own.)
(4) The expressions "his heart was not perfect," below, and "he went not fully" (1 Kings 12:6) are inconsistent with the idea of idolatry. Similarly Ewald says, "There is no evidence from ancient authorities that Solomon, even in advanced life, ever left the religion of Jahveh, and with his own hand sacrificed to heathen gods. All traces of contemporary history extant testify to the contrary". See, however, on 1 Kings 12:5]: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God [It is instructive to compare with this the words of 1 Kings 8:61, "Let your heart be perfect," etc. Wordsworth remarks that "the defection even of Solomon from God through the influence of his strange wives is one of the best justifications" of the commands of Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:2-4, etc.], as was the heart of David his father.
1 Kings 11:5
For Solomon went after [Rawlinson observes that this expression, which is "common in the Pentateuch, always signifies actual idolatry." He cites Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:2; Deuteronomy 28:14; but it should be considered that in the two passages last cited the words are added, "and served them." And the true explanation would seem to be that, though "it is not stated that Solomon himself offered sacrifice to these idols," yet "even the building of altars for idols was a participation in idolatry, which was irreconcilable with true fidelity to the Lord" (Keil). Bähr contends that the words "went after Ashtoreth," etc; no more involve personal service than the word "built" in Deuteronomy 28:7 involves personal labour; but both expressions show that he regarded these idolatries not only without disfavour, but with positive approval and practical encouragement. "It is not likely he could be so insensate as to adore such deities, but so far was the uxorious king blinded with affection, that he gave not passage only to the idolatry of his heathenish wives, but furtherance" (Bp. Hall). And the distinction, so far as the sin is concerned, between this and actual idolatry is a fine one. It is not implied, however, that Solomon ever discarded the worship of Jehovah. To the end of his reign he would seem to have offered his solemn sacrifices on the great altar thrice a year. But his heart was elsewhere (Deuteronomy 28:9).] Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians [עַשְׁתֹּרֶת , Ἀστάρτη, probably connected with ἀστήρ, stella, and star, by some identified with the planet Venus, by others with the moon, is here mentioned for the first time in the singular (Ashtaroth, plural, is found in Genesis 14:5; Judges 2:13; Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:4; 1 Samuel 12:10, etc.) With Baal, she divided the worship of the Phoenicians, the antiquity of which is evident from Genesis 14:5; Numbers 22:41. It was really an impure cultus of the reproductive powers (see below on Numbers 14:23). Interesting proof of the existence of a temple of this goddess at Sidon is supplied by an inscription discovered there in 1855 (see Dict. Bib. 1:123) ], and after Milcom [In Jeremiah 49:13; Amos 1:15, "Malcam," i.e; their king. According to Gesenius, the same as Molech (i.e; the king) in Amos 1:7, though Ewald, Movers, Keil regard them as different deities. But it seems more probable that it was the same deity, worshipped (2 Kings 23:10, 2 Kings 23:13) under different attributes. This is "the first direct historical allusion" to his worship in the Old Testament. A warning against it is found Leviticus 20:2-5. He was the fire god, as Baal was the sun god, and the sacrifices offered to him were those of children, who would seem to have not only "passed through the fire," but to have been burnt therein. Psalms 106:37, Psalms 106:38; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 23:39, etc. See Dict. Bib. 2:403] the abomination [i.e; the hateful, detestable idol] of the Ammonites. [It has been suggested (Speaker's Commentary on Le Ezekiel 20:2) that the children offered to Molech were children of incest or adultery; and we are reminded that Ammon was the child of incest. It must he remembered, however, that we have no record of Jewish children passing through the fire to Molech before the time of Ahaz (Bähr, Keil).]
1 Kings 11:6
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord [cf. Judges 2:11; Judges 3:7, etc.], and went not fully [לאֹ מִלֵא s.c. לֶלֶכֶת. A pregnant expression found also Numbers 14:24; Numbers 32:11, Numbers 32:12; Deuteronomy 1:36] after the Lord, as did David his father.
1 Kings 11:7
Then did Solomon build an high place [see on 1 Kings 3:2] for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab [The meaning of "Chemosh" is uncertain. Gesenius suggests "Vanquisher"—Chemosh was the god of war. The mention of Ashtar-Chemosh on the Moabite stone "connects the Moabite religion with the Phoenician," where Ashtar is the masculine form of Astarte, and suggests that "Chemosh was connected with the androgynous deities of Phoenicia" (Speaker's Comm. on Numbers 21:29). It is probable, in fact, that Chemosh, Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech, etc; were originally so many names of the one supreme God, worshipped under different attributes, and with various rites in different countries], in the hill that is before Jerusalem [see 2 Kings 23:13. The hill is of course the mount of Olives. The altar would seem to have stood on the south peak, which is now known, as it has been for centuries past, as the Mons Scandali, or the Mons Offensionis (the Vulg. rendering of 2 Kings l.c.) See Robinson, 1:565, 566], and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. [Ewald sees in these altars a wise religious tolerance.]
1 Kings 11:8
And likewise did he for all [having done it for one, he must needs do it for all. "No hill about Jerusalem was free from a chapel of devils" (Hall) ] his strange wives, which burnt [Heb. burning, Ewald, 335 a] incense and sacrificed unto their gods. [Observe, as bearing on the question of Solomon's apostasy, that Solomon built the altars; his wives sacrificed, etc. According to Keil, incense is here mentioned before sacrifice, because vegetable took precedence of animal offerings in the nature worship of Western Asia But it is very doubtful whether this idea was in the mind of the writer.]
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. [cf. 1 Kings 3:5 and 1 Kings 9:2. The anger arose partly from the exceptional favours which had been shown to him; cf. Amos 3:2; Luke 10:12-15.]
1 Kings 11:10
And had commanded him concerning this thing [1 Kings 9:6] that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
1 Kings 11:11
Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon [probably by a prophet, Ahijah or Iddo. There would hardly be a third appearance], Forasmuch as this is done of thee [Heb. this was with thee], and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend [i.e; despite thy great power and magnificence, thy fortifications and munitions of war] the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. [Not merely subject, but officer, employe. This made the decree the more bitter. A "servant" should be heir to his glory. For a hireling Solomon's vast treasures had been prepared. This verse should be read in the light of Ecclesiastes 2:18.]
1 Kings 11:12
Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it [The threatening had two gracious and merciful limitations,
(1) The blow should not fall until after his death (cf. 1 Kings 11:34; 1 Kings 21:29; 2 Kings 22:20), and
(2) the disruption should be but partial. There should be a "remnant" Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5, etc.] for David thy father's sake [i.e; because both of David's piety and God's promise to him (2 Samuel 7:13) ]: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
1 Kings 11:13
Howbeit I win not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe [viz; Judah (1 Kings 12:20, "the tribe of Judah only"). "Even the reservation of one tribe is called a gift" (Wordsworth) to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen. [But for this provision, Jerusalem would have ceased to be the religious capital. When the sceptre departed from Judah, we may be sure that the "envy of Ephraim" would have demanded that the city of their solemnities should be placed elsewhere—at Shiloh, which for 400 years had been God's "bright sanctuary," or at Bethel, which from far earlier times had been a holy place. See on 1 Kings 12:29, 1 Kings 12:32.]
1 Kings 11:4-8
The Sin of Solomon.
Three questions will suffice to bring this subject before us. First, what was this sin? secondly, by whom was it committed? thirdly, when, and under what circumstances?
But first, it is well we should understand what this sin was not.
(1) It was not actual idolatry. True, Solomon built the altars, but he built them for his wives (1 Kings 11:7, 1 Kings 11:8). The wisest of men never stooped so low as to "project his person" to dumb idols (note on 1 Kings 11:4). To him, an idol was "nothing in the world" (1 Corinthians 8:4). That, of all things, was "vanity of vanities;"
(2) Nor was it the outcome of simple sensuality. The wives who "turned away his heart," and to whom he "clave in love"—it was not passion but pride had collected them in such numbers under his palace roof. "His crowded seraglio was but one instance more of the sort of ambition which made him seek to surpass all men in his gardening, his agriculture, his treasures of gold," etc. (Keble). See on 1 Kings 11:1. But when he had them, he must humour them, even in their idolatries. He was very far, we may be sure, from thinking that all religions were alike, which has been "the disease of some great wits;" but he flattered himself that he was tolerant and liberal, and as he claimed liberty of conscience, so he must concede it to others.
We see, then, that the essence of this sin was that having permitted himself, or purposes of state and pride and ostentation, the love of many strange women, he permitted them, and possibly some of his subjects also, to worship their false gods. And by so doing—
1. He gave a direct sanction to superstition. He may have argued, like some in later times and some who bear the Christian name, that these things, though nothing in themselves, were all very well for women, that the ignorant must have material objects of worship, etc. But it was not thus that the God of his fathers viewed the deed. This philosophic tolerance of other creeds, He called the teaching of falsehood. This liberality, in His sight, was "damnable uncharitableness"—the expression is Jeremy Taylor's—for it was leading poor souls away from the light and changing the truth of God into a lie (Romans 1:25). It was "making the blind to wander out of the way" (Deuteronomy 27:18) in the worst possible sense of the words.
2. He encouraged immorality and cruelty. For it must never be forgotten what the "abominations" of these Semitic divinities were like. The idolatry of the East always involved impurity; hence its powerful hold on a nation like the Jews, for whom the worship of "silver and gold, the works of men's hands," could have had but little charm. Its "vile affections" (Romans 1:26) were its chief attractions. And Solomon, who knew what the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth meant, who knew how unclean were their rites, and what painful and shameful sacrifices Molech and Chemosh demanded of their votaries, nevertheless gave the word, and presently the hills about Jerusalem were crowned with chapels of devils.
3. He dishonoured the one true God. For if "Polytheism is not exclusive," Monotheism, in the very nature of things, is and must be. Its basis, its fundamental conception, is that there are not "gods many and lords many." Its keynote is the Shema Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4), "the Lord our God is one Lord." It proclaims a "jealous God" who will not give His glory to another, nor His praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8). But Solomon robbed Him of His rights; of the exclusive sovereignty and the undivided authority which belonged to Him alone. By building idol altars he claimed homage for idol deities; before the eyes of the Lord's people, he thrust rivals and pretenders on to the Lord's throne, and degraded "the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man." (Romans 1:23).
4. He defied the Holy One of Israel. For these altars of lust and cruelty were not built in a corner. They did not shrink from the light as in a past age; they were not frequented by pagani. They rose "on the hill that is before Jerusalem;" they fronted the altar of Jehovah; their priests were visible to the priests in the temple court; their smoke ascended to the sky along with the smoke of the daily sacrifice. If insult had been designed, it could hardly have been more open or obtrusive.
II. And by WHOSE permission, at whose bidding were these shrines of infamy erected? They were built by -
1. The wisest of men. In science (1 Kings 4:33), in philosophy (ib. 1 Kings 11:29-32), in self knowledge. Cf. 1 Kings 3:12, 1 Kings 3:28.
2. The most favoured and enlightened of men. The Lord "appeared unto him twice" (1 Kings 3:9). His was "abundance of revelations" (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7). To him it was said, "Ask what I shall give thee" (1 Kings 3:5). This was Jedidiah. "There was no king like Solomon, who was beloved of his God, yet even him did outlandish women cause to sin" (Nehemiah 13:26).
3. The builder of the temple. To him had been granted the high honour which was denied to pious David. He had "found a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Psalms 132:5). The golden altar, the brazen altar; he had planned and reared them both. And now he builds altars to "horrors" (see note on 1 Kings 15:13). "He that burneth incense, he blessed an idol" (Isaiah 66:3, Hebrews)
4. The teacher of the Church. He was "that deep sea of wisdom which God ordained to send forth rivers and fountains of all Divine and human knowledge to all nations, to all ages;" he was "one of those select secretaries whose hand it pleased the Almighty to employ in three pieces of the Divine monuments of sacred Scriptures" (Bp. Hall). He is fallen, but his writings stand. He still preaches to others, though himself a castaway. There have been authors whose pestilent writings go on corrupting and destroying souls for ages after they have ceased to speak. But Solomon's is in some respects a sadder case than theirs. His writings have taught and blessed the world for nigh three thousand years after he himself fell into "utter wretchlessness of most unclean living."
5. A man who warned others. It is only when we study his fall in the light of his prayer and proverbs, with their many admonitions, that we realize how great a wreck he became and how appalling is the lesson of his fall "Since the first man, Adam, the world hath not yielded either so great an example of wisdom or so fearful an example of apostasy, as Solomon" (Hall).
III. But WHEN was it, let us now ask, that Solomon fell into this deadly sin? At what period of his reign, and under what circumstances, did he sink to such depths of degradation? Observe ―
1. It was not after sudden or special temptation. We may truly say of him, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man." No Delilah, no Bathsheba wrought his ruin. It is instructive to compare 1 Kings 4:20-24 with the account of our Lord's temptation (Matthew 4:3-11). Solomon was not tempted by hunger; his "provision for one day was," etc. The enemy could not offer him "the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them:" he had them already (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 4:24; 1 Kings 10:1-29. passim); he could only use the common weapon of presumption, of spiritual pride, and it was by this that Solomon was slain.
2. It was not after great trials or adversity. His career, how unlike David's! "Rest on every side." "Neither adversary nor evil occurrence" (1 Kings 5:4). "Eating, drinking, and making merry" (1 Kings 4:20). Compare 1 Samuel chs. 18-30. And yet David stood and Solomon fell. What we call adversity (compare Jacob's "all these things are against me," Genesis 42:36) is often spiritual prosperity. "Tribulation" is a significant word. The tribulum was the threshing sledge which separated the chaff from the grain. It is said by some that wax is necessary for nations to preserve them from corruption and decay; it is certain that peace is not always good for princes. The man of peace and rest, who was "not plagued like other men," has furnished the world with the most terrible example of apostasy. Well may the apostle bid us to "rejoice in tribulation also," to "count it all joy when," etc. (James 1:2).
3. It was "when he was old." St. Paul speaks of "youthful lusts," but old age has its special dangers and temptations. It was in the time of mature experience, when the hot blood of youth should have cooled, when he should have known the world and his wisdom should have been ripest, that his wives turned away his heart. Perhaps he presumed upon his exalted gifts and revelations. With age came selfconfidence. It is thus that many strong cities have been taken. "Praeruptum eoque neglectum" discloses the secret of their fall
4. It was when his riches had increased. The greater his store, the leaner his soul. "It is easier for a camel," etc. (Matthew 19:24). "The deceitfulness of riches" choked the word (Matthew 13:22). The Latin proverb which says that "every rich man is either a knave or the son of a knave" has some truth in it. Happy are those who have "neither poverty nor riches" (Proverbs 30:8); happiest those who can say, "My riches consist, not in the abundance of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants."
5. It was when his prosperity was at its highest. It was when he "waxed fat" that "Jeshurun kicked." It is when men "have eaten and are full" that they most need to "beware that they forget not the Lord their God" (Deuteronomy 8:10, Deuteronomy 8:11). Observe, it was not until he had reached the very pinnacle of greatness and felicity that Solomon fell. "His prosperity, which even wise men find a constant wear and trial to the spirit, did him more harm than even his wisdom did him good". How appropriate that prayer, "In all time of our wealth good Lord, deliver us." "The food convenient which Agur prayed for is safer than the food abundant which even Solomon was surfeited with" (M. Henry).
6. It was after his wives were multiplied. Polygamy has ever been a snare to rulers. It is said that Scripture nowhere condemns it. If the letter does not, the spirit does. Scripture tells of the misery it has occasioned. Witness the families of Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, and David. It was the immediate cause of Solomon's ruin. There are few partnerships which are so lightly entered into as the one which lasts for all life. And yet how completely is a man's honour, prosperity, and peace in his wife's keeping. "How many have we known whose heads have been broken by their own rib" (Bp. Hall). It is a quaint but true saying, "If a man would thrive, he must ask his wife." How strange that he who knew the priceless value of one true woman's love (Proverbs 31:10-31) should surrender himself to immodest and forbidden attachments. Can there be a reference to his thousand wives and concubines in those pessimist words of Ecclesiastes 7:26-28? "If one woman undid all mankind, what marvel is it if many women undid one?" (Hall.) "Thou didst bow thy loins unto women, and by thy body wast thou brought into subjection" (Ecclus. 47:19).
7. It was after repeated warnings. He had had
(1) the standing warning of Scripture (Deuteronomy 17:16 sqq.),
(2) the special warnings of his father David (1 Kings 2:8, 1 Kings 2:4, and especially 1 Chronicles 28:9),
(3) the supernatural warnings of God. (1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 6:12, 1Ki 6:13; 1 Kings 9:6, 1 Kings 9:7). And to these may surely be added
(4) the repeated and emphatic warnings which he had himself addressed to others. But all these went for nothing. And so it is too probable his own words (Proverbs 29:1) found a fulfilment in his own person. The saddest consideration of all is that this great preacher has unconsciously predicted his own fall, and passed sentence on himself. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee," etc. (Luke 19:22).
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
1 Kings 11:1-8
The Fall of a King.
Solomon was a king of men. Not only was he supreme civil ruler of his nation, he was also chief in wisdom and knowledge, and distinguished in the favour of God (Nehemiah 13:26). This moral royalty is open to all. The prize is nobler than that of the most glittering "corruptible crown." From this kingship Solomon fell, though he retained the throne of the nation. The rascal often lurks in the heart that is under an anointed face. Let us consider—
I. THE OCCASION OF THIS DELINQUENCY.
1. Solomon had many wives.
(1) This was an invasion of God's order. That order was exhibited in Eden, when Eve stood singly by the side of Adam. Lamech was the first polygamist (Genesis 4:19). He was, ominously, the fifth in descent from the fratricide Cain.
(2) Moses tolerated polygamy, as he also suffered divorcements, not with approval of these customs, but rather in judgment upon the people for the hardness of their hearts (see Matthew 19:8-9).
(3) This principle will explain many Mosaic ordinations the observance of which was a burdensome yoke, and from which, by the mercy of Christ, we are happily released (Acts 15:10, Acts 15:11). Note: God's order cannot be invaded with impunity. It is our duty carefully to ascertain it, and faithfully to keep it.
2. His wives were strange women.
(1) Not only were they foreigners, they. were also idolaters. There is no proof that even Pharaoh's daughter was a proselyte. Solomon could have no spiritual sympathy with these without compromising his loyalty to Jehovah.
(2) They were idolaters of those very nations against alliances with which the law of God was express (see 1 Kings 11:2; Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:8, Deuteronomy 7:4). The sin was therefore most flagrant.
(3) The spirit of this inhibition still binds (see 1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14). The reason for it is in the nature of things and must abide. Note: Many a man has had his heart pierced and his head broken by his own rib.
3. David had too many wives.
(1) The example of David may have injuriously influenced Solomon. A large harem may have been a sign of grandeur; but these kings ought to have been superior to such fashions (see Deuteronomy 17:17).
(2) The evils in the examples of good men are especially mischievous, for they are liable to be condoned into harmlessness; the more readily so when to follow them is agreeable to natural inclination.
(3) They are liable to be carried farther. If David had many wives, Solomon had very many. David's wives were chiefly daughters of Israel, but Solomon's were daughters of foreign idolaters. Amongst his 700 wives and 300 concubines, not one was good (see Ecclesiastes 7:28). Note: Good men should be especially watchful over their influence—parents, ministers, Sunday school teachers, professors of religion.
II. THE PROGRESS OF THE EVIL.
1. First the heart is set against the head.
(1) The earliest record here is that Solomon's heart was turned away. His head at first seems to have been clear, as Adam's also was, who, though in the transgression, yet was "not deceived" (1 Timothy 2:14). But his heart, like that of Adam, was fatally susceptible to female influence.
(2) It is a foolish thing in a wise man to trust his head when he gives his heart to evil. "Man at his best is vanity."
2. Then the heart rules the head.
(1) This is the next stage and inevitable. This may be disputed long, but will assert itself in time. Observe well that when Solomon was "old" he so far yielded to the influence of his wives as to encourage and join in their idolatry.
(2) Probably his vices made him prematurely old. Calmer supposes him to have been eighteen years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned forty years (1 Kings 11:42). Thus he could be only fifty-eight at his death.
3. Finally the wise man becomes a fool.
(1) Behold this wisest of men trying to solve the impossible problem of serving Jehovah and Ashtaroth! He went not fully after the Lord his God as did David his father.
(2) David indeed fell into grievous sin, but his offence was more directly against man; indirectly against God. Even then the offence as against God was the venom of his crimes (Psalms 51:4). But the sin of Solomon was against God directly. Note: Offences against society are denounced without mercy by men, while the mental rebellion of the unbeliever against God is even glorified as "honest doubt!" but the Bible is explicit that "He that believeth not shall be damned."
(3) Behold this wise man further building a temple to Molech, the murderer, the devil, on the Mount of Olives, over against the temple of the Lord, the glorious work of his royal youth! Could folly go farther?
(4) The mischief of Solomon's idolatry remained to the times of Josiah (see 2 Kings 23:13). Who can say that it terminated even then? Eternity will declare.—M.
1 Kings 11:9-13
The Anger of God.
This is the inevitable consequence of sin. Had God expressed no displeasure against Solomon, what mischief might not his example have wrought? The terrible judgments of the great day will have a most salutary effect upon the order and stability of the whole moral universe. If men sufficiently considered these things they would hesitate before they plunged into vices. Let us be admonished from this history as to—
I. How THE ANGER OF GOD IS PROVOKED. It is provoked—
1. By the turning, away of the heart from Him.
(1) And justly so, for to do this is to outrage the highest propriety. God is everything that should engage the affections of an intelligent creature—"the perfection of beauty;" "the altogether lovely."
(2) For to do this is the straight road to the deepest demoralization. Man is made in the image of God expressly that his nature may have its perfection in union and communion with Him. To turn away from God must lead to depravation evermore. This, in other words, is everlasting damnation.
(3) Then let us keep our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). No diligence should be spared. Our life is in it.
2. By doing this wantonly.
(1) It was an aggravation of Solomon's sin that God had appeared to him. Review the circumstances of the vision he witnessed before he set about the building of the temple (see 1 Kings 3:5-15). He could not have been wholly ignorant of the glorious character of God.
(2) It was a further aggravation that God had appeared to him twice (1 Kings 11:9). Review the circumstances of the vision after the work of the temple was finished (see 1 Kings 9:1-9). Note: Privileges imply corresponding responsibilities. Note further: God keeps account of His favours conferred upon us, though we may forget them. He will remind us of them all in the great day of judgment.
(3) It was an additional aggravation that he had been forewarned of the very evils into which he fell. And the promises of God to him had been so remarkably verified that he had the best reason to accept the truth of His admonitions. How slow of heart are the men to believe the inflexibility of Divine justice!
(4) A king who exacts obedience from subjects, or a master who claims the obedience of servants, should be the last to forget his duty to God. Consider—
II. How THE ANGER OF GOD IS EXPRESSED. It is expressed—
1. In the severity of justice.
(1) The kingdom of Solomon was now doomed to be rent. He had divided his affections (between Jehovah and Molech), so are the affections of his subjects now to be divided.
(2) A considerable portion of his kingdom is to be turned over to one of his servants. What a fitness there is in this judgment also! Solomon, the servant of God, rebelled against God; Jeroboam, the servant of Solomon, rebels against Solomon.
(3) What a melancholy reversal! Time was when God loved Solomon (see 2 Samuel 12:24; 1 Kings 10:9; Nehemiah 13:26). Severe is the fall from the height of a throne. From a vastly greater elevation is the fall of one east from the bosom of God.
(4) Behold how sin works ruin! It ruins individuals, families, nations. The anger of God is expressed—
2. With the mitigations of mercy.
(1) For the sake of David his father these judgments were not to come upon Solomon in his day. We little know the benefits or the evils entailed upon us by our forefathers. We should see that we entail not evils but benefits upon our descendants.
(2) "For David's sake!" David, the beloved, was a type of Christ, for whose sake the entail of infinite mischief is cut off from his sons, and they are made heirs of inestimable blessings.
(3) Even Rehoboam was to reap the benefit of the faithfulness of David. One tribe, the most important, was to be retained to him. The promises respecting the true son of David must be fulfilled.
(4) "For Jerusalem's sake," also, mercy must rejoice upon judgment (1 Kings 11:13). The temple was there. The shechinah was there. Kingdoms are spared the severity of judgments in respect to the interests of religion in many ways little dreamed of by statesmen and rulers.—M.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
1 Kings 11:1-8
I. THE SIN.
1. Its nature. He not only aided his wives to continue their idolatrous worship, he himself participated in it. He went after strange gods, seeking their favour and observing their ordinances. The worship of Jehovah was not discarded, but delight in the true God was gone, and the flame of that loving zeal for God's commandments died away: his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God. The worship now offered in the temple was the lingering tradition of a brighter past, a thing of custom and outward necessity, and the heart was given to baser worships, sensuous and sensual The soul had ceased to drink at the fountain of living waters, and was drinking at the fountain of death. Is our heart perfect with the Lord, our delight in His love, our hunger after His righteousness as deep as in the past? Do we offer a cold and formal worship to Him, while our heart warms into living interest and strong desire only at the world's shrines?
2. Its guilt.
(1) God had given Solomon unparalleled wisdom, wealth, and power, and all were now turned against his Benefactor. All that fame and influence were used to glorify idolatry and lessen zeal for God's service. How often are God's gifts thus turned against Him!
(2) The sin of Solomon became the sin of Israel (1 Kings 11:33). The responsibility of parents in regard to their children's attitude toward God—the responsibility of the leaders of thought and of society, of all of us, as to how we influence men in their attitude toward the things unseen and eternal.
3. Its sadness. It was his last work, the sin not of youth but of old age. The light which God had kindled did not flame out into eternal glory, but went out in eternal night. The seeds of sin and disaster were sown among his people, his life a wreck, his memory not a star to guide the wanderer in the darkness, but a warning beacon on the waste of death! The story of many a life besides: will it be the story of thine?
II. WHAT LED TO IT.
1. Unregulated affections. The wisdom of marrying only in the Lord. The danger of worldly alliances and worldly friendships.
2. The despising of God's commandments (see 1 Kings 11:2, and Deuteronomy 17:16, Deuteronomy 17:17). The counsels of God were lightly esteemed. Many commands of God are today held to be antiquated and are quietly ignored. The directions of Scripture in regard to what are deemed minor things are set aside. The spirit of unbelief is there. For individuals and for churches it must prove a seed of sin and spiritual disaster.
3. The human love displaced the Divine. The spirit of disloyalty needed only a strong enough inducement to go further, and it found it here. To please his wives, altars to their gods were built on Mount Olivet, and then his own soul was taken in the snare of their abominations. The testimony which we are called to lift up in the face of all life away from God is safety for our own soul. It is hard to do it, but there is life in it for ourselves and, it may be, for others also.—U.
1 Kings 11:9-13
I. SINS ARE SET IN THE LIGHT OF PAST MERCIES.
1. Solomon's idolatry is contrasted with the advantages conferred upon him,
The Lord had appeared to him twice. The reality of God's existence and His personality had been engraven upon Solomon's soul.
2. With the commandment given. The Lord "had commanded him concerning this thing." The rebellion and ingratitude are both marked. Our sins are judged not only in themselves and their effects, but also in the light of what God has done and said to us. There is a baseness and an enmity in sin that will yet crush the sinful heart. Do we weigh sins in this way? Does our repentance read them thus? God's judgment will: "Forasmuch as this is done of thee," etc.
II. THE DIVINE JUDGMENT.
1. Hopes frustrated. Solomon may have excused his sin to himself because it conciliated neighbouring princes and nations and so strengthened his kingdom. But while he fancied himself building up, he was in reality casting down. Forgetfulness of God is forgetfulness of one's own good.
2. Pride abased. The dominion is given to a servant. There is not only loss but shame. There are first that will be last, and last first.
3. Punishment reflects sin. Solomon's rebellion and ingratitude are punished by rebellion and ingratitude. The kingdom is rent from him by a subject, and by one whom he had trusted and advanced (1 Kings 11:28). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." As the wicked have shut out God, God will shut out them.
III. THE DIVINE MERCY. In God's chastisements there is ever a gateway of kindness through which we may pass up into His forgiveness and love.
1. The judgment is delayed. It was a heavy judgment that the kingdom should be rent from his son, but it would have been an added bitterness had his own day set in disaster and shame.
2. The whole will not be taken even from his son. His seed will still reign in Jerusalem.
3. There is humbling even in the mercy. It is done for David's sake and for Jerusalem's sake. Pride is crushed beneath God's mercy as well as beneath His judgment. We are pardoned for Christ's sake and His name's sake. In the midst of rebuke for iniquity there is mercy and life for lowly faith.—U.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 11:9, 1 Kings 11:10
The Downfall of Solomon.
The fall of Solomon has appeared to some commentators incredible. As to the fact itself, however, there can be no doubt. Nor is his fall so exceptional as many suppose. Others beside this king have had pious parentage, a religious education, a promising youth, extraordinary intellectual endowments, frequent warnings of their danger, and yet have failed and come short of the glory of God. Give examples. It is noteworthy that God saw Solomon's danger and warned him of it on the evening of that day upon which his religious devotion appeared most intense. The dedication of the temple was at once the zenith of the nation's glory, and of their king's highest attainments. Describe the Feast of Dedication; the song of the people—"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, etc.;" the prayer of Solomon that this might be so; and the manifestation of the Divine Presence. Contrast this scene with the silence of the following night, in which the message of the Lord came, bidding him beware lest the emotion and resolve of the day should be evanescent (1 Kings 9:2). Our times of religious excitement are not our safest hours. Enthusiasm has its perils as well as its powers. Refer to Peter's eager protestation, and the Lord's word of caution, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have," etc. (Luke 22:31). The sins which constituted Solomon's decadence—against which, through him, we are warned—appear to have been these:
I. SENSUALITY. His base self indulgence grew upon him, as it does on any man. The life he lived was degrading to his manhood. Love became debased to lust, because it was divorced from purity. Physically, as well as morally, he became a wreck, and though not 60 years of age when he died, he was already weary, broken, and old (1 Kings 11:4). Some light may be thrown upon his downward progress by the books which bear his name, and which, if not written by him, were declarations of the experience he knew. If the Song of Solomon represents his bright youth, when love, though passionate, was undefiled, the book of Ecclesiastes is the outcry of his age, when all seemed "vanity and vexation of spirit," and when he tried once more painfully to lay the old foundation of the shattered fabric of his life (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Compare him with Samson; show how the indulgence of passion destroys kingliness. Even such sin was not beyond pardon. It would have been well for Solomon had he returned to God, as his father had done (see Psalms 51:1-19.)
II. EVIL COMPANIONSHIP (verse 2). The Israelites were often warned against marriage with the heathen. At times ordinary international intercourse was forbidden. Instances are given in which disobedience to this law of severance brought terrible effects. Some companionship is essential to man. The hermit must be a very imperfect Christian. John the Baptist was in the wilderness, but Christ, whom we follow, was ever found in the haunts and homes of men. Yet under the new dispensation the wise choice of companionship is insisted on, and provided for. The twelve apostles were associated together, as well as separated from others; and in their work they went forth by two and two. The Apostolic Church presents a beautiful picture of fellowship (Acts 2:1-47.) It is amongst the wise hearted and devout that we are to find our friends. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." The importance of this to the young, whose characters are not yet formed. Hence responsibility rests on parents, who can encourage or hinder acquaintances, and on young people themselves. He must have something of Christ's wisdom and strength, and must be animated by His motives, who, like Him, would be safe and useful amongst "the publicans and sinners."
III. EXTRAVAGANCE. The wealth of Solomon was enormous. The treasure saved for him by David seemed inexhaustible, and the tribute from other peoples (1 Kings 10:25), the monopolies granted by the king (1 Kings 10:28, 1 Kings 10:29), the importation of gold from Ophir (1 Kings 9:28), etc; brought immense revenues. The king was proportionately extravagant. See the account given of his palaces, his gardens, and his retinue. No country could long bear such a strain. Increased taxation was necessary, and this was one of the causes of the break up of the kingdom under Rehoboam. Show in modern life the temptations to extravagance and ostentation; the injury caused by these sins to a nation; the moral perils to which the extravagant are exposed; the diminution of help to God's cause and to God's poor.
IV. OPPRESSION. He appears to have copied the Pharaohs not only in magnificence, but in disregard for human suffering. The Canaanites were reduced to the position of helots; multitudes were torn from their homes to fell timber in the forests, or hew stone in the quarries. Even the Israelites had to do forced labour. Kings have responsibility to their people, as well as the people to their kings. God's laws were violated by Solomon (Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9). Show from history the Nemesis of oppression. Indicate manifestations of the spirit of tyranny in business, in homes, schools, etc.
V. IDOLATRY. Solomon erected temples to Ashtoreth, Milcom, and Chemosh. Describe the idolatries specified. All idolatry, sternly forbidden. The cultus of these deities hideously cruel, dark, impure. Heathenism degrades man and dis-honours God. Show the steps which led Solomon to the commission of such egregious sin.
(1) He was broad in his views, far advanced from the traditional knowledge of the age, and often conversed with wise men of other creeds. Slowly he lost his sense of the pre-eminence of the truth revealed to him. He saw what was true in other systems, but meantime lost his horror at what was false in them. This one of the special perils of our age; point it out.
(2) He wished all that was connected with him to reflect his own magnificence. It was not enough that his wives and concubines should be at liberty to worship their idols; they must do it splendidly, if at all, for his glory was concerned in their Ac.
(3) He would please and attract surrounding nations. This partly for commercial ends, chiefly for personal glory. Base motives lead to fake policy, and false policy prepares for national ruin.
1. The possibility of ruin to those whose religious advantages are greatest.
2. The retribution heavier in proportion as the offence is aggravated by neglected warning.—A.R.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 11:9-13
The dark omen that marred the brightness of Solomon's second vision (1 Kings 9:6) has come to be fulfilled. He was forewarned of danger and yet has fallen into it. The splendour of royal circumstance remained the same, but how completely has his true glory departed! "How is the gold become dim and the fine gold changed!" The smile of God that rested as glad sunshine on his head, has turned to "anger." The cause of the change is in the secresy of his own soul. The Scripture narrative is silent about the course of his tuner life, the phases of thought and feeling through which he may have passed; so that this sudden note of discord in the midst of the harmony strikes us with something of sad surprise. Enough, however, is said to show that it was a moral change in the man himself. The Lord God of Israel had not changed in His purpose or method; it is Solomon whose "heart is turned from him." How far this was a fatal change, a real apostasy, we know not. We need not attempt to solve the purely speculative question as to whether he ever recovered from his fall; his later writings suggest at least the hope that it was so. Enough for us now to note the facts, to trace the causes, and learn the lessons. Certain broad principles of moral life are here strikingly illustrated.
I. THE TREACHERY OF HUMAN NATURE. Beneath the fairest exterior there may be latent germs of evil that only need outward incentives to develop themselves into disastrous issues. Even the inspirations of the highest wisdom and the raptures of religious emotion may have underlying them tendencies to the grossest forms of folly and the lowest deeps of sin and shame. Solomon was sincere enough in his earlier piety, but too little alive to the slumbering forces of evil that he bore within him. His moral history confirmed the truth of his own proverb: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26). An Arab tradition says that in the staff on which he leaned there was a worm which was secretly gnawing it asunder. That worm was the hidden corruption of his moral nature. It is a solemn lesson: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." We can look upon no form of wrong doing in others without being reminded that there is something akin to it in ourselves. Concealed in our own bosoms there is that which might possibly develop into similar issues. Our only security lies in the triumph of that gracious Divine power that can thoroughly purge the fountain of the heart, and destroy there the very germs of evil.
II. THE BASE USES TO WHICH THE HIGHEST ADVANTAGES OF LIFE MAY BE PERVERTED BY THE WAYWARD HEART. Solomon's greatness became the occasion and aggravation of his fall. His royal magnificence fostered "the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life." His consciousness of power degenerated into tyranny (1 Kings 12:4; 1 Samuel 8:11). The wealth of his emotional nature took the form of illicit love and boundless self indulgence. His studious interest in Nature induced the dream of occult mysterious powers in material things, and the practice of magic arts. His intercourse with men of other nations led to his catching the infection of their idolatries, until at last the rival temples of Moloch, Chemosh, and Ashtaroth, with all their cruel and abominable rites, frowned darkly upon Olivet, over against the glorious house of the Lord on Mount Moriah. So fatally may the noblest personal endowments and the richest advantages of life foster the evil tendencies of the heart when once it has surrendered itself to their control If it be true that "there is a soul of goodness in things evil," it is equally true that nothing is so good but that the spirit of evil may transform it into an instrument of moral injury. The fascinations of outward life are full of danger when that spirit lurks within. The wealth of a man's intellectual resources, the multitude of his possessions, the range of his influence, do but put into his hands the more abundant means of wrong doing when his heart is not loyal to the good and true.
"The fairest things below the sky
Give but a flattering light;
We must suspect some danger nigh,
Where we possess delight."
This idea is not to be carried too far. Life would be intolerable on the principle of universal suspicion and distrust. The great Father of all would have His children use and enjoy freely the good of every kind that falls to their lot. But let them beware lest the spirit of evil, in some form of outward charm, through some secret avenue of soul or sense, should gain an entrance to the citadel of their heart, and "turn it away" from Him.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE RETRIBUTIONS. Solomon cannot sin with impunity. His personal defection involves the throne in dishonour and the whole nation in discord and sorrow. He had been forewarned that it should be so, and the threatenings of God are as sure as His promises. What is God's "anger" but just the reverse side of that faithfulness that secures the purposes of His grace? What are His judgments but the severer methods of His holy love? An inexorable Nemesis tracks the path of the transgressor; not a mere blind fate—not a mere impersonal law of moral sequence—but a Divine will and power, pledged to vindicate the cause of eternal righteousness. It may follow him slowly, as with "leaden foot," but sooner or later it overtakes him. "Whatsoever a man soweth," etc. (Galatians 6:7, Galatians 6:8). And though one only may sow the evil seed, how many, often, are the reapers! "The sins of the fathers are visited on the children," etc. No man can "perish alone in his iniquity." According to the range of his social relations so is the mischief his wrong doing works. When the king falls, how many fall with him! The laws of God
"must work their will,
Whatever human heart may bleed;
And more than they who do the ill
Must suffer for the evil deed."
IV. THE MERCY THAT TEMPERS DIVINE JUDGMENTS. The execution of the sentence is both delayed and modified. Not in Solomon's own reign shall the thing be done; "nor shall the kingdom be wholly torn from his house" (1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:18). This is partly from tender regard for the sacred memory of David his father, and partly, we may believe, in mercy to himself, that space may be given him for repentance (see Psalms 89:30-37). We have here a type and example of the general method of God's ways. "In wrath he remembers mercy." Something of gracious forbearance is seen in the severest of His judgments. His chastisements are fatherly. And beneath the darkest providences and the sternest retributions there is the steady flow of a loving kindness that endures throughout all generations, the strength of a covenant that shall never be broken.—W.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
1 Kings 11:9-13
After the consecration of the temple Solomon reached the culminating point of his reign, both in a spiritual and temporal point of view. His fame and his dominion continued to increase. The Queen of Sheba came from the far East to pay him homage. From this summit of glory he had a sudden and shameful fall, and became all but an apostate. This son of David, whose high honour it was to have built and consecrated the temple of Jehovah, this heir of the promises on which hung the salvation of mankind, sank into idolatry. The causes of his fall were—1st, PRIDE: he forgot to give glory to God. 2nd, LUST: strange women enticed him after strange gods (1 Kings 11:8). The fall of Solomon repeats in a manner the features of the first transgression. It began in the desire to be as God, and was consummated in the gratification of the flesh. Its emphatic warning to all God's people is, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Chastisement from God is the consequence of this fall. God had already warned Solomon that His most glorious promises were contingent on obedience to His commands. "If thou walk in my ways," etc. (1 Kings 3:18, 1 Kings 3:14). God chastens Solomon because He loves him, and does not altogether take His mercy from him, since He still leaves the kingdom of Judah to his descendants. The book of Ecclesiastes, with its blending of bitterness and repentance, is perhaps the ripening fruit of this merciful severity.—E.deP.
SOLOMON'S ADVERSARIES.—As the historian has collected together in 1 Kings 6:1-38; 1 Kings 7:1-51; 1 Kings 8:1-66, all the information he can convey respecting the temple, and in 1 Kings 9:1-28; 1 Kings 10:1-29. all the scattered notices respecting Solomon's power and greatness, so here he arranges in one section the history of Solomon's adversaries. It must not be supposed that the following records stand in due chronological order. The enmities here mentioned did not date from the delivery of the message of which we have just heard; on the contrary, the hatred and opposition of Hadad and Rezon began at an early period, though not the earliest (1 Kings 5:4), of Solomon's reign. It was only in his later life, however, that they materially affected his position and rule; hence it is that they are brought before us at this stage of the history, and also because they are manifestly regarded as chastisements for Solomon's sin.
1 Kings 11:14
And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad [in 1 Kings 11:17 written Adad, אֲדַד. Apparently this, like Pharaoh, was a title rather than a name. And, like Pharaoh, it is said to mean the sun. It was borne by a king of Edom in very early times, Genesis 25:15; Genesis 36:35, Genesis 36:39 (in the latter verse, as in Genesis 25:15, Hadar is probably a clerical error for Hadad, as the name stands in 1 Chronicles 1:30, 1 Chronicles 1:50, and רbeing so very much alike. Gesenius, however, contends that Hadar is the true reading), and was also a favourite name with the kings of Syria, especially in the forms Benhadad, Hadadezer] the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.
1 Kings 11:15
For it came to pass, when David was in Edom [2 Samuel 8:14. But the text is peculiar. Instead of "in Edom" we have "with Edom," את־אדם, unless we take את to be the mark of the accusative, which, however, there is no verb to govern. Keil interprets, "When David had to do with Edom." Bähr refers to 1 Chronicles 20:5, and Genesis 19:4, but they are not strictly parallel, and it is possible that the text is slightly corrupt, as the LXX; Syr; and Arab. must have had בהכות instead of בהיות before them "when David smote Edom." The LXX; e.g; reads ἐν τῷ ἐξολοθρεῦσαι κ.τ.λ. It was only vicariously, however, that David smote Edom, or was in Edom. According to 1 Chronicles 18:12, Abishai slew 18,000 Edomites, while Psalms 60:1-12. (title) represents Joab as having slain 12,000 at the same time and place. The two brothers were both in high command, or Abishal may have been detailed by Joab to this service], and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain [The commentators generally are agreed that these are the Israelites slain by the Edomites during an invasion of Israel, and not either the Edomites or Israelites slain in the valley of Salt], after he had smitten [rather, that he smote. This is the apodosis] every male in Edom. [This is, of course, hyperbolical (cf. "all Israel" below). It is clear that the whole Edomite nation did not perish. The words point to a terrible slaughter (cf. 1 Chronicles 18:13) among the men of war. Possibly the cruelties of the Edomites (compare Psalms 137:7; Obadiah 1:10-14) had provoked this act of retribution, as to which see Deuteronomy 20:13.]
1 Kings 11:16
For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel [i.e; the entire army, as in 1 Kings 16:16, 1 Kings 16:17], until he had cut off every male in Edom.
1 Kings 11:17
That Hadad fled [This word excludes the idea that he was carried off in infancy by servants, something like Joash, 2 Kings 11:2], he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt [cf. Matthew 2:13]; Hadad being yet a little child. [The words used of Solomon 1 Kings 3:7.]
1 Kings 11:18
And they arose out of Midian [a name of wide and somewhat varied significance. Midian embraces the eastern portion of the peninsula of Sinai (Exodus 2:15, Exodus 2:21; Exodus 3:1), and stretches along the eastern border of Palestine. The term has been compared with our "Arabia." And the indefiniteness arises in both instances from the same cause, viz; that the country was almost entirely desert. Midian would thus extend along the back or east of Edom. There is no need, consequently (with Thenius), to read מָעוֹן i.e; their dwelling. It is noticeable, however, that the LXX. reads ἐκ τῆς πόλεως Μαδμὶμ, and some of the geographers do mention a city of that name on the eastern shore of the Elanitic gulf], and came to Paran [Elsewhere Mount Paran, Habakkuk 3:3; Deuteronomy 33:2; a desert and mountainous tract lying between Arabia Petraea, Palestine, and Idumaea (see Numbers 10:12; Numbers 13:3, Num 13:27; 1 Samuel 25:1; Deuteronomy 1:1), and comprehending the desert of Et Tih. It is difficult to identify it with greater precision, but it has been connected with the beautiful Wady Feiran, near Mount Serbal, in the Sinaitic range, which would agree fairly well with our narrative]: and they took men with them out of Pavan [as guides through the desert, and possibly as a protection also], and came to Egypt [The direct route from Edom to Egypt would be across the desert of Et Tih—practically the route of the caravan of pilgrims from Mecca. But this does not settle the position of Paran, as the text seems to hint that the fugitives did not proceed direct from Edom. They may have taken refuge in the first instance amongst the tribes of Midian; or they may have diverged from the straight course through fear], unto Pharaoh king of Egypt [This cannot have been the Pharaoh who was Solomon's father-in-law, for in the first place, the flight was in the time of David, and secondly, a prince who had aided and abetted these fugitives would hardly be likely to form an alliance with their great enemy. It may have been Psusennes II.]; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals [i.e; certain cities or officers were charged with his maintenance, though, as his relations with the royal family were so extremely intimate (Deuteronomy 33:19-22), he may have been fed from the royal table], and gave him land.
1 Kings 11:19
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 [LXX. θεκεμίνα. "No name that has any near resemblance to either Tahpenes or Thekemina has yet been found among those of the period". Rawlinson adds that the monuments of that age are extremely scanty] the queen. [Heb. גְּבִירָה the word generally used of the queen mother (as in 1 Kings 15:13). Here, and in 2 Kings 10:13, however, it is used of the queen consort.]
1 Kings 11:20
And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son [otherwise unknown], whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house [A significant token of his adoption into the royal family. The weaning, which generally took place in the second, sometimes third, (2 Macc. 7:27) year,was clearly a much more marked occasion in the ancient East than it is among ourselves (Genesis 21:8; 1 Samuel 1:24) ]: and Genubath was in Pharaoh's household among the sons of Pharaoh. [i.e. he was brought up in the Egyptian harem.]
1 Kings 11:21
And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead [It comes out very significantly here what a name of terror Joab's had been in Edom and how deep was the impression which his bloody vengeance of a quarter of a century before had made] Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart [Heb. send me away], that I may go to mine own country. [Rawlinson cites Herod. 3:132-137; 5:25, 35, 106, 107, to show that refugees at Oriental courts must obtain permission to leave them.]
1 Kings 11:22
Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? [The natural inquiry of Eastern courtesy.] And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise. [Heb. thou shalt surely send me away. Rawlinson says, "There is a remarkable abruptness in this termination." But we must remember how unfinished, to our eyes, Scripture narratives constantly seem. There is no need, consequently, to suspect any accidental omission from the Hebrew text. The LXX; it is true, adds, "and Ader departed," etc; but this may be inferred from verses 14, 25. And Hadad's persistent desire to depart, for which he assigns no reason, is suggestive of the thoughts which were stirring in his soul. "The keen remembrance of his native land, his lost kingdom, and the slaughter of all his house, gathered strength within him; and all the ease and princely honour which he enjoyed in Egypt availed not against the claims of ambition, vengeance, and patriotism" (Kitto).]
1 Kings 11:23
And God stirred him up another adversary [almost identical with 1 Kings 11:14], Rezon the son of Eliadah [Often identified with the Hezion of 1 Kings 15:18, but on insufficient grounds. Whether he was a usurper, who had dethroned Hadad (see Jos; Ant; 6.5. 2), or an officer of Hadadezer's, who escaped either before or after the battle of 2 Samuel 8:3-5, is uncertain. The following words agree equally well with either supposition], which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.
1 Kings 11:24
And he gathered men unto him and became captain over a band [either of rebels before or of fugitives after the defeat], when David slew them of Zobah [Of Zobah, not in Hebrews "Them" must mean the Syrian army]: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein [As David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6), this must have been some time after the defeat of the Syrians. But Keil argues that it cannot have been in the middle or later part of Solomon's reign, inasmuch as Solomon must have been lord of Damascus, or he could not have built Palmyra. But it is not so incontrovertibly settled that Solomon did build Palmyra (see on 1 Kings 9:18) as to make this argument of much weight. And even if it were, we might still fix the reign of Rezon at an earlier period of Solomon's sway. See below], and reigned. [i.e; the band or troop of Rezon, either in the confusion of the defeat, or in some subsequent time of anarchy, took possession of Damascus, and he, it would seem, usurped the crown. The word "reigned," however (plural), is somewhat remarkable. It may perhaps be accounted for by the plurals which precede it. The insertion of one "yod" (וימליכו for וימלכו) gives the sense "they made him king," which would certainly be preferable, if the emendation were not purely conjectural.
1 Kings 11:25
And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon [We are not compelled, however, to believe that his reign lasted "all the days of Solomon." This last expression is to be taken with considerable latitude. It is an Orientalism. At the time of 1 Kings 5:4, neither Hadad nor Rezon was giving Solomon any trouble], beside the mischief which Hadad did [Heb. omits did. The construction of the Hebrew, 292b, note) is difficult. Literally, and with the evil which Hadad," etc. (comp. verse 1 of this chapter, "and with the daughter," etc; with Exodus 1:14, Hebrews) The LXX. reconstructs the text, making the following words, "and he abhorred," etc; apply to Hadad; and altering Syria (ארם) into Eden (אסם) to suit. But it is far better to understand עשָה (with our Authorized Version); i.e; beside the mischief which Hadad did (or, "beside the mischief of Hadad," Ewald). "And he (Rezon) abhorred," etc. Hadad's enmity has already been described (verses 17-22), and the historian has passed on to the case of Rezon. It is extremely unlikely that he should now suddenly recur exclusively to Hadad. It is very natural for him, on the other hand, in his account of Rezon, to remind us that all this was in addition to the mischief wrought by Hadad]: and he abhorred [Heb. loathed] Israel, and reigned over Syria.
1 Kings 11:26
And Jeroboam [Viewed in the light of their history, the names Jeroboam and Rehoboam are both instructive. The first means, "Whose people are many;" the second, "Enlarger of the people." The latter might almost have been bestowed in irony, the former by way of parody] the son of Nebat [The case of Jeroboam is now related at much greater length, not so much because of the importance of the rebellion at the time, as because of its bearing on the later history of Israel. It led to the disruption of the kingdom and the schism in the Church. It was the first great symptom of the decadence of the power of Solomon; of his decline in piety we have had many indications. We see in it an indication that the Hebrew commonwealth has passed its zenith], an Ephrathite [i.e; Ephraimite; cf. Judges 12:5; 1 Samuel 1:1. Ephraim was the ancient rival of Judah, and by reason of its numbers, position, etc; might well aspire to the headship of the tribes (Genesis 49:26; Genesis 48:19; Deuteronomy 33:17; Joshua 17:17) ] of Zereda [Mentioned here only, unless it is identical with Zeredathah (2 Chronicles 4:17) or Zarthan (Joshua 3:16; 1 Kings 4:12) in the Jordan valley. That this place was apparently situate in the tribe of Manasseh, is no argument against the identification (Bähr), for an Ephrathite might surely be born out of Ephraim. It is, however, observable that Zereda has the definite article (similarly ἡ Σαρείρα in the LXX; but this place is located in Mount Ephraim), which Zarthan, etc; have not. Hence it is probably the same as the Zererath of Judges 7:22. In fact, some MSS. read צְרֵדָה there instead of צְרֵרָה and ר dna צְand דare not only etymologically interchangeable, but are also extremely liable to be confused (see above on Judges 7:14) ], Solomon's servant [i.e; officer; cf. verse 28], whose mother's name was Zeruah [i.e; leprous. His mother's name is recorded, probably because his father, having died early, was comparatively unknown. But it is not impossible that the similarity either with Zeruiah (cf. 1 Kings 1:7) or Zererah had something to do with its preservation. The people would not readily forget that Solomon's other great adversary was the son of Zeruiah. And we have many proofs how much the Jews affected the jingle of similar words], even he lifted up his [Heb. a] hand [i.e; rebelled. Synonymous expression 2 Samuel 18:28; 2 Samuel 20:21. Observe, we have no history or account of this rebellion except in the LXX; but merely of the circumstances which led to it] against the king.
1 Kings 11:27
And this was the cause [or, this is the account; this is how it came about. Same words Joshua 5:4, and 1 Kings 9:15. We have here a long parenthesis, explaining the origin, etc; of Jeroboam's disaffection] that he lifted up his hand [Heb. a hand] against the king. Solomon built Millo [see on 1 Kings 9:15], and repaired the breaches [These words convey the impression that Solomon renewed the decayed or destroyed parts of the wall. But
(1) סָגַר does not mean repair, except indirectly. It means he closed, shut. And
(2) פֶּרֶץ sing, refers to one breach or opening. Moreover
(3) it was not so long since the wall was built (2 Samuel 5:9). It could hardly, therefore, have decayed, and there had been no siege to cause a breach. We must understand the word, consequently, not of a part broken down, but of a portion unbuilt. We have elsewhere suggested that this was the breach in the line of circumvallation, caused by the Tyropsson valley, and that the Millo was the bank, or rampart which closed it. And to this view the words of the text lend some confirmation] of the city of David his father. [As Millo was built about the 25th year of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 9:15), we are enabled to fix approximately the date of Jeroboam's rebellion. It was apparently about ten or twelve years before Solomon's death.
1 Kings 11:28
And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour [same expression Judges 6:12; Jdg 11:1; 1 Samuel 9:1; 2 Kings 15:20. In Ruth if. 1 it hardly seems to imply valour so much as wealth (as A.V.): and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious [Heb. doing fwork], he made him ruler over all the charge [Heb. appointed him to all the burden] of the house of Joseph. [The tribe of Ephraim, with its constant envy of Judah, must have been mortified to find themselves employed—though it was but in the modified service of Israelites—on the fortifications of Jerusalem. Their murmurings revealed to Jeroboam the unpopularity of Solomon, and perhaps suggested thoughts of overt rebellion to his mind.]
1 Kings 11:29
And it came to pass at that time [a general expression = "when he was thus employed"] when [Heb. that] Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem that [Heb. and], the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite [i.e; of Shiloh, as is expressed 1 Kings 14:2-4, where see notes. He too, therefore, was an Ephraimite (Joshua 16:5). This portion of the history is probably derived from his writings (2 Chronicles 9:29). We may be pretty sure that Nathan was now dead] found him in the way; and he [i.e; Ahijah. Ewald understands Jeroboam to be meant, and would see in the new garment his "splendid robe of office"] had clad himself with a new garment [שַׂלְמָה same word as שְׂמְלָה such transpositions of letters being common. The simlah was the outer garment (Genesis 9:23; 1 Samuel 21:10, etc.), which served at night as a covering (Deuteronomy 22:17). It was probably identical in shape, etc; with the camel's-hair burnous, or abba, worn by the Arabs at the present day, and being almost a square would lend itself well to division into twelve parts]; and they two were alone in the field [i.e; open country.]
1 Kings 11:30
And Ahijah caught [This English word almost implies that it was Jeroboam's garment (cf. Genesis 39:12); but the original simply means "laid hold of."] the new garment that was on him, and rent [same word as in 1Ki 11:11, 1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:13] it in twelve pieces. [The first instance of an "acted parable" (Rawlinson).]
1 Kings 11:31
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 [Keil insists that "ten" is here mentioned merely as the number of completeness; that, in fact, it is to be understood symbolically and not arithmetically. He further states that in point of fact the kingdom of Jeroboam only consisted of nine tribes, that of Simeon being practically surrounded by the territory of Judah, and so becoming incorporated in the southern kingdom. But surely, if that had been the idea in the prophet's mind, it would have been better expressed had he torn off one piece from the garment and given the rest, undivided, to Jeroboam (Bähr). And the reference to the number of the tribes is unmistakable. As to Simeon, we have no means of knowing what part that tribe, if it still existed, took at the division of the kingdom. See on 1 Kings 19:3. Its members had long been scattered (Genesis 49:7), and it gradually dwindled away, and has already disappeared from the history. But even if it had a corporate existence and did follow the lead of Judah, still that is not con. clusive on the question, for we know not only that the historian uses round numbers, but also that we are not to look for exact statements, as the next verse proves] to thee.
1 Kings 11:32
But he shall have one tribe [LXX. δύο σκῆπτρα. Some would understand "one tribe, in addition to Judah," but compare 1 Kings 12:20, "tribe of Judah only," and see note on 1 Kings 12:13. Possibly neither Judah nor Benjamin is here to be thought of separately. In 1 Kings 12:21, and 2 Chronicles 11:3, 2 Chronicles 11:23, they are both reckoned to Rehoboam. They might be regarded as in some sense one, inasmuch as they enclosed the Holy City (Seb. Schmidt), the line of division passing right through the temple platform. But it is perhaps safer, in view of 1 Kings 12:20, to understand the term of Judah, compared with which large and influential tribe "little Benjamin" was hardly deserving of separate mention) for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake [see on 1 Kings 12:12, 1 Kings 12:13], the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.
1 Kings 11:33
Because that they [The LXX. has the singular throughout, and so have all the translations, except the Chaldee. But the plural is to be retained, the import being that Solomon was not alone in his idolatrous leanings; or it may turn our thoughts to the actual idolaters—his wives—whose guilt he shared. The singular looks as if an alteration had been made to bring the words into harmony with the context, and especially with the concluding words of this verse, "David his father."] have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians [צדנין a Chaldee form. But many MSS. read צדנים], Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom [the LXX. has "their king the abomination," etc; καὶ τῷ βασιλεῖ αὐτῶν. See note on 1 Kings 11:5], 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.
1 Kings 11:34
Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom [Rawlinson says the context requires "aught of the kingdom," and affirms that the Hebrew will bear this rendering. But he surely forgets that the Hebrew has the def. art. אֶת־כָל־חַמַּמְלָכָה can only represent "all the kingdom, τὴν, βασιλείαν ὅλην (LXX.) See Gesen; Thesau. s.v. כֹל d. It would certainly seem as if this verse should speak of Solomon's retaining the sceptre during his lifetime, and not of his retaining a part of the empire. But we may not go against the grammar] 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. ["If Solomon break his covenant with God, God will not break his covenant with the father of Solomon" (Hall).]
1 Kings 11:35
But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
1 Kings 11:36
And unto his son will I give one tribe [cf. 1 Kings 11:32, note], that David my servant may have a light alway before me [The same expression is found in 1Ki 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7; and compare Psalms 132:17. Keil would explain it by 2 Samuel 21:17; but 2 Samuel 14:7, "my coal which is left," appears to be a closer parallel. The idea is not that of a home (Rawlinson), but family, issue. We speak of the extinction of a family (Bähr) ] in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.
1 Kings 11:37
And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth [We are not justified in concluding from these words that Jeroboam then had ambitious designs upon the throne (Keil). They rather mean, "as king, all thy desires shall be gratified" (cf. Deuteronomy 12:20; Deuteronomy 14:26; 1 Samuel 2:16; 2 Samuel 3:21). Bähr paraphrases "thou shalt have the dominion thou now strivest for," but we have absolutely no proof that Jeroboam at that time had ever meditated rebellion. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by this interview], and shalt be king over Israel.
1 Kings 11:38
And it shall be, if thou writ hearken unto all that I command thee [cf. 1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 9:4], 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 [cf. 1 Kings 1:37, note], and build thee a sure house [cf. 2 Samuel 7:11, 2 Samuel 7:16; i.e; a family, perhaps dynasty. Observe, however, there was no promise to Jeroboam, as there was to David, of an enduring kingdom. It was not God's design to take away the kingdom from David in perpetuity (verse 39) ], as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
1 Kings 11:39
And I will for this [i.e; the defection just described] afflict the seed of David, but not forever [Heb. all the days. Cf. Psalms 89:28, Psalms 89:33, Psalms 89:36. This limitation, "not forever." would seem to apply to the kingdom, for it was through the loss of their kingdom that the seed of David was afflicted. And if so, it promises, if not a restoration of the kingdom to the house of David, at any rate a renewal or continuance of God's favour. We may perhaps regard the promise as fulfilled in the subsequent history of the kings of Judah. Not only did the kingdom last for nearly 500 years, but the royal house of David maintained its position to the time of Zerubbabel. Nor is it to be overlooked that He "of whose kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33) was the son of David].
1 Kings 11:40
Solomon sought the efore to kill Jeroboam. [It is often assumed that Solomon's attempt on Jeroboam's life was the result of the prophecy of Ahijah. And our translation with its "therefore" favours this view. The Hebrews, however, has simply "and Solomon sought," etc. And these words connect themselves with 1 Kings 11:26, "even he lifted up his hand," etc. With 1 Kings 11:27 a parenthesis begins, explaining how it came about that Jeroboam rebelled. It is implied distinctly that it was because of Ahijah's prophecy. That prophecy, however, was in no sense a justification of treason or attack on Jeroboam's part. The fact that God had revealed His purposes was no reason why Jeroboam should forestall them. David knew and others knew that he was destined to be king, but he piously left it for God, in His own time and way, to place him on the throne. And Jeroboam's rebellion is the more inexcusable, because Ahijah had expressly stated that Solomon was to retain the kingdom during his lifetime. However "he lifted up his hand;" there was some overt act of rebellion, and Solomon, because of this, and not because of the prophecy, sought to slay him. Nor was the king without justification in so doing. Treason must be promptly suppressed, and treason against a benefactor (see 1 Kings 11:28) is doubly hateful.] And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt [cf. 1 Kings 11:17, and Matthew 2:13. It was the natural place of refuge], unto Shishak, king of Egypt [Shishak is beyond doubt the Sheshonk I. of the monuments, and is the first of the Pharaohs who can be identified with certainty. The date of his accession appears to be somewhere between 988 and 980 B.C. As to his invasion of Palestine, see on 1 Kings 14:25. His reception of Jeroboam almost proves that there has been a change of dynasty, and that the new Pharaoh was no friend to Solomon], and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. [Compare again Matthew 2:15.]
1 Kings 11:41
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? [The sources of this history are mentioned more specifically in 2 Chronicles 9:29.]
1 Kings 11:42
And the time [Heb. days] that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. [Josephus, here as elsewhere, doubles the figure, making his reign to have lasted eighty years. It is somewhat remarkable, but affords no just ground for suspicion, that each of the first three kings of Israel should have reigned just forty years. "Such numerical coincidences occur in exact history. Saosduchinus, Chiniladanus, and Nabopolassar, three consecutive kings of Babylon, reigned each twenty-one years" (Rawlinson).]
1 Kings 11:43
― And Solomon slept with his fathers [see note on 1 Kings 2:10. For the later and often mythical accounts of Solomon, see Ewald, 3. pp. 318, 319. The question of his repentance is discussed by Keble, "Occasional Papers," pp. 416-434], and was hurled in the city of David his father; and Rehoboam his son [So far as appears his only son. "Solomon hath but one son, and he no miracle of wisdom." "Many a poor man hath a houseful of children by one wife, whilst this great king hath but one son by any housefuls of wives" (Bp. Hall). It is worth remembering in this connection that Psalms 127:1-5; which speaks of children as God's reward (Psalms 127:3), is with good reason ascribed to Solomon] reigned in his stead.
1 Kings 11:31-35
The Punishment of Solomon's Sin.
We have lately traced the gradual declension in piety of this most puissant prince; we have seen him steadily sowing to the wind. The next thing Scripture records concerning him is the retribution which befel him. It is now for us to see him reaping to the whirlwind.
But in considering the recompenses of his sin, it is essential to remember—
1. That we can only speak, because we only know, of the temporal punishment which attended him. It may be that was all. Possibly the flesh was destroyed that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:5). It may be that, foully as he fell, he did not fail finally, but of this no man can be certain. There is every reason to think that the question has been "left in designed obscurity", that no one might presume. It may be, therefore, that he still awaits the just recompense of wrath in the day of wrath (Romans 2:5).
2. That if this temporal punishment does not strike us as severe—considering the enormity of his sin and the greatness of the gifts and privileges he had abused—it is partly because the temporal punishment was mitigated for his father's sake. The avenging hand could not smite Solomon without at the same time hurting David. We are expressly told that Solomon was maintained on the throne all his life, and that one tribe was given—the word implies that the gift was unmerited—to his son, for David's sake (1 Kings 11:34-36). If, therefore, we are tempted to think that the punishment was not exemplary, let us see in it an instance of God's "showing mercy unto thousands" (sc; of generations, Exodus 20:6)—a proof of the Infinite Love which "remembered David and all his afflictions" (Psalms 132:1). But such as it was, it was sufficient to teach us these two lessons at least.
1. "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
2. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
For this retribution was of two kinds. There was—
I. THAT WHICH SOLOMON SUFFERED IN HIS OWN PERSON; and,
II. THAT WHICH HE SUFFERED IN HIS FAMILY AND KINGDOM. Under the first of these categories the following penalties are to be ranked:
1. His life was shortened. Probably by the operation of natural laws. It is not suggested that he was directly smitten of God; it is quite possible that his rank voluptuousness destroyed his energies and induced premature decay. But all the same his days were cut short. Not only was long life the principal sanction of the dispensation under which he lived, but it had been expressly promised him as the reward of piety (1 Kings 3:14). But his sun went down while it was yet noon. He was not sixty when the mandate went forth, "Remove the diadem, and take off the crown" (Ezekiel 21:26). And if it be true, what Dr. Johnson said to David Garrick when the latter showed him his elegant house at Richmond, that great and rare earthly possessions "make deathbeds miserable," it must have cost Solomon a sharp pang to leave so soon his cedar palace and his chryselephantine throne.
2. His life was embittered. If, as is most probable, we have in the book of Ecclesiastes a chapter of his autobiography, it is clear that his glory brought him little satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 3:1-22. passim; Ecclesiastes 5:13; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Ecclesiastes 7:26); there was a worm at the root of all his pleasures. Of what avail were his houses, his gardens, his pools of water, etc; so long as he had not the heart to enjoy them?
"It is the mind that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch'd or happy, rich or poor,
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but seeks a greater store."
He knew nothing of "the royalty of inward happiness." How different St. Paul, "Having nothing, yet possessing all things," etc. (2 Corinthians 6:10). What a commentary on the "confessions" of Solomon, as they have been called, with their everlasting refrain, their vanitas vanitatum, is that confession of a man who suffered one long martyrdom of pain—the Baptist minister, Robert Hall—"I enjoy everything."
3. He was tortured by remorse. This is not expressly stated, but surely it may with good reason be inferred. For the wisest of men could not be so insensate, when he heard the message of doom (1 Kings 12:2), as not to reflect how different his end was to be from his beginning; how fair the flower, and how bitter the fruit. Surely the cry he has put into others' lips would often rise from his own, "How have I hated instruction," etc. (Proverbs 5:12).
4. He was haunted by forebodings. "This great Babylon" which he had builded, how soon should it be destroyed. The empire which he had consolidated should barely last his life. "One tribe"—how those words would ring in his ears! Then he had good reason, too, to fear that his son was one of the class he had himself described (Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 19:18. Cf. Ecclesiastes 2:19), and no match for Jeroboam, of whose designs upon the throne he cannot have been ignorant (1 Kings 11:26, 1 Kings 11:27). He had the mortification of knowing that his "servant" would enter into his labours. And to the prospect of dissensions within, was added the certainty of disaffection without. Hadad and Rezon were already on his border, and were only biding their time. The political horizon was indeed black and lowering.
5. He was harassed by adversaries. For it is clear from verses 14, 28, 26, that Solomon's enemies were not content to wait for his death. Damascus was a thorn in his side. Egypt was a hotbed of intrigues. The profound peace which he once enjoyed he had lost. The clouds of war were not only gathering, but some of them had burst. His throne of ivory and gold can have been but an insecure and uncomfortable seat for some time before he vacated it.
II. But men like Solomon think of posterity and of posthumous fame as much as of themselves. If every father has "given hostages to fortune," how much more vulnerable is a king in the person of his successor. Let us now trace the calamities which betel Solomon's house and kingdom.
1. In the infatuation of his son. Was there ever a political crisis so wofully mismanaged as that which marked Rehoboam's accession? A few pacific words, a graceful concession, and all would have gone well. But his brutal non possumus precipitated his downfall. It was enough to make Solomon turn in his grave. But it is for us to remember that "his mother's name was Naamah, an Ammonitess" (1 Kings 14:21, 1 Kings 14:31). And this is the result of multiplying wives.
2. In the dismemberment of his kingdom. The vast empire which Solomon had founded with so much care and pains, how short a time sufficed to tear it asunder. What a contrast between the "one tribe" with its barren territory, and the description of 1 Kings 4:20, 1 Kings 4:21. How had he spent his strength for naught, or rather for his slave Jeroboam, who inherited all the fairest and wealthiest portions of the realm. And this was the end of his land hunger—that he was left with the desert of Judah.
3. In the invasion of Shishak. For he had not long slept with his fathers when the vast treasures which he had lavished on the palace of the Lord and his own palaces were carried away to Egypt. All the precious metals which David had accumulated, all the acquisitions of Solomon's fleets, all the royal offerings of the queen of Sheba and of tributary kings—gone to the sons of the stranger, to the swart children of Ham. He had amassed prodigious wealth, but it was for aliens and enemies. Not only the shields and drinking vessels, but the candlesticks, bowls, and the very laminae which had glorified the sanctuary, all fell to the invader. What a case of Sic vos non vobis! What would Solomon have said could he have foreseen Rehoboam's "Brummagem" shields, and the punctilious ceremony with which they were paraded and preserved? And this was the end of multiplying silver and gold to himself. He had put it all into a bag with holes (Haggai 1:6).
4. In the demoralization of his people. For the idolatries of Judah, the images, the groves, the Sodomites (1 Kings 14:23), were but the continuation and development of the idolatries which Solomon had inaugurated. His son did but reap the crop which himself had sown. Nay, so exact is the lex talionis that we presently find a queen of Judah erecting a "horror" for the most shameful of rites (see note on 1 Kings 15:13). And this was the result of building altars for his queens and princesses "on the hill that is before Jerusalem," that within a few years the Lord's people, whose was the law and the temple, etc; built them high places, etc; "on every high hill and under every green tree" (1 Kings 14:23).
5. In the captivity of the nation. For the dispersion and enslavement of the Jewish people, though only consummated some four centuries later, and though it was the retribution of a long series of sins, was nevertheless, in a sense, the result of Solomon's sin. That is to say, his sin was (as 1 Kings 9:1-28. 1 Kings 9:6, 1 Kings 9:7 show) the first beginning of that ever deepening apostasy from the Lord, of which the captivity was, from the first, denounced as the punishment. Other princes no doubt followed in his steps and filled up the measure of iniquity, but the Grand Monarque of their race had first showed them the way. And so the people who had held sway even to the Euphrates were carried beyond the Euphrates, and those who had seen subject kings in their land became subjects in a foreign land (cf. Jeremiah 5:19). How full of instruction and warning is it that the captivity which Solomon foretold (1 Kings 8:46) he should have done so much to precipitate. He predicted, i.e; both his own and his nation's downfall.
6. But the multiplication of horses, that too, like the other sins, seems to have brought its own peculiar Nemesis. For whence, let us ask, came the army that pillaged Jerusalem, and carried off the treasures of the temple? It came in the footprints of the horses. First, the invasion of Solomon, and then the invasion of Shishak, "with twelve hundred chariots and threescore thousand horsemen" (2 Chronicles 12:8). And what came of the horses supplied to the Tyrians and Hittites? See 1 Kings 20:1 ("horses and chariots;" cf. 1 Kings 20:25); 1 Kings 22:31; 2Ki 6:15; 2 Kings 7:6, etc. It is extremely probable that the cavalry he supplied to foreign kings became an instrument in their hands to scourge his own people. Nor is it wholly unworthy of notice that the murderer Zimri was "captain of half the chariots" (1 Kings 16:9). Assuredly, that unhallowed trade did not go unpunished.
Such, then, is the principal moral of this history: "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god" (Psalms 16:4). And among the additional lessons which this subject teaches are these:
(1) That where much is given, much will be required;
(2) That judgment begins at the house of God;
(3) "He that knew his lord's will and did it not shall be beaten with many stripes;"
(4) "Every transgression and disobedience shall receive its just recompense of reward;"
(5) "If God spared not the natural branches," etc.
HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD
1 Kings 11:14-25
Premonitions of Wrath.
Though the full weight of the judgment of God upon the sin of Solomon was not to come upon him in his lifetime, yet did he not, in this world, go altogether without punishment. The foreknowledge of the evils to come upon his family and people was in itself a heavy affliction. But in addition to this, the evening of his days was doomed to be disturbed. To this end—
I. GOD STIRRED UP ADVERSARIES AGAINST HIM.
1. In themselves these were inconsiderable.
(1) Hadad the Edomite! What can he do? He is indeed of the seed royal of Edom, but then Edom is tributary to Solomon, and Hadad in an exile in Egypt.
(2) Rezon the Syrian! What can he do? He was only a captain under Hadadezer, king of Zobah, whom David defeated, and who fled with his men, over whom he seems to have acted as a chief of banditti.
2. But they have been quietly acquiring influence.
(1) Hadad, who was a lad when he fled from David, has now attained to man's estate; is in high favour with Pharaoh, and has become brother-in-law to the monarch of the Nile.
(2) Rezon also, taking advantage of the apathy of Solomon, who is too much engaged in the seraglio to pay close attention to the affairs of his distant provinces, is already in Damascus and on the throne of Syria.
3. With God behind them they are now formidable.
(1) The fly is a feeble creature, but let God send it forth as a plague, and Egypt is in agony. So Hadad, again amongst his Edomites, is by a competent Providence enabled to work "mischief" even to Solomon!
(2) Rezon also is in a position to gratify his abhorrence of Israel "all the days of Solomon," or to the end of those days.
(3) Let us see the hand of God in all the events of life. Let the discernment of symptoms of His displeasure lead us to repentance and reformation. Let us never despise the day of small things, for the great hand of God may be in it. It is difficult to distinguish the trifling from the momentous.
II. HE STIRRED UP THOSE ADVERSARIES BY MEANS.
1. They were reminded of the sufferings of their people.
(1) When David conquered Edom there was a fearful carnage. For six months Joab was engaged in cutting off all the males, until, no natives surviving, Israel had to bury the slain (1 Kings 11:15, 1 Kings 11:16). This slaughter was sufficiently dreadful, though it may only have extended to those old enough to bear arms. Hadad was not an infant then, but (נער קטן) a little boy—of sufficient age to see what was going on and make his escape with the servants. Rezon was of an age and in a position to estimate the miseries which the Syrians suffered when "David slew" them, which sufficiently accounts for the manner in which he "abhorred Israel." Wars are the cradles of resentments.
(2) These terrible massacres have their justification in the sins of the people who suffered them. In executing the wrath of God upon Edom, David fulfilled the famous prophecy of Balaam (see Numbers 24:17-19). But in this David was the type of Christ, the true Star of Jacob and Prince of Israel, whose anger will sweep His enemies to extermination.
2. They were persuaded that the opportunity was ripe for revenge.
(1) They heard that the warriors were dead (1 Kings 11:21). They were no longer paralyzed by the sound of the once terrible names of David and Joab.
(2) As for Solomon, he never was a warrior. And now he is stupefied by idolatry, and enervated in the harem.
(3) Consequently they put on a bold front, and from different points harassed and distracted Solomon, apparently with impunity. For the king of Israel knew that God was angry, and "conscience makes cowards of us all."
Who can afford to have God for his enemy? Solomon could not afford it. Can we? Who would not make peace with such an antagonist? He proposes His own terms. Why do we not repent and believe the gospel?—M.
1 Kings 11:26-28
The words before us are interesting as the earliest notice of a character who made a considerable figure in Hebrew history. They bring before us—
I. THE OBSCURITY OF HIS ORIGIN.
1. He was an Ephrathite of Zereda.
(1) The tribe of Ephraim was not obscure; on the contrary, it was next in importance to Judah. But that importance was collective—arose from the multitude of its people. An individual Ephrathite would rather be lost in the multitude.
(2) As to Zereda, so little was this place among the thousands of Ephraim that it is mentioned only here, and would have been forgotten but for Jeroboam. Note: Places derive notoriety from men. Men are greater than places.
2. He was the son of Nebat and Zeruah.
(1) Of these persons we should not have heard bat for the part their son played in history. How much of our reputation is adventitious! Unenviable is the notoriety gained through relationship with the devil. How truly glorious is that man who rejoices in the imputed righteousness of Christ!
(2) Yet Nebat and Zeruah founded the reputation of Jeroboam. They had the moulding of the child which became the father of the man. This is the true reason for the association of their names with his.
(3) In this view there is something judicial in this association of the names of parents and child. Their influence, though obscure, was sure, and now finds expression. What an expression will there be of obscure influences when the momentous resultants come out in the disclosures of the great judgment!
3. He was the son of a widow.
(1) Why is this noted, but to suggest that through the death of Nebat the responsibilities of the home at Zereda early devolved upon Jeroboam? Thus, those executive powers which brought him under the notice of Solomon had early scope. How little we know of the purposes of Providence in the bereavements and afflictions of famine.
(2) Private afflictions are suffered for public uses. In suffering, let us not murmur but listen to the voice of God, and pray that the dispensation may be sanctified.
II. HIS ADVANCEMENT TO POWER.
1. He became a mighty man of valour.
(1) This fact is recorded, but not the stages by which he became so known. Many a struggle occurred which had no other record than in this resultant. The value of circumstances is expressed in resultants. Let us attempt to weave all the circumstances of our lives into a character of goodness that will endure forever.
(2) Jeroboam had an energetic spirit and probably a robust physique. These he inherited. Neither for genius nor good constitutions are we indebted to ourselves. We owe much to our ancestors.
(3) But he cultivated his natural parts. Many are richly endowed by nature, but waste their endowments as an idle spendthrift wastes an inheritance. Our very faculties may become obliterated by disuse (Matthew 25:28).
2. His abilities were discerned by Solomon.
(1) This is noted to have occurred in connection with the building of Mille, and the closing of, or to close, the breaches in the city of David (1 Kings 11:27). Possibly Jeroboam distinguished himself against Jebusites, or some other malcontents, or in closing those breaches in the face of the enemy.
(2) Possibly the industry that attracted the notice of Solomon may have been simply in superintendence of improvements in the buildings at Millo and the fortifications. Providence finds opportunities for those who are ready to enter the opening door (Proverbs 22:29).
3. He was promoted to the charge over the house of Joseph.
(1) From an individual once lost in the multitude of this great house, he is now conspicuous before the multitude. His being an Ephrathite is now of importance to him. Let us never quarrel with circumstances, for we never know what may prove of service.
(2) Being found diligent in a minor charge he is promoted to a major responsibility. So does God deal with His people (Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29). What is worth doing is worth doing well.
4. Now he lifts his hang against his patron.
(1) Prosperity brings out the character. He is moved by ambition. Much would have more. He aspires to a throne. His success had encouraged this desire before he met Ahijah (see 1 Kings 11:37).
(2) He rebels against the author of his prosperity. Ambition smothers gratitude. How human! Is not this the case with all rebels against God?
(3) How plainly we can see baseness when manifested by man toward his fellow; but how slow we are to see this when ingratitude is toward God! The obscurity of our origin is no bar to our advancement in the religious service of God. "Not many noble are called."—M.
1 Kings 11:29-39
The Message of Ahijah.
As Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem with his commission from Solomon to rule as his lieutenant over the house of Joseph, meditating how he might use his fortune to construct a throne, he was met by Ahijah the Shilonite, who accosted him in a manner agreeable to his ambition. In the message of Ahijah we have—
I. A PROPHECY.
1. This was expressed in sign.
(1) The Shilonite provided himself with a new garment. This was intended to symbolize the kingdom. The same sign had been similarly used before (see 1 Samuel 15:27; 1 Samuel 24:5). Note: His people are the honourable clothing of a prince (see Proverbs 14:28).
(2) The garment was new. The kingdom of Israel was as yet young. Solomon was but the third monarch in succession. The garment was whole. So was the kingdom, as yet, unbroken. Note: The robe of Christ was seamless and woven throughout, which suggests the perfect unity which will appear in the subjects of His heavenly kingdom. Note further: That in His transfiguration, which symbolized His kingdom (see Matthew 16:28; Matthew 17:1), His raiment shined "as no fuller on earth could white it," suggesting the purity and glory in which the subjects of that kingdom are to shine (Matthew 13:43).
(3) But the robe in the hands of the prophet, the messenger and representative of God, is now rent into twelve pieces, according to the number of tribes composing the kingdom, ten of which were given into the hand of Jeroboam. Note: God disposes. In its militant state the kingdom of Christ is subject to revolutions, but not so in its triumphant and heavenly state.
2. The prophecy also is expressed in words (1 Kings 11:31-39).
(1) Thus the testimony is twofold. It appeals to the eye, also to the ear.
(2) History verified the predictions to the letter. What a testimony to the truth of God is the harmony and correspondence of prophecy and history!
II. ITS REASONS. These are expressed and implied.
1. The sin of Solomon is specified (1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:33).
(1) Solomon forsook the Lord. God never forsakes us unless we first forsake Him. Let us be admonished.
(2) He worshipped idols. Ashtoreth, the impure Venus of the Zidonians; Chemosh, the abomination of the Moabites; and Milcom, or Molech, the devil of the Ammonites,are put into competition with the God of Israel! Whoever is so foolish as to forsake God will surely become the dupe of devils.
(3) We notice the plural pronoun, "they have forsaken Me," etc. Not Solomon and his wives, for these heathen women had never known God but Solomon and the Israelites drawn away by his influence and example. Men seldom sin alone. Accomplices are involved with their leaders in a common retribution.
(4) He forgat the good example of his father David. This is mentioned to his discredit. We are accountable to God for our advantages. For godly parents, godly ministers, opportunities.
2. The piety of David is remembered.
(1) It is remembered in the mind of God. Let sincere Christians who are apt to be discouraged at their failures take comfort from the fact that God is more willing to remember our good endeavours than our failures. David in glory would know the blessedness of this.
(2) It is remembered to the advantage of his offspring on the earth. The temporal judgments upon Solomon's sins were mitigated in consequence of David's piety. Would not David, in glory, have satisfaction in this?
3. The Scriptures must be fulfilled.
(1) David was to have a light always before God in Jerusalem (Psalms 132:16, Psalms 132:17). The family of David mast be preserved until Messiah comes to be the Light of the Gentiles.
(2) As David was a type of Christ, so was Jerusalem, with its temple and shekinah, a type of His Church. Of this Church, Christ is the everlasting Light (see Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 60:19, Isaiah 60:20; Revelation 21:23).
4. No mention is made of any goodness in Jeroboam.
(1) This omission is significant. It suggests that the Ephrathite was used only as the instrument of Providence for the punishment of sinners; and for this service had the reward of his ambition. Therefore the success of our desires in this world is no certain proof either of our goodness or of God's favour.
(2) But in respect to his service God gave Jeroboam a glorious opportunity by goodness to make himself great like David (see 1 Kings 11:38). What opportunities does God graciously vouchsafe to us! Let us utilize them to the best possible account.—M.
1 Kings 11:40-43
There is peculiar interest attaching to the earlier and later days of men who have made a figure in history. Here we have the brief record of the end of a character famed for wisdom above all mere men, upon which we have sadly to meditate that—
I. HE SANK UNDER A DENSE CLOUD.
1. His morning was very bright.
(1) From his youth he was beloved of God. In token of this he received from God the name Jedidiah (2 Samuel 12:24, 2 Samuel 12:25). Could any distinction be more glorious? Let the young among us aspire to this distinction.
(2) When he came to the throne this name was changed to Solomon, the Peaceable. The wars of his father David were everywhere so triumphant, that no adversary now appeared (1 Kings 5:4). The love of God brings peace.
(3) He was zealous and faithful in building the temple of the Lord, which he devoted to God in a noble dedicatory prayer, and had an answer in the descent of the holy fire upon the sacrifices, and in the Shekinah taking possession of the house. Those who are beloved of God and rejoice in His peace are fit agents for the building of the spiritual temple of the Lord.
(4) He was blessed by God with extraordinary wisdom, not only in the arts of government, but also in various walks of learning (1 Kings 3:8-10; 1 Kings 4:33). The profoundest philosophers have been godly men. The boast of sceptics to the contrary is not sustained by fact.
(5) He was inspired by God to contribute books to the sacred Scriptures. The Chaldaisms which occur in the Ecclesiastes are not sufficient to wrest the authorship of that book from Solomon, to whom the Jews have ever ascribed it; for these it may have acquired in passing through the hands of Ezra.
2. But his evening was very black.
(1) His reign extended over forty years, and a considerable portion of that period he was under bad influences. Pharaoh's daughter is though[ to have been a proselyte to Judaism, but of this there is no proof.
(2) This foreign marriage was followed by about seven hundred more. These were distinguished as princesses (verse 3). Not that they were daughters of kings, but wives of Solomon, of the second order, Pharaoh's daughter being queen. Beside these were the three hundred concubines. Such a harem, in its number alone, was a plain violation of the law (Deuteronomy 17:17). But he was still further guilty in making alliances with heathen women (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3, Deuteronomy 7:4).
(3) The very evils predicted happened to Solomon; through these he was drawn into the grossest idolatry (verses 5-8).
(4) The last act recorded of him was that of seeking to kill Jeroboam, who to avoid his resentment took refuge with Shishak, king of Egypt. Shishak was brother-in-law to Hadad, the Edomite adversary of Solomon, but not the father of Solomon's wife, as some have supposed. If, as the narrative suggests, this design upon the life of Jeroboam was in consequence of his knowledge of the prophecy of Ahijah, it was an evidence of extreme wickedness, for it was fighting against God. It was the very sin of Saul against his father David. And in this purpose he seems to have persisted to his death; for Jeroboam remained in Egypt until that event. How fearful are the evils of apostasy! How admonitory!
II. BUT IS THERE NO SUNSHINE IN THE CLOUD? Some think they see it—
1. In the promise of God to David.
(1) The promise referred to is recorded 2 Samuel 7:12-17. But was not Solomon, who was chastened with the rod of men by Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam, the subject of the mercy of God, in that his family was continued in the throne of Judah? In this he was distinguished from Saul, whose succession was cut off.
(2) Unless this answer can be shown to be insufficient, the Calvinistic argument based upon this text for the infallible final perseverance of the saints is simply a begging of the question.
2. In the Divine approval of the reign of Solomon.
(1) The passage relied upon in this statement is 2 Chronicles 11:17. But when the commencement of the rule of Rehoboam in Judah, for three years, is commended as according to the example of David and Solomon, the allusion, as far as Solomon is concerned at least, was to the manner in which he commenced his reign.
(2) This is sufficient for the consistency of the text. To make it prove more would make it prove too much by committing God to the approval of what He has elsewhere explicitly condemned.
(3) Rehoboam, who as king of Judah, like his father Solomon, began his reign well, fell into the snare of Solomon in multiplying wives (see 2 Chronicles 11:21).
3. In his authorship of the Ecclesiastes.
(1) The argument is that upon the message of God, by Ahijah, as is supposed (verses 9-13), Solomon repented, and afterwards wrote this book, in which he confesses the vanity of his past life.
(2) But the theory of his repentance upon that occasion ill consorts with the history of his seeking the life of Jeroboam, because he was destined to give effect to the burden of that message. True repentance will bear meet fruit (Matthew 3:8).
(3) The Ecclesiastes was more probably written before than after the apostasy of Solomon. The allusions to his experiences as "king over Israel in Jerusalem" may have been prophetic anticipations, which may explain the past tense, "was king," which is agreeable to the prophetic style. When all has been said that can be alleged to encourage hope in Solomon's end, the doubt is grave enough to instruct us that we must not presume upon God's mercy, and sin. Let us rather hope in His mercy, repent, and sin no more. Praise God for the Great Atonement!—M.
HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART
1 Kings 11:14-25
The Divine Chastisements.
I. CHASTISEMENT IS MERCY. Though the judgment was kept back, Solomon was meanwhile made to feel the rod of correction. We may be forgiven and yet chastised—yea, chastised because we are forgiven. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth," etc. This, too, was mercy, for—
1. It was fitted to lead him to seek God in truth. It is easier to feel and confess our folly and sin in adversity than when all is well with us,
2. It revealed to him the kind of harvest he had prepared for his child. He was now reaping the fruits of his father's fierce vengeance (see 1 Kings 11:15). The story recorded on the page of Scripture was then on Israel's lips and in Solomon's thoughts. When God visits for sin, the iniquity of the past is remembered. Sins are seeds that produce harvests of trouble for those who come after us; and Solomon's reaping the fruit of his father's deeds must have set before him the legacy of judgment he was bequeathing to his own son. And yet Solomon does not seem to have been benefited. Are we reading the lessons of our chastisements?
II. OUR ENEMIES ARE GOD'S INSTRUMENTS.
1. When they assail us it is of Him. The Lord stirred them up. They had been adversaries before, but they had hitherto been powerless to harm Israel (see 1 Kings 11:4). But now in Solomon's fall the day of their opportunity came. Our foes are held as in a leash by God. Without His permission they can attempt nothing: when they are loosed it is of Him. They serve Him and in the truest sense serve us. In the midst of evil deeds and evil speech let us look past all to Him.
2. God's restraining hand is still upon them. Though Hadad and Rezon attempted more, they were not permitted to succeed. So far as they may serve us they are allowed to go, but no further.—U.
1 Kings 11:26-43
The call to Jeroboam.
I. THE UNWEARIED EFFORTS OF GOD TO WIN MEN FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is the beginning of the story of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
1. He is met by mercy. The widow's son is made king of Israel.
2. By counsel and promise (1 Kings 11:38). The seed is east upon the stony ground and among the thorns, as well as upon the good soil. Learn—
1. That, like the great husbandman, we should sow the seed of the kingdom everywhere; though men may not hear, God is served and glorified in that offered mercy.
2. It is no proof that all is well with us, that we have been the recipients of God's goodness, or that His Word has touched and searched our heart: is there any fruit?
II. THE SPIRIT REQUIRED IN ORDER TO REAP LASTING BENEFIT FROM OTHERS' DISASTERS.
1. Sympathy with them in their suffering. The judgment which is to fall upon Solomon and Israel is laid upon Jeroboam's heart. He went out clothed with a new garment, he returned with a handful of fragments, the symbol of the new kingdom and the effect of God's judgment. We cannot rightly enter into blessing springing from another's loss if we pass in with a light heart.
2. Recognition of them as still objects of Divine mercy (1 Kings 11:34, 1 Kings 11:36). The house of David was not to be utterly cast out. The love that smiles on us is still round them.
3. Recognition that the gift we receive is from the hand of the same Master. Blessing and judgment hang for him upon the same issues (1 Kings 11:33, 1 Kings 11:38). Only in lowliness and brotherliness can we rightly receive the gifts God sends us.
III. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF THWARTING THE DIVINE PURPOSE (1 Kings 11:40).
1. Solomon's attempt to remove the danger by slaying Jeroboam is defeated. His life is guarded till his work is done.
2. It only serves the Divine purpose. Jeroboam's enmity is secured. He is sent down to Egypt and strengthened by alliance with a power unfriendly to Israel. Fighting against God, we only bind our cords the more firmly, we kick against the pricks. To humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God will bring us into the light of mercy: to contend with Him is destruction.—U.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 11:28
The Successful Man.
Among the "adversaries" of Solomon, Jeroboam was the most active. He raised sedition, or, in the words of Scripture, "lifted up his hand," against the king. He was of humble birth, but belonged to the most powerful tribe - Ephraim. His rise is described here. The fortifications of Millo underneath the citadel of Zion were being erected. Amongst those employed Jeroboam was noticed by the king as strong, skilful, and industrious. Ever on the outlook for talent, and with wisdom to discern it, Solomon made him superintendent of the tribute required in money and service of the tribe of Ephraim; a place of trust and profit. Jeroboam is a good example of WORLDLY SUCCESS, the subject for our consideration.
I. THE ELEMENTS OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. Natural ability. This belonged to the son of Nebat in large measure, as his subsequent history shows. Shrewdness, courage, self-reliance were his. These, and similar gifts, are unevenly distributed amongst men. Children at school are by no means equal in powers of attainment. In business, one man will make a fortune where another would not suspect a chance. Amongst the advantages of such inequality are these: that the higher and lower grades of work required by the world are alike done; and that room is given for the exercise of generosity, self-conquest, etc; in our social relations.
2. Personal diligence. With all Jeroboam's faults he was not idle. He did thoroughly and well what came to hand. This is the secret of success, both in student and business life. It rectifies the balance sometimes between men of unequal ability. The tortoise wins the race against the hare. The student conquers the genius. Where it is added to ability, success in life is certain. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings: he shall not stand before mean men" (Proverbs 22:29). "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule" (Proverbs 12:24). Examples: Abraham's servant; Joseph in Egypt, etc. Show how this is true in the higher sphere of the Christian life. "To him that hath to him shall be given," etc. He that is faithful with few things will become ruler over many.
3. Kindly interest. "Solomon saw the young man." This added an element of uncertainty to his prospects. It seemed a chance, but was under the rule of God, as the history shows. Diligence and fidelity should be ours, whether or no we have the notice of the earthly master, for the unseen King is ever watching us. We are to work with singleness of heart, as unto the Lord; to serve others "not with eye service as men pleasers," etc. Show the responsibility which rests on employers to develop, and encourage, and put to the best use the gifts of their employes. Promotion should follow merit.
II. THE POSSIBILITIES OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. It is possible to defend others. Jeroboam was known in future times of danger as the man who "enclosed the city of David." Higher possibilities than that belong to successful men. How they can guard those employed by them from disease, from moral contamination, from ignorance, etc. The responsibilities of landowners, manufacturers, etc.
2. It is possible to lighten the burdens of others. As ruler over the tribute, Jeroboam could alleviate or aggravate the burdens of the tribe. Point out what could be done by far-seeing, right-hearted statesmen to lessen the troubles of the poor, the miseries of subject races, the burdens of taxation, etc.
3. It is possible to become ready for loftier rule. He who was the overseer of one tribe became the king of Israel. The discharge of the duties of the former office made those of the latter less arduous. Apply this to the preparation of men for the nobler rule of heaven, by the exercise of powers for God in the earthly sphere.
III. THE PERILS OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. Ingratitude. Jeroboam fostered ill feeling against Solomon in Ephraim till he was expelled the kingdom. Men often kick away the ladder by which they rose to fortune. Give examples. The wish to forget the past in which they wanted help, and to attribute to their own skill what came from the kindness of others, tempts to this. Even poor parents have been left uncared for by prosperous children.
2. Impatience. Jeroboam was to have the kingdom, as Ahijah told him, but he could not wait for Solomon's death. His first exaltation and the words of the prophet aroused greed and ambition which would not be stayed. A man who has known nothing but success is more impatient than are others at a disappointment or difficulty. It is harder for him than for one trained in the school of adversity to say, "Not my will, but Thine be done." His is seldom the "meek and quiet spirit" which is, in the sight of God, of great price.
3. Rebellion against God. He heard from Ahijah's lips these words of God about Solomon—"I will make him prince all the days of his life;" yet during his life Jeroboam tried to dethrone him. Compare this conduct with that of David towards Saul. The contrast is the more remarkable because of the provocation David received, and because the son of Jesse, unlike the son of Nebat, had been actually anointed king. He had no right to seize what God had promised to give. Jacob learnt this lesson in the house of Laban. In this disregard, or defiance, of God was the germ of Jeroboam's ruin. His rule was (like Solomon's) conditional on obedience to the Divine will (compare 1 Kings 11:38 with 1 Kings 9:4-6). Stability depends on God; the seen on the unseen. No cleverness, no diligence, no human help can bring lasting prosperity to a soul, or to a nation, which forsakes righteousness and forgets God.—A.R.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
1 Kings 11:29-36; 1Ki 14:21 -81; 1 Kings 16:1, 1 Kings 16:2, 1 Kings 16:25, 1 Kings 16:26
The judgments of God on Judah and Israel from the death of Solomon to the time of Ahab.
The separation of the people of God into two kingdoms was a punishment for the idolatry of Solomon; but from this punishment God brought forth good, for it was well that the pride of the Jews should not be fostered by unmixed prosperity. It would have formed a far stronger barrier to the gospel in after times if it had not been thus early broken.
After the separation of the two kingdoms, idolatry more or less gross prevailed in both, with brief intervals of return to the worship of the true God. This fearful moral declension is traceable to a great extent to the fall of Solomon. Sin is thus always the parent of after evil. He who rebels against God leaves behind him the influence of his example, and gives fresh force to the current of evil. God made both kingdoms feel, during this period, repeated strokes of His chastising hand. Their history is a history of tears and blood. Every fresh sin, the bitter outgrowth of former transgressions, becomes a source of new calamities. The hard Asiatic tyranny of Rehoboam leads to the rending of the kingdom. The erection of a half-pagan sanctuary entails upon Jeroboam and his race the catastrophes which issue in their ruin.
The history of the Jews during this period, therefore, presents the aspect of one long judgment of God, in which sin brings forth death and thus becomes its own punishment (James 1:15). This is true also in the history of individuals; and we have in this fact one of the strongest evidences that we are under the government of a holy God. Let us never forget that His holiness is at the same time love, and that through all the dark and sorrowful vicissitudes of our life He is carrying out His plan of mercy. In spite of all its falls, its wanderings, and its woes, Israel did fulfil its preparatory mission. If in the end the theocracy tottered to its fall, this failure also entered into the conditions of the Divine plan. Israel was never treated by God, however, as a mere passive instrument. God gave it repeated warnings, as, for example, by the mouth of the unknown prophet who was sent to Jeroboam to declare to him the judgments of God (1 Kings 13:1-34.)—E. de P.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany