The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
May 29, 2016 :: 1 Kings 11:1-43
Our sermon series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings” and the main king of the nation of Israel for all of the messages so far has been King Solomon.
King Solomon has succeeded his father David, prayed for wisdom to rule, built and dedicated a magnificent temple, and reigned over a golden kingdom. A kingdom like Israel had never had before.
A breathtaking kingdom! Last week, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon’s kingdom and was overwhelmed by what she saw. It literally took her breath away.
And I said that this was in many ways the high point of the Old Testament story. At long last, the promises that God had made to Abraham have appeared to be coming together in perfect fulfillment–land, offspring, blessing, king and kingdom!
But the question was: Will it last...or will it all fall apart?
I’m sorry to say that 1 Kings 11 has a very disappointing answer to that question.
1 Kings 11 tells a tragic tale.
A tale of a “golden kingdom” that did not stay golden.
A tale of an “ideal king” who did not stay ideal.
Our title for today’s message: “The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom.”
Today, we analyze the failure and fall of Solomon. Where did he go wrong?
Remember how breathtaking chapter 10 was. How glorious the kingdom of Solomon was.
Don’t forget that as we read verse 1 because it really highlights how tragic that word “however” is. V.1
“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter– Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.”
That is so tragic!
Here’s what went wrong. Solomon allowed himself to love many women.
He was not a one-woman man like the Bible says that godly men ought to be.
In fact, he turned out to be a 1,000-woman man.
And while some randy males might think that that must have spelled sexual success, the Bible says, God says, that Solomon was a total failure in this area.
God had clearly said in Deuteronomy that the king of Israel was NOT to multiply wives.
In fact, every time there are multiple wives in the Bible, there is trouble. Every time.
This is saying that Solomon invited 1,000 times the trouble.
And the problem is not just that he married too often. It is that he married foreign women. Pagan women. Women who worshiped false gods!
The LORD had warned them about this. Look at verse 2 again.
“They were from nations [Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon] about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’[You see that word “turn?” That’s important.] Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.”
These women would seduce Solomon. Not just for pleasure and power (with the political alliances that they would bring as their dowries) but seduce him to worship the wrong gods.
And that’s exactly what happened verse 4.
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. [Here’s how bad it got.] He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.”
On hill east of Jerusalem from where you could probably see the golden temple? Solomon built idols for these false gods?
The author is so clear about what kind of gods these are, isn’t he?
They are not just false gods, they are “detestable” gods.
They are abominations. They are damnable.
And Solomon worshiped them?
“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice[!]. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command.”
That is the easily most tragic thing we have read so far in the book of 1 Kings.
This king who had reached so high has fallen so low.
And he has attracted the anger of God.
It’s no wonder that God is so angry in verse 9 because this is the God who said in the very first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Our Sunday School classes just looked at that this morning.
Idolatry is the most disastrous sin because it brings the most dis-glory to the Lord God.
Sometimes we get shocked that God gets angry.
We don’t like to think about our God being angry except when we are good and mad and want Him to be just like us.
But God does get angry at injustice and sin. And there is nothing more unjust than to take the glory of the deserving eternal God and give it to an undeserving idol.
And yet, that’s exactly what Solomon did.
He had just one job, and he failed at it.
Epic king failure. That was Solomon.
For so many years, he looked like a two-thumbs up king. And he was for those years! I think that 1 Kings is clear on that.
But at this point in his life, near the end, when he got old, Solomon is two thumbs down.
The king has turned.
His heart has turned.
I have two points of application this morning. You could probably come up with more, but I just have two to press home today.
Here’s number one. It comes from the turned king.
#1. GUARD YOUR HEART.
I think there is a warning here.
To be careful what you allow yourself to love.
Did you catch all of the love words in those first 10 verses?
Did you see all of the “heart” words?
“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women...Solomon held fast to them in love....his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God...”
Guard your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
It all comes down to the heart. If you heart is where it should be, then good things will come out of it.
If you are heart is in the wrong place, then disaster can strike.
Your heart is the loving piece of your life. The thing your heart does is love.
It worships. It forms relationships. It wants things. It desires.
Your heart is active.
Be careful about what is going on in your heart.
Be careful what you allow yourself to love.
Be careful because this can be a very gradual thing.
Solomon didn’t wake up one morning after the temple dedication and say, “I think I’m going to marry another 999 girls today.”
It took time to get there.
And the compromises probably seemed pretty small at the time.
“I mean, yeah, my dad, David who was a ‘man after God’s own heart’” had several wives. So I could probably have a couple more.
And I won’t worship their gods.
But they do believe differently than I do, so now that we’re married, I probably ought to build them a little altar for their god.
It’s nothing like the altar of my God!
I’m not going to burn incense there. They will, but I won’t.
Of course, we are one flesh now, and she asked so nicely, and what would it really hurt?”
Is this logical?
We can see it has a kind of logic to it because we have all made those kind of excuses for ourselves. We have all given in to little compromises that get easier with each one.
But idolatry is inherently illogical, irrational, and stupid!
The wisest man who ever lived allowed himself to become foolish.
Guard your heart.
Be careful what and whom you allow yourself to love.
Where is the danger in your life?
What are the potential idols that vie for your allegiance and threaten to turn you away?
It might be sex. Men, you may not want to marry 1000 girls, but your roving eye or your internet viewing history might point to the same problem that Solomon had.
A real man, a godly man, finds one woman, preferably a godly woman, and pours all of his energies into holding fast to her. Anything else is idolatry.
Or it could be money. You can tell if you love money by what it makes you do. Does it make you steal? Does it make you anxious? Does it make you mean?
Anything could become an idol. Anything that you love that you shouldn’t or that you love more than you should.
Guard your heart.
Status. Popularity. Security. Comfort.
Where is the danger in your life? They don’t have to all be named Ashtoreth,, Chemosh, and Molech.
They could be named Harley or Apple or come with abbreviations like GE, EFCA, PSU, DNC, GOP or even US of A.
What are the potential idols that vie for your allegiance and threaten to turn you away?
Yes, you and I have more resources at our disposal than Solomon did. In the New Covenant, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us!
So we can say, “No” to idolatry much easier than Solomon could have.
But the apostle John said to a new covenant church (1 John 5:21), “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Guard your heart.
Solomon didn’t set out to anger God.
In chapter 8, it was his biggest fear!
But he still found himself there led astray by loving the wrong things.
You know our culture says that we should “follow our hearts.”
We should “listen our hearts” and we can’t help it if we fall in love.
Or whom we fall in love with.
But God says to guard your heart and makes it clear that Solomon is disastrously in the wrong when he falls in love with the wrong women.
What are the little compromises that you have made that need repented of?
To repent means to turn back.
That’s what Solomon needed to do.
And we don’t get a report here that he did.
He might have. I tend to think that Ecclesiastes gives us a glimpse of an aged Solomon who had wisely learned his lesson from this.
But here he had allowed himself to reach a place where the judgment of God would fall on both him and his people because of how he had allowed his heart to be turned away.
To repent means to turn back. And God’s children can do it.
It’s actually why David was a man after God’s own heart. Not because he never sinned, but because he really hated his sin and owned his sin and turned away from it. And turned back.
Where do you need to turn back? Maybe before the consequences of your little compromises begin to take their toll?
Be careful what you love.
In verse 11, the Lord announces his judgment on Solomon. The kingdom is going to be torn away. V.11
“So the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.’”
So that’s the consequence of Solomon’s failure as a king.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
That’s what he said back in Deuteronomy would happen.
That’s what David told Solomon in chapter 2.
That’s what Solomon prayed in chapter 8.
That’s what God warned would happen in chapter 9.
This just says that God is doing it.
What’s really interesting is the amount of grace that is mingled in with the judgment.
It won’t happen during Solomon’s lifetime.
And he’s going to leave David’s family one tribe.
It actually turns out to be two tribes, one is pretty small and the other pretty huge. So big that the little one, Benjamin, kind of gets swallowed up in the one that the Southern kingdom becomes named after, Judah.
And it’s not because of Solomon. It’s (v.12) “for the sake of David.” We’ll come back to that in a little bit.
But as much grace as there is here, it is mostly bad news for Solomon and his family.
The kingdom will be torn away.
The Lord begins that process of judgment by sending three adversaries. Two external and one internal. V.14
“Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary [literally “a satan”], Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.
[Here’s where he came from.] Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom.
But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food.
Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. he sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children.”
Do you get the picture?
Who does this guy sound like? He sounds like Moses to me. He’s like an anti-Moses.
This guy grows up in what household?
The household of Solomon’s father-in-law?
How is that alliance working out for you, Solomon? V.21
“While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. Then Hadad said to Pharaoh, ‘Let me go, that I may return to my own country.’
‘What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?’ Pharaoh asked. ‘Nothing,’ Hadad replied, ‘but do let me go!’
[So that Hadad could raise trouble for Solomon. Who did that? The Lord did. V.23]
And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah. He gathered men around him and became the leader of a band of rebels when David destroyed the forces of Zobah; the rebels went to Damascus, where they settled and took control.
Rezon was Israel's adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel.”
Do you remember when Solomon had peace on every side?
No enemies? Everybody around him a friend or a conquered foe?
Hadad a perpetual thorn in the South.
Rezon a perpetual thorn in the North.
And then Jeroboam. The first mention of this guy but certainly not the last. Verse 26.
“Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon's officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.
Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph [in the north].
[And God decided to use this man to tear the kingdom. V.29]
About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. [We’ve never heard of this guy before, but he’s got a message from Yahweh.]
The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces.
[Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip!]
“Then he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe.
I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did.
‘'But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.
However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.'’
The Lord has just told us what’s going to happen over the next several chapters of these two books of Kings.
He’s going to take most of the kingdom away from Solomon’s son after he dies and give ten tribes worth to this guy Jeroboam.
And it’ll be the same basic deal with him.
Jeroboam and his sons will have just one job. And if they do it, they will be blessed.
But if they fail royally like Solomon did, they will, too, will have the kingdom torn from them.
Now, we don’t know what Jeroboam was thinking at this point, but he obviously leads some kind of rebellion that Solomon stop by trying to take Jeroboam out. V.40
“Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon's death.”
Again, Egypt proves to not be Solomon’s true ally. They are not trustworthy even though Pharaoh’s own daughter is Solomon’s wife.
Jeroboam lives to fight another day, and we will see soon what fateful choices he will make for Israel.
But now we come to the end of Solomon’s life. V.41
“As for the other events of Solomon's reign–all he did and the wisdom he displayed–are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.”
What application can we derive from the announcement of the torn kingdom and the end of Solomon’s reign?
#2. WAIT FOR THE TRUE KING.
We’re going to get this lesson again and again in the books of Kings.
When the kings are at their best, they remind us of King Jesus.
But when they are at their worst, they remind us that we still need King Jesus.
Solomon was not the Messiah.
Solomon was not the ideal king.
He looked like it. He was about as close as it comes.
David or Solomon, take your pick. Those guys were model kings.
And Solomon’s kingdom was breathtakingly glorious.
And such wisdom!
Wisdom like never before!
But Solomon ultimately disappoints us.
And that ache that you feel when you read that “however” in verse 1 is the right thing to feel.
It makes you long for the true King who will bring the true Kingdom.
And make no mistake–that kingdom is still on the way.
God has made promises of an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken. That cannot be torn away from great David’s greatest Son.
That’s why verse 12 and verse 34 bring up “for the sake of David.”
God’s not finished with the tribe of Judah or with David’s family.
They may reach incredible lows.
But not forever. V.39 again.
“I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.”
But not forever!
There is a King coming who will be all that Solomon promised to be and will only love what He should love.
This King’s heart will not turn.
This King’s heart will be fully devoted to the LORD His God.
And you know His name.
It’s the name that is above every name.
He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
He is King Jesus.
Long for Him.
King Jesus has come and He began His kingdom. We were just talking about this on Wednesday night at Prayer Meeting.
But His Kingdom has not yet come in its fullness.
We still long for that.
We still wait for that.
But we know that it’s coming.
And pray for it:
Your kingdom come!
Come, Lord Jesus. Come! We are waiting for you!
Messages in this Series:
01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King