A Heart and Kingdom Divided
Read 1 Kings 11:4, 11 (ESV)
For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father… Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.”
How does Solomon’s example serve as a warning to you about the influence those close to you have on your spiritual life? What modern day idols divide your devotion to God?
In the “Walk Thru the Old Testament” seminars, they sum up the history of the first 3 kings of Israel this way: “Saul - No Heart for God, David - Whole Heart for God, Solomon - Half Heart for God.” The past couple of days, we have seen that summation to be true of Saul and David. Unfortunately, as we turn the page to the book of 1 Kings, we find the saying to be true about King Solomon as well.
At the beginning of 1 Kings, we find King David on his deathbed. Before David’s death, he said to his son and successor, Solomon: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statues, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel’” (1 Kings 2:2-4).
So Solomon became king after David’s death, and he started off strong. In chapter 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he wanted from God. Solomon’s answer pleased the Lord because Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment so that he would govern God’s people well and do what was right in God’s eyes. God granted his request. 1 Kings 4:31 says that Solomon was wiser than all other men. In addition, he was just as rich as he was wise (1 Kings 10:23) and had the “rest on every side” that God had promised in 2 Samuel 7:11.
God had also promised King David that his son would build a house for God. We see this prophecy fulfilled in chapter 6 when Solomon built the temple of the Lord. In chapter 8, when the ark of the covenant was placed inside the Most Holy Place, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. All seemed to be going well as Solomon’s reign was richly blessed and peaceful.
But things took a turn in chapter 11. The wisest king in the world made very foolish decisions when it came to women. First, he acquired wives like he acquired wealth. 1 Kings 11:3 says that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Yes, that’s 1,000 women. This was a direct violation of God’s law given to future kings in Deuteronomy 17:17: “And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away…”. But he had also violated Deuteronomy 7:3-4 by marrying foreign women that God knew would turn men’s hearts to serve their pagan gods. That is exactly what happened with Solomon. His many wives divided his heart from wholehearted worship of God. His divided heart led to his downfall and to the division of his kingdom.
In 1 Kings 12, we read that after Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam became king. But Jeroboam, an officer in Solomon’s army, led a rebellion. In 931 B.C., the united nation split. The 10 northern tribes followed Jeroboam and made him their king. This left Rehoboam with just a fraction of his father’s kingdom—the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south. For a period of 90 years, various kings reigned in Samaria, the capital of Israel (north), and in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah (south). All of the kings were wicked during that time except for two; Asa and Jehoshaphat. God also sent the prophets Elijah and Micaiah to rebuke and warn the kings to follow the Lord God rather than false gods like Baal.
Despite the division of the kingdom, we see the Scarlet Thread of redemption as King Solomon is a type of Christ. His wisdom shows us just a glimpse of the wisdom of Christ and the splendor of his kingdom foreshadows the splendor of the coming kingdom of Christ. And the greatest thread of all is found in the fact that despite the failures of David, Solomon, and the many kings after them, “something greater than Solomon”—Jesus Christ—still came from David’s line, according to God’s promise (Matthew 12:42).
Friends, we may not have ancient pagan gods vying for our worship these days but there are plenty of things in our lives that can divide our hearts and lead us astray from worshiping the Lord God wholeheartedly as He commands that we do. I encourage you to spend some time in prayer today asking God to reveal the things that divide your heart.
Lord, I know that You are the One True God and the only One worthy of my wholehearted devotion and worship. Show me the idols that I have set up in my heart against You and help me turn from them. Give me an undivided heart for You, God. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford