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February 7, 2010
Thoughts on Solomon's Divided Heart
"WHEREFORE JEHOVAH SAID unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it o they servant" (1Kings 11:11).
Solomon--although greatly blessed by God with wisdom, riches, and power--turns from God. "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as was the heart of David his father" (1Kings 11:4). What precipitated this display of his imperfect heart is very clear--his wives turn him away.
Kings seem to like to have the best and most of everything. Solomon, though wise, is no exception. God blessed Solomon and his kingdom, but Solomon continues to look in directions other than to God's instruction. He loves many women; some of his relationships stem from and result in political and social alliances with nations and peoples strictly opposed by God. "Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which Jehovah said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love" (1Kings 11:1-2). As wise as Solomon is, he is not wise enough to heed God's reasonings and warnings concerning these foreign women.
We like to think of Solomon as a good, righteous, and wise king. After all, he is the wisest man to live, he is given special blessings by God, and he is the son of David. Before God's gift of wisdom, Solomon really had started on the wrong foot. "And Solomon loved Jehovah, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt-offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar" (1Kings 3:3-4). Solomon did ask for wisdom--and God indeed blessed him in this way. Solomon had good intentions, but there is a great difference in having wisdom and using it. Later in life we see where his poor judgment leads.
Since his heart was imperfect, he is described by a word we wouldn't normally associate with Solomon--evil. "And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and went not fully after Jehovah, as did David his father" (1Kings 11:6). It is not just a matter of allowing his wives to pursue their false religions, but Solomon himself "goes after" these abominations.
God is faithful. He does not take the kingdom away from Solomon "for David my servant's sake," yet God does instigate a deterioration of Solomon's realm. "And Jehovah raised up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite" and also, "God raised up another adversary unto him, Rezon the son of Eliada." These leaders begin to erode the bourn of Solomon's empire. They remain a prick in Israel's side all of Solomon's days.
Solomon is not the only one to whom God gives a message about the kingdom of Israel. A young man by the name of Jeroboam enters the drama. Now, the prophet, Ahijah, brings the message of God to Jeroboam. "And it came to pass at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; now Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field" (1Kings 11:29). Ahijah uses his new garment to emphasize God's plan to Jeroboam. Upon rending the garment into twelve fragments, he makes the pronouncement: "Take thee ten pieces; for thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee" (1Kings 11:31). God offers to build Jeroboam a "sure house" as He has done for David--obedience and loyalty are the requirements--the choice is Jeroboam's.
"Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon" (1Kings 11:40). "And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead" (1Kings 11:43). The curtain in falling on the unity of a nation. The stage has been set for the new scene--one of separateness, hostility, and division.
Lessons to be Learned from Solomon's Divided Heart
God blesses those who choose to follow him. Though Solomon started out on the wrong foot by burning incense and offerings in the high places, he understood that God could provide the wisdom he needed to rule the people. He then submitted himself to Jehovah and began worshipping in the proper way. He even built the temple for Jehovah in Jerusalem. When we submit ourselves to God's will and follow His instructions for salvation, He will bless us with a life in Him and the promise of eternal life with Him.
There is no such thing as a half-way Christian. Even though Solomon knew God and had David his father as an example, he did not fully follow after Jehovah. This failure was characterized as "evil." His heart was divided between what he knew to be God's will and the traditions of his wives. We cannot be divided in our hearts and be pleasing to God.
One can choose to leave God and His blessings. Solomon chose to follow after the traditions of wives rather than to remain faithful to God. Though Solomon was blessed with wisdom, he didn't use it. Because of his choice and his actions, God let him know that his kingdom would be divided. Christians can choose to leave God and His blessings. Just like in the case of Solomon, our choices and actions have an effect on our future.