23 Solomon’s Fall

God blessed Solomon tremendously with wisdom, with riches, and with peace with the surrounding nations. He was exalted above anyone else before him and even those that came after him because he made God His close counsellor. Moreover, Solomon went and built the temple as a permanent dwelling place for God which God recognized and affirmed by gracing it with His presence.

1 Kings 4:21, 24-25
21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life. 24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. 25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

  • God’s blessing was truly with Solomon and was obvious for everyone to see. He gave him dominion and there was peace on every side.

However, long before there was king Solomon, or king David or even king Saul, God warns the people that if they do set up kings in Israel after they inherit the land that they need to be careful.

  • Deuteronomy 17:14-15
    14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; 15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
  • God was careful to lay requirements out in case they ever did decide to ask for a king. The king would not be a foreigner but from the tribe of Israel.
  • But there were other things that God would warn them about as well when a king would rule over them.
  • Deuteronomy 17:16
    But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

    • There were not to multiply horses to themselves in case it became a temptation for them to return to Egypt.
    • It was not so much a literal return to Egypt, but a forsaking of God in their hearts and minds, as a strengthening of the military power would cause people to focus on their own might rather than the strength and power of God.
  • What else were they warned about?
  • Deuteronomy 17:17
    Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

    • They were not to multiply wives to themselves or to greatly multiply silver and gold.

So there were three things that the kings were warned that they were not to multiply to themselves.

  • Horses.
  • Wives.
  • Silver and gold.

What was the advice that was to be given to the king?

  • Deuteronomy 17:18-20
    18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
  • Though he was king, he was to be reminded all the days of his life to be faithful to God. To be careful to fear God and to keep all the words of God’s law and statutes and to do them. His life needed to be marked with strict integrity, that he would not turn to the left or to the right.
  • This was the warnings that was given to the Israelites and to be a reminder for anyone who would step into the authority and position of king.

Solomon came in with great promise. His rulership was off to a great start. He asked for wisdom from the outset so that God would grant him the wisdom needed to know how to run the kingdom.

  • God heard his prayer and granted him wisdom and made him the wisest man that ever lived! But he also gave Solomon everything that he did not ask for. He gave him riches and honour.
  • However, there was a condition.
  • 1 Kings 3:13-14
    13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
  • God would bless him as long as he was faithful to walk in God’s way and to keep His statutes and commandments.
  • The prosperity of the nation and of Solomon was dependent on their strict integrity to God’s word. God did not just blindly bless forever, but His blessings always came with conditions.

However, what did Solomon do?

  • 1 Kings 3:1
    And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
  • It’s so interesting that the first wife that Solomon takes to himself is a wife from Egypt, the very place that God does not want His people to retreat to. He makes a contract with Pharaoh and becomes son-in-law to him.
  • Why would he do such a thing?
  • In the olden times, it was normal for people to make marriages to people of other countries to form an alliance. Maybe this was what Solomon was thinking. This was probably a way that he could expand his kingdom.
  • It doesn’t say anywhere that she was still worshipping her own Egyptian religion. And it was likely that she embraced the Jewish religion. After all, it was not too difficult for Solomon to handle one wife.
  • Moreover, we read further on in the same chapter:
    • 1 Kings 3:3
      And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
  • Solomon loved God. He only sacrificed and burnt incense to God. And so his wife must have seen his love and devotion and be converted to the Jewish religion and to the worship of the true God.
  • However, this was already a step in the wrong direction. He had married outside of the faith. And though he had been lucky that he had more influence over his wife than she did over him, he was already playing with fire.
  • But remember, in this instance God did not warn to be unequally yoked, but to not multiply wives.

But what else did Solomon do?

  • 2 Chronicles 1:15
    And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the vale for abundance.
  • He multiplied to himself silver and gold. But not only that, notice that the Bible says that he made the cedar tree to be in as much abundance as the sycamore tree. What is the significance of this?
  • Cedar is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as an item of luxury and wealth.
  • 2 Samuel 5:11
    And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.

    • King David used cedar for his house. Obviously, he would have used the best of material.
  • But now Solomon has made even the cedar to be in abundance as much as the sycamore tree which must have been a very common tree there at that time.

When Solomon had asked for wisdom at the beginning of his reign, God replied to state that his prayer was heard and that God would give him even more. He would give him riches and honour as well.

  • But Solomon had gotten to the point where the riches were in such abundance that it became an excess. He was beyond rich.
  • 1 Kings 10:17
    And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

    • Shields of gold! Shields are used to fight. You don’t put the most precious metal into a shield.
  • 1 Kings 10:18
    Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.

    • Ivory is taken from the tusks of elephants, walruses and narwhal’s. They are usually used to make ornaments. But Solomon here makes his whole throne of it. And as if that isn’t enough, he overlays it with gold as well. Extravagance!
  • 1 Kings 10:21
    And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

    • All his cups, plates, cutlery – they were all made of gold.
  • 1 Kings 10:23
    So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.
  • He far exceeded any king on the earth for the riches that he had.
  • It’s one thing to be rich, it is quite another to multiply riches to yourself.
  • It’s fair to say that Solomon was already heading down that path of having too much. He was living in excess. One of the things that God had warned the kings not to do.

Solomon had already put himself on a slippery slope. He had taken an Egyptian wife. He was multiplying riches to himself. His confidence seemed to grow, thinking that God was with him – that’s how he could be so rich and have so much fame and success. What did he then do?

  • 1 Kings 11:1-3
    1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
  • He then began to multiply wives to himself. He didn’t just take Israelite women. He took wives from the surrounding nations. Nations that did not worship the true God. And eventually, these wives would turn his heart away from God.
  • He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. He had one thousand women to please and to take care of!
  • 1 King 11:4-5
    4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
  • He had not remained humble in the success that God had given him. The riches had made him to lose sight of God. It had made him proud. It had made him self-confident.
  • He thought he could handle any wife that he took. He felt confident in his own ability rather than sticking to the counsel and admonition of God. But alas, even this was too great a temptation to overcome for the wisest man that ever lived.
  • 1 Kings 11:6-8
    6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
  • He would set up worship places for the different religions of the wives and he himself would eventually bow down and worship these idols.

And so the blessing of wisdom that God gave him at the beginning became a curse.

  • His wives turned his heart away from God.
  • His riches were inordinately gathered.
  • Two of the three counsels that God gave were already disregarded. It would not be hard to imagine that the third would also be disregarded as well.
  • What was it? Multiplying horses.
  • Let’s keep reading.
  • 2 Chronicles 1:16
    And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.
  • 2 Chronicles 9:28
    And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all lands.
  • 1 Kings 10:26
    And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.
  • All the counsel that God gave was disregarded. Everything that the king was warned not to do, Solomon did.

This also became a curse for the children of Israel as well. At the beginning, the wealth and riches were given from other countries that gave presents. People like the queen of Sheba enriched Solomon with many gifts.

  • However, in his quest to gather more riches he also took advantage of his own people. Solomon would have high taxes that became a huge burden to them. He became somewhat of a despotic ruler.
  • After he died, the people would ask his son Rehoboam to request a lightening of their work and tax burdens.
  • 1 Kings 12:4
    Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.
  • The children of Israel really were not happy under the rulership of Solomon. And it must have been in the later years, as the early years it was obvious that God was with him.

No amount of wisdom that God gives us can ever make us wiser than God Himself. Our wisdom can never be wiser that His word that has been written down for us. But yet Solomon in his wisdom thought it safe to trust to the counsels of his own heart instead of seeking God continually for the wisdom that comes from above.

Ultimately the wisdom that God gave to Solomon was corrupted

  • James 3:15
    This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
  • The wisdom of the world is sensual. And it was this wisdom that eventually filled the heart of Solomon, not the wisdom that comes from above.

The wisest man that ever lived was corrupted by the lusts of the flesh. So too with the physically strongest man that ever lived – Samson. We ought to be careful, to always distrust ourselves.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:12
    Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
  • We are counselled to take heed when we stand, when we have a measure success, when we are able to gather riches. It is these times that we must be most on guard. Why?
  • Jeremiah 17:9
    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
  • We can get to the point of deceiving our own selves. We can make a big fool of ourselves. We can fall.
  • Proverbs 14:12
    There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
  • We must be careful because that deception can lead us to thinking that everything is perfectly fine when in fact we are miles from where God wants us to be.

Our only safety? The scriptures, His word. To believe that all He has written down for us today is the very best way to live our lives. And that word tells us today to flee from the youthful lusts. To distrust ourselves thinking we are smart and strong enough to overcome.

Let us learn that most important lesson today. Self-distrust. And may it lead us to an entire trust and dependance on God’s word.

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