1 Kings 10–13: Fools & Consequences

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 24: Tuesday

So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.
1 Kings 10:23–25

Tuesday’s Bible reading is 1 Kings 10–13. In these chapters Solomon goes from his apex to his nadir, and  as a consequence, after his death the kingdom of Israel becomes divided. Chapter 10 tells of the Queen of Sheba and kings visiting Solomon to hear his wisdom. In chapter 11, Solomon turns away from God, forgetting his own words:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7

He disobeys God’s clear command, and the king who had been given great wisdom, makes the choices of a fool:

“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.”
1 Kings 11:1–8

The Lord tells Solomon that because he has not kept God’s statutes or covenant, He will tear the kingdom from Solomon and give it to his servant. For David’s sake, He will not do this while Solomon is alive, but the Lord will do it to his son. The last part of chapter 11 lists some of Solomon’s adversaries, including Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim and the son of one of Solomon’s servants. The prophet Abijah tells Jeroboam that God will tear ten tribes of Israel away from Solomon and give them to him and build an enduring house for him if he will follow the Lord.

Solomon dies at the end of chapter 11, and in chapter 12, his son Rehoboam becomes king. But as a new king, rather than listening to the counsel of elders who had served his father and lightening the hard service and heavy yoke Solomon had laid on Israel, Rehoboam foolishly listens to the advice of young men he grew up with, and he tells the people he will make their yoke even heavier. Consequently, except for those who lived in Judah, Israel rebels and makes Jeroboam their king.

Jeroboam, in turn, foolishly rebels against God by setting up two golden calves to be the people’s gods to keep them from returning to Judah to worship God at the temple in Jerusalem. He institutes his own feasts and sacrifices, making priests of men who are not of the tribe of Levi. But in spite of warning, Jeroboam does not repent, bringing judgment upon his household.

These three men had been given so much—especially Solomon—but they threw kingdoms away in their own pride and rebellion against God. They did not fear God; they despised wisdom and instruction; they consequently brought God’s judgment upon themselves.

One thing that’s been fascinating to see while going through different books of the Bible simultaneously has been the juxtaposition of Scripture and the way in which the Word of God fits together. The tabernacle, the building of the temple and the destruction of the temple were all read about within a few days. After starting Proverbs about two weeks ago, today’s reading was about the demise of Solomon’s wisdom and the breaking up of his kingdom. May we heed what they did not:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas, Isaak Asknaziy: Public Domain.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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