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King Solomon's Follies

Back to King David, now ruling the 'United Kingdom' of Judah and Israel from Jerusalem, his new capital city. For all of his positive virtues, it was David's shortcomings that defined history, with regard to the 'Promised Land'. Because of his adultery with Bathsheba, God was to tell him, in 2 Samuel 12:10, 'the sword shall never depart from your house', which set the scene for a lot of deep bother for the future 'House of David'.

These prophetic words found fulfillment with his very own son, the handsome Absalom, who tried to usurp his father's position as King. He was so big-headed that he had a monument made in his own honour erected near Jerusalem. Unfortunately his big head contributed to his demise ... literally. He got it stuck in an oak tree and ended up with three javelins in his heart, courtesy of the commander of David's army.

The next King of Judah and Israel was Solomon, another son, but David's chosen successor. Here was a man who started off so promisingly, with a one-time offer from God in a dream of whatever he wanted. He chose wisely, wisdom was his choice, rather than a long life, riches or power. God was so pleased with this unselfish choice that He gave him the lot anyway, so Solomon had everything he could have needed and his reign was indeed very fruitful.

The nation prospered like never before, he built a palace and the magnificent First Temple in Jerusalem and expanded the United Kingdom, his influence reaching as far as the river Euphrates to the north and Egypt to the west. He wrote poetry (Song of Songs), philosophy (Ecclesiastes) and proverbs (Proverbs). Was there anything he couldn't do? Well, there was one thing - he had difficulty in restraining himself with the fairer sex. Seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines seemed to be overdoing it a bit, but it was in the spiritual, rather than the physical realm where we see dire consequences of these dalliances.

The clue is in 1 Kings 11:1-2, when it is noted that Solomon's lovers included those from nations with which God had forbidden His people to intermarry. The reason was to do with spiritual pollution and we see the consequences in 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'.

God reminds Solomon that, through his actions, he had not kept the covenant. This is serious stuff. What covenant was he referring to? This was easy, as it was clearly the first two of the Ten Commandments being referred to. Solomon had taken to other gods and had indulged in idol worship, acts prohibited under the covenant made with Moses (see Exodus 20:1-4). He had broken some of the terms of the covenant and, as he was King of Israel, the consequences were going to be dire indeed.

They were. God now vows that the Kingdom will be taken from Solomon's family and given to 'one of his subordinates'. This was going to happen in the subsequent generation. Solomon was offered this mercy not because he deserved it, but for the sake of his father, David. Also, as a measure of the esteem the Lord had for David, it was decreed that one tribe, Judah, is to remain, 'for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen' (verse 13), 'the city where I chose to put my Name' (1 Kings 11:36).

So, because of the sin of one man, Solomon, the United Kingdom was going to be split in two, resulting in two separate people, with two separate destinies.

King David was God's special favourite. How often we see how the kingdom of his royal descendants was spared judgement, citing no other reason than the fact that David was their illustrious ancestor. The real reason for this was that just as God had protected David's illustrious ancestors - from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through to Boaz, Obed and Jesse - He was also going to protect David's not-entirely-illustrious descendants too. This was the Messianic blood-line, the blood line of the Messiah. This had been protected from the time of the Hebrews, through the sojourn in the desert by the Israelites, then through the conquering of Canaan and would pass down the generations from David, for another thousand years. It may have been a royal blood-line by virtue of the fact that it would produce, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, a Messiah King, but it managed to bypass all the hereditary Kings on its journey through the ages.

Looking at the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3, it's interesting to note that the usual suspects, Solomon and the (not so) great Kings of Judah, don't get a look in. Instead we are treated to Nathan, David's ninth son, followed by a procession of unknowns, from Mattatha onwards. God has always chosen the weak, the flawed, the low-born to accomplish His plans. It's why we feel safe in our own destiny and why we love Him so much.

Steve Maltz
November 2013

(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation)

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