Foundational Framework Part 40 - Losing Sight of the Lord

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.

The details surrounding King David’s reign are worth studying, but for the sake of our overall goal they will not be covered. With the sins of adultery and murder that takes place regarding Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1-12:23) great disruption and anguish follows David’s reign until the end. I am sure that we are able to look back at choices that we have made that only had ourselves at the center, altering our lives for less than what could have been. This is the power of sin and the consequences that accompany it. For David, the kingdom was never the same.

Due to this egregious sin, the child that was conceived dies (2 Sam 12:15-23). However, a bright moment of grace comes from this terrible instance in the birth of Solomon by Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24-25). “Solomon” comes from the Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom). The text tells us that Solomon was loved by YHWH, who sent a message by Nathan the prophet that He would name him “Jedidiah” meaning “beloved by YHWH.” Though we do not see a reoccurrence of “Jedidiah,” it has been explained that “it is possible that Jedidiah was his given name, and Solomon was his throne name. It was not unusual in the ancient Near East for kings to reign under a different name than their given name.”[1] It is not until the book of 1 Kings that we see the account of Solomon unfold, finding him anointed as king of Israel to succeed his father David (1 Kgs 1:39). On his deathbed, David gives a final exhortation to his son.

1 Kings 2:1-4. Any time that someone is close to death in the Scriptures, their parting words hold an emotional weight that might otherwise be absent (See 2 Tim 4:6-8; 2 Pet 1:12-15; 3:1-2). It is in these times that the Holy Spirit speaks to people in such a way that leaves an undeniable impression. David’s final recorded words to Solomon call upon him to keep the Law of Moses. David, as evidenced in his personal writings (ex. Psalm 1), understands that fellowship/intimacy with YHWH is the key to a successful and blessed reign as Israel’s king and that the times where this was not valued had resulted in great personal loss and grief. An interesting reason for keeping the Law of Moses is stated in v.4: “so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”

This may cause confusion since our previous examination of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:8-16; Psa 89:1-37) repeatedly provided the assurance that David’s house, kingdom, and throne would be established by YHWH “forever.” All concerns are quickly resolved when we think about the disciplinary emphasis that the Lord included in these promises (2 Sam 7:14-15; Psa 89:30-37). YHWH does not excuse sin. It is completely abhorrent to Him and must be brought to justice. This pronouncement is no different than what has been seen with the Abrahamic Covenant in respect to the children of Israel after the Exodus and whether or not they entered the Land of Canaan. “Though the covenant is unconditional with respect to its ultimate goal of bringing in the Messiah from the line of David, each individual king must heed God’s Word from the heart if he would experience the blessing of God.”[2] Responsibility yielding blessing was before each successive king, but the overall plan would find its fulfillment because of the certainty of YHWH’s promise.

1 Kings 2:5-9 finds David calling upon Solomon to tie up the loose ends that he had left undone at his death. As king, righteousness was to be upheld, and sins of treason were to be brought to justice. While Solomon’s reign is known as a reign of peace (and there is a noticeable absence of war), this is largely because of David’s commitment to conquering opposing forces (2 Sam 4:1-12; 8:1-15; 10:1-19).

1 Kings 3:1-15. Verse 1 is troubling and profound. At the time of Moses’ return to Egypt, Pharaoh was the ruler of all of the known world and Egypt was considered the world’s singular superpower, having no rival. In the time of Solomon, the daughter of Pharaoh was given in marriage. This is profound because of the prominence that Israel had attained in the world’s political arena, previously being Egypt’s slaves, but it is troubling for two reasons:

First, Solomon’s marriage to this woman is stated as forming an “alliance” with Egypt. One cannot help but to question why, seeing that YHWH is the Protector and Defender of Israel. Second, the guidelines that would have been handwritten by the king from Deuteronomy 17:17 would have specified that he was not to take many wives unto himself at risk of having his heart turned. This is especially true in being married to a foreigner who may have no appreciation for YHWH’s relationship with Israel. The mention of “high places” (1 Kgs 3:2-4) showed that pagan worship was still active in some sense, with verse 2 specifying that the worship of YHWH was taking place in them. These “high places” were formerly used for Baal worship (Num 22:41, along with other idols- Lev 26:30) and were initially commanded to be torn down by YHWH when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan (Num 33:52; Deut 33:29). It was later the great conviction that the reading of the Law gave to King Josiah that he began cleansing the land of false idols and graven images, even tearing down the places of worship in the high places (2 Kgs 23:15).

The text is clear, Solomon loved YHWH (3:3) even though he still sacrificed at the high places (3:4). The devotion of the heart is right, but the careful manner in which one was to follow the words of the Lord were off. In His grace, YHWH calls out to Solomon in a dream, giving him the opportunity to ask something of Him (3:5). In humility of heart, and with complete understanding of who YHWH is and His relationship with David, Solomon asks for wisdom (discernment) because he recognizes his inadequacies in being a suitable judge over God’s people Israel (3:6-9). This is pleasing to Adonai (notice the change- v.10, 15). Because of his unselfish request, Solomon is granted all of the things that he did not selfishly ask for, which placed him in a category altogether different.

1 Kings 4:29-34. This passage demonstrates the fulfillment of God’s promise to Solomon and the influence that he exercised which attracted nations and their kings. Solomon is credited with great works, both in wisdom and song; some of which are contained in the Bible as the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. We also see in 4:33 that Solomon had understanding in botany and zoology and that his wisdom drew a great and varied audience (4:34).

Solomon was privileged to build a Temple for YHWH, which the details surrounding this are recorded from 1 Kings 5:1-6:38 and 7:13-51. The finest materials and the most skilled laborers were commissioned for the job. Of particular note is 1 Kings 8:5-11. With the completion of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was brought in to take up residence in the Holy of holies. YHWH is pleased with this, and the shekinah (meaning “to dwell”) glory of YHWH fills the Temple (v.10-11).

The pronouncement to Israel and the prayer of dedication found in 1 Kings 8:12-53 are worth reading, especially for devotional purposes.

1 Kings 8:54-61. This pronouncement draws attention to Solomon’s posture, but more importantly to the emphasis placed on the fulfillment of God’s Word, just as YHWH had spoken. Verse 58 calls on YHWH to move the hearts of Israel toward Him, which is seen by keeping what God has spoken in the Law. The reason for this plea is so that the nations of the earth would know that YHWH is superior over all, greater than any other god (8:60). The call is then made to the people to devote their hearts to YHWH, committing themselves to keeping His ways.

We need to pause and let this verse linger in our minds. The language here communicates that the people were to let their hearts be “complete with” YHWH, being “intact” and “undivided” in their commitment to Him. Obeying YHWH was of critical importance. Israel’s relationship and intimacy with YHWH was a witness to the nations, speaking of His goodness and grace, as well as His standards that fostered a fellowship between the Creator and His people (Deut 4:6-9). Remember, no other nation had this kind of relationship with their god.

1 Kings 9:4-9. As before, the Lord reiterates His promise, along with His approval of the Temple (9:1-3), but in v.4 the call to faithfulness is made to Solomon again, encouraging him with blessings for faithfulness and with cursing for unfaithfulness (Deut 29:23-27). YHWH is aware that no one is beyond falling away due to the sin nature. The mention of serving other “gods” is seen in v.6 & 9 as the reason that cursing would come. YHWH would not only cast Israel out of the land but would also have the Temple demolished, become a mockery in comparison to its shining glory (9:8a). The ideas of the Temple becoming a “byword,” a “proverb,” and something that people would “hiss” at in astonishment brings the ideas of shame and humiliation to mind (9:8). This would not be misconstrued by the nations as the Lord’s inability to bring Israel into the Land as Moses pleaded with Him before (Num 14:15-16). Instead, the responsibility for such calamity falls squarely on the shoulders of Israel and their chasing after and serving other gods (9:8-9). Despite these warnings and the clear communication of the consequences, the unthinkable occurs.

a. This passage is painful. Solomon, the wisest man on the face of the earth, the man whom the Lord God allowed to build a house for His name when David did not receive this privilege, fell to other gods by way of the many women that he had surrounded himself with, both as wives and as concubines (11:1-2). We are told that Solomon “loved” these women, but also that he “held fast” to these in love. Being the king, and having for himself a handwritten copy of the Law, it would seem ridiculously out of sorts that this should be the world’s wisest man’s folly in life, being led to sacrifice to other gods and to have abandoned his faithfulness to YHWH (See Deut 17:14-20).

In v.2, the author of 1 Kings reminds us that YHWH had previously warned against the intermarriage of Israel with these pagan nations, of which we find recorded in Exodus 23:31-33; 34:12-16; and Deuteronomy 7:3. As was previously told, these women “turned his heart away” when he was old (11:3-4). We are told that “his heart was not wholly devoted” to YHWH, which stings when we consider that the same word used for “wholly devoted” was previously observed in 8:61 as the exhortation that Solomon gave to Israel after the completion of the Temple. What adds to the shame of this occurrence is that the gods that Solomon chased after are mentioned by name. Ashtoreth of the Sidonians is a fertility goddess that was previously worshipped by Israel in Judges 2:13 and 10:6. Milcom and Molech in v.7 are both mentioned as deities of Ammon and are largely considered one and the same. Both names are a derivative of the Hebrew word melek which means “king.” What is frightening about worshipping Molech is that the ritual commonly surrounding him was child sacrifice (2 Kgs 23:10; 2 Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 19:5–6; 32:35)! With Solomon, this practice is not mentioned at all, but with the verse references given, we can understand how this redirection toward foreign deities could have served to open the doors of later rebellion against YHWH. The last god mentioned is Chemosh of Moab (Num 21:29) who also had some ties to child sacrifice as seen in 2 Kings 3:27. His name means “subdue” and he was believed to be revered by the Ammonites as well. It is said in 11:7 that Solomon “built a high place for Chemosh” and for Molech, and offerings were made (11:8).

Solomon’s lust for women had led him into grave disobedience. First Kings 11:9-10 show this plainly. Solomon’s heart had turned away. In v.11-13 YHWH speaks of the consequences for Solomon’s infidelity, just as He had promised previously in 9:6-9. The Lord is clear, the kingdom will be taken away from Solomon, but not during his lifetime “for David’s sake,” which is mentioned twice and “for the sake of Jerusalem” being mentioned once. David’s faithfulness and love for YHWH went a long way in protecting Solomon, his son.

The kingdom of Israel is divided, with Judah (and Benjamin) to the south and Israel (being the other ten tribes) to the north. This occurs in 1 Kings 11:14-13:34 with Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king over Judah and Jeroboam as king over Israel. These accounts are worth investing great time in to see the progression of sin that stemmed from Solomon’s folly.

1 Kings 11:6 sums up the situation, “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.” We must follow the Lord fully! Being “complete with YHWH,” intact with Him, and undivided. None of us are beyond falling away. Sin, left unchecked, will entice our flesh to act against the truth of God’s Word, whether it is sex, money, power, or notoriety. Sin brings death!

[1] John D. Barry, Douglas Mangum, Derek R. Brown, et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), 2 Sa 12:25.

[2] R. D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, “1, 2 Kings,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), p. 34–35.