Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Nehemiah 13:26). This moral royalty is open to all. The prize is nobler than that of the most glittering "corruptible crown." From this kingship Solomon fell, though he retained the throne of the nation. The rascal often lurks in the heart that is under an anointed face. Let us consider -
I. THE OCCASION OF THIS DELINQUENCY.
1. Solomon had many wives.
(1) This was an invasion of God's order. That order was exhibited in Eden, when Eve stood singly by the side of Adam. Lamech was the first polygamist (Genesis 4:19). He was, ominously, the fifth in descent from the fratricide Cain.
(2) Moses tolerated polygamy, as he also suffered divorcements, not with approval of these customs, but rather in judgment upon the people for the hardness of their hearts (see Matthew 19:8-9).
(3) This principle will explain many Mosaic ordinations the observance of which was a burdensome yoke, and from which, by the mercy of Christ, we are happily released (Acts 15:10, 11). Note: God's order cannot be invaded with impunity. It is our duty carefully to ascertain it, and faithfully to keep it.
2. His wives were strange women.
(1) Not only were they foreigners, they. were also idolaters. There is no proof that even Pharaoh's daughter was a proselyte. Solomon could have no spiritual sympathy with these without compromising his loyalty to Jehovah.
(3) The spirit of this inhibition still binds (see 1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14). The reason for it is in the nature of things and must abide. Note: Many a man has had his heart pierced and his head broken by his own rib.
3. David had too many wives.
(1) The example of David may have injuriously influenced Solomon. A large harem may have been a sign of grandeur; but these kings ought to have been superior to such fashions (see Deuteronomy 17:17).
(2) The evils in the examples of good men are especially mischievous, for they are liable to be condoned into harmlessness; the more readily so when to follow them is agreeable to natural inclination.
(3) They are liable to be carried farther. If David had many wives, Solomon had very many. David's wives were chiefly daughters of Israel, but Solomon's were daughters of foreign idolaters. Amongst his 700 wives and 300 concubines, not one was good (see Ecclesiastes 7:28). Note: Good men should be especially watchful over their influence - parents, ministers, Sunday school teachers, professors of religion.
II. THE PROGRESS OF THE EVIL.
1. First the heart is set against the head.
(1) The earliest record here is that Solomon's heart was turned away. His head at first seems to have been clear, as Adam's also was, who, though in the transgression, yet was "not deceived" (1 Timothy 2:14). But his heart, like that of Adam, was fatally susceptible to female influence.
(2) It is a foolish thing in a wise man to trust his head when he gives his heart to evil. "Man at his best is vanity."
2. Then the heart rules the head.
(1) This is the next stage and inevitable. This may be disputed long, but will assert itself in time. Observe well that when Solomon was "old" he so far yielded to the influence of his wives as to encourage and join in their idolatry.
(2) Probably his vices made him prematurely old. Calmer supposes him to have been eighteen years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned forty years (ver. 42). Thus he could be only fifty-eight at his death.
3. Finally the wise man becomes a fool.
(1) Behold this wisest of men trying to solve the impossible problem of serving Jehovah and Ashtaroth! He went not fully after the Lord his God as did David his father.
(2) David indeed fell into grievous sin, but his offence was more directly against man; indirectly against God. Even then the offence as against God was the venom of his crimes (Psalm 51:4). But the sin of Solomon was against God directly. Note: Offences against society are denounced without mercy by men, while the mental rebellion of the unbeliever against God is even glorified as "honest doubt!" but the Bible is explicit that "He that believeth not shall be damned."
(3) Behold this wise man further building a temple to Molech, the murderer, the devil, on the Mount of Olives, over against the temple of the Lord, the glorious work of his royal youth! Could folly go farther?
(4) The mischief of Solomon's idolatry remained to the times of Josiah (see 2 Kings 23:13). Who can say that it terminated even then? Eternity will declare. - M.
I. THE SIN.
1. Its nature. He not only aided his wives to continue their idolatrous worship, he himself participated in it. He went after strange gods, seeking their favour and observing their ordinances. The worship of Jehovah was not discarded, but delight in the true God was gone, and the flame of that loving zeal for God's commandments died away: his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God. The worship now offered in the temple was the lingering tradition of a brighter past, a thing of custom and outward necessity, and the heart was given to baser worships, sensuous and sensual The soul had ceased to drink at the fountain of living waters, and was drinking at the fountain of death. Is our heart perfect with the Lord, our delight in His love, our hunger after His righteousness as deep as in the past? Do we offer a cold and formal worship to Him, while our heart warms into living interest and strong desire only at the world's shrines?
2. Its guilt.
(1) God had given Solomon unparalleled wisdom, wealth, and power, and all were now turned against his Benefactor. All that fame and influence were used to glorify idolatry and lessen zeal for God's service. How often are God's gifts thus turned against Him!
(2) The sin of Solomon became the sin of Israel (ver. 33). The responsibility of parents in regard to their children's attitude toward God - the responsibility of the leaders of thought and of society, of all of us, as to how we influence men in their attitude toward the things unseen and eternal.
3. Its sadness. It was his last work, the sin not of youth but of old age. The light which God had kindled did not flame out into eternal glory, but went out in eternal night. The seeds of sin and disaster were sown among his people, his life a wreck, his memory not a star to guide the wanderer in the darkness, but a warning beacon on the waste of death! The story of many a life besides: will it be the story of thine?
II. WHAT LED TO IT.
1. Unregulated affections. The wisdom of marrying only in the Lord. The danger of worldly alliances and worldly friendships.
2. The despising of God's commandments (see ver. 2, and Deuteronomy 17:16, 17). The counsels of God were lightly esteemed. Many commands of God are today held to be antiquated and are quietly ignored. The directions of Scripture in regard to what are deemed minor things are set aside. The spirit of unbelief is there. For individuals and for churches it must prove a seed of sin and spiritual disaster.
3. The human love displaced the Divine. The spirit of disloyalty needed only a strong enough inducement to go further, and it found it here. To please his wives, altars to their gods were built on Mount Olivet, and then his own soul was taken in the snare of their abominations. The testimony which we are called to lift up in the face of all life away from God is safety for our own soul. It is hard to do it, but there is life in it for ourselves and, it may be, for others also. - U.
I. How THE ANGER OF GOD IS PROVOKED. It is provoked -
1. By the turning, away of the heart from Him.
(1) And justly so, for to do this is to outrage the highest propriety. God is everything that should engage the affections of an intelligent creature - "the perfection of beauty;" "the altogether lovely."
(2) For to do this is the straight road to the deepest demoralization. Man is made in the image of God expressly that his nature may have its perfection in union and communion with Him. To turn away from God must lead to depravation evermore. This, in other words, is everlasting damnation.
(3) Then let us keep our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). No diligence should be spared. Our life is in it.
2. By doing this wantonly.
(1) It was an aggravation of Solomon's sin that God had appeared to him. Review the circumstances of the vision he witnessed before he set about the building of the temple (see 1 Kings 3:5-15). He could not have been wholly ignorant of the glorious character of God.
(2) It was a further aggravation that God had appeared to him twice (ver. 9). Review the circumstances of the vision after the work of the temple was finished (see 1 Kings 9:1-9). Note: Privileges imply corresponding responsibilities. Note further: God keeps account of His favours conferred upon us, though we may forget them. He will remind us of them all in the great day of judgment.
(3) It was an additional aggravation that he had been forewarned of the very evils into which he fell. And the promises of God to him had been so remarkably verified that he had the best reason to accept the truth of His admonitions. How slow of heart are the men to believe the inflexibility of Divine justice!
(4) A king who exacts obedience from subjects, or a master who claims the obedience of servants, should be the last to forget his duty to God. Consider -
II. How THE ANGER OF GOD IS EXPRESSED. It is expressed -
1. In the severity of justice.
(1) The kingdom of Solomon was now doomed to be rent. He had divided his affections (between Jehovah and Molech), so are the affections of his subjects now to be divided.
(2) A considerable portion of his kingdom is to be turned over to one of his servants. What a fitness there is in this judgment also! Solomon, the servant of God, rebelled against God; Jeroboam, the servant of Solomon, rebels against Solomon.
(3) What a melancholy reversal! Time was when God loved Solomon (see 2 Samuel 12:24; 1 Kings 10:9; Nehemiah 13:26). Severe is the fall from the height of a throne. From a vastly greater elevation is the fall of one east from the bosom of God.
(4) Behold how sin works ruin! It ruins individuals, families, nations. The anger of God is expressed -
2. With the mitigations of mercy.
(1) For the sake of David his father these judgments were not to come upon Solomon in his day. We little know the benefits or the evils entailed upon us by our forefathers. We should see that we entail not evils but benefits upon our descendants.
(2) "For David's sake!" David, the beloved, was a type of Christ, for whose sake the entail of infinite mischief is cut off from his sons, and they are made heirs of inestimable blessings.
(3) Even Rehoboam was to reap the benefit of the faithfulness of David. One tribe, the most important, was to be retained to him. The promises respecting the true son of David must be fulfilled.
(4) "For Jerusalem's sake," also, mercy must rejoice upon judgment (ver. 13). The temple was there. The shechinah was there. Kingdoms are spared the severity of judgments in respect to the interests of religion in many ways little dreamed of by statesmen and rulers. - M.
I. SINS ARE SET IN THE LIGHT OF PAST MERCIES.
1. Solomon's idolatry is contrasted with the advantages conferred upon him, The Lord had appeared to him twice. The reality of God's existence and His personality had been engraven upon Solomon's soul.
2. With the commandment given. The Lord "had commanded him concerning this thing." The rebellion and ingratitude are both marked. Our sins are judged not only in themselves and their effects, but also in the light of what God has done and said to us. There is a baseness and an enmity in sin that will yet crush the sinful heart. Do we weigh sins in this way? Does our repentance read them thus? God's judgment will: "Forasmuch as this is done of thee," etc.
II. THE DIVINE JUDGMENT.
1. Hopes frustrated. Solomon may have excused his sin to himself because it conciliated neighbouring princes and nations and so strengthened his kingdom. But while he fancied himself building up, he was in reality casting down. Forgetfulness of God is forgetfulness of one's own good.
2. Pride abased. The dominion is given to a servant. There is not only loss but shame. There are first that will be last, and last first.
3. Punishment reflects sin. Solomon's rebellion and ingratitude are punished by rebellion and ingratitude. The kingdom is rent from him by a subject, and by one whom he had trusted and advanced (ver. 28). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." As the wicked have shut out God, God will shut out them.
III. THE DIVINE MERCY. In God's chastisements there is ever a gateway of kindness through which we may pass up into His forgiveness and love.
1. The judgment is delayed. It was a heavy judgment that the kingdom should be rent from his son, but it would have been an added bitterness had his own day set in disaster and shame.
2. The whole will not be taken even from his son. His seed will still reign in Jerusalem.
3. There is humbling even in the mercy. It is done for David's sake and for Jerusalem's sake. Pride is crushed beneath God's mercy as well as beneath His judgment. We are pardoned for Christ's sake and His name's sake. In the midst of rebuke for iniquity there is mercy and life for lowly faith. - U.
Luke 22:31). The sins which constituted Solomon's decadence - against which, through him, we are warned - appear to have been these:
I. SENSUALITY. His base self indulgence grew upon him, as it does on any man. The life he lived was degrading to his manhood. Love became debased to lust, because it was divorced from purity. Physically, as well as morally, he became a wreck, and though not 60 years of age when he died, he was already weary, broken, and old (ver. 4). Some light may be thrown upon his downward progress by the books which bear his name, and which, if not written by him, were declarations of the experience he knew. If the Song of Solomon represents his bright youth, when love, though passionate, was undefiled, the book of Ecclesiastes is the outcry of his age, when all seemed "vanity and vexation of spirit," and when he tried once more painfully to lay the old foundation of the shattered fabric of his life (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Compare him with Samson; show how the indulgence of passion destroys kingliness. Even such sin was not beyond pardon. It would have been well for Solomon had he returned to God, as his father had done (see Psalm 51.)
II. EVIL COMPANIONSHIP (ver. 2). The Israelites were often warned against marriage with the heathen. At times ordinary international intercourse was forbidden. Instances are given in which disobedience to this law of severance brought terrible effects. Some companionship is essential to man. The hermit must be a very imperfect Christian. John the Baptist was in the wilderness, but Christ, whom we follow, was ever found in the haunts and homes of men. Yet under the new dispensation the wise choice of companionship is insisted on, and provided for. The twelve apostles were associated together, as well as separated from others; and in their work they went forth by two and two. The Apostolic Church presents a beautiful picture of fellowship (Acts 2.) It is amongst the wise hearted and devout that we are to find our friends. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." The importance of this to the young, whose characters are not yet formed. Hence responsibility rests on parents, who can encourage or hinder acquaintances, and on young people themselves. He must have something of Christ's wisdom and strength, and must be animated by His motives, who, like Him, would be safe and useful amongst "the publicans and sinners."
III. EXTRAVAGANCE. The wealth of Solomon was enormous. The treasure saved for him by David seemed inexhaustible, and the tribute from other peoples (1 Kings 10:25), the monopolies granted by the king (1 Kings 10:28, 29), the importation of gold from Ophir (1 Kings 9:28), etc., brought immense revenues. The king was proportionately extravagant. See the account given of his palaces, his gardens, and his retinue. No country could long bear such a strain. Increased taxation was necessary, and this was one of the causes of the break up of the kingdom under Rehoboam. Show in modern life the temptations to extravagance and ostentation; the injury caused by these sins to a nation; the moral perils to which the extravagant are exposed; the diminution of help to God's cause and to God's poor.
IV. OPPRESSION. He appears to have copied the Pharaohs not only in magnificence, but in disregard for human suffering. The Canaanites were reduced to the position of helots; multitudes were torn from their homes to fell timber in the forests, or hew stone in the quarries. Even the Israelites had to do forced labour. Kings have responsibility to their people, as well as the people to their kings. God's laws were violated by Solomon (Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9). Show from history the Nemesis of oppression. Indicate manifestations of the spirit of tyranny in business, in homes, schools, etc.
V. IDOLATRY. Solomon erected temples to Ashtoreth, Milcom, and Chemosh. Describe the idolatries specified. All idolatry, sternly forbidden. The cultus of these deities hideously cruel, dark, impure. Heathenism degrades man and dis-honours God. Show the steps which led Solomon to the commission of such egregious sin.
(1) He was broad in his views, far advanced from the traditional knowledge of the age, and often conversed with wise men of other creeds. Slowly he lost his sense of the pre-eminence of the truth revealed to him. He saw what was true in other systems, but meantime lost his horror at what was false in them. This one of the special perils of our age; point it out.
(2) He wished all that was connected with him to reflect his own magnificence. It was not enough that his wives and concubines should be at liberty to worship their idols; they must do it splendidly, if at all, for his glory was concerned in their acts.
(3) He would please and attract surrounding nations. This partly for commercial ends, chiefly for personal glory. Base motives lead to fake policy, and false policy prepares for national ruin.
1. The possibility of ruin to those whose religious advantages are greatest.
2. The retribution heavier in proportion as the offence is aggravated by neglected warning. - A.R.
1 Kings 9:6) has come to be fulfilled. He was forewarned of danger and yet has fallen into it. The splendour of royal circumstance remained the same, but how completely has his true glory departed! "How is the gold become dim and the fine gold changed!" The smile of God that rested as glad sunshine on his head, has turned to "anger." The cause of the change is in the secresy of his own soul. The Scripture narrative is silent about the course of his tuner life, the phases of thought and feeling through which he may have passed; so that this sudden note of discord in the midst of the harmony strikes us with something of sad surprise. Enough, however, is said to show that it was a moral change in the man himself. The Lord God of Israel had not changed in His purpose or method; it is Solomon whose "heart is turned from him." How far this was a fatal change, a real apostasy, we know not. We need not attempt to solve the purely speculative question as to whether he ever recovered from his fall; his later writings suggest at least the hope that it was so. Enough for us now to note the facts, to trace the causes, and learn the lessons. Certain broad principles of moral life are here strikingly illustrated.
I. THE TREACHERY OF HUMAN NATURE. Beneath the fairest exterior there may be latent germs of evil that only need outward incentives to develop themselves into disastrous issues. Even the inspirations of the highest wisdom and the raptures of religious emotion may have underlying them tendencies to the grossest forms of folly and the lowest deeps of sin and shame. Solomon was sincere enough in his earlier piety, but too little alive to the slumbering forces of evil that he bore within him. His moral history confirmed the truth of his own proverb: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26). An Arab tradition says that in the staff on which he leaned there was a worm which was secretly gnawing it asunder. That worm was the hidden corruption of his moral nature. It is a solemn lesson: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." We can look upon no form of wrong doing in others without being reminded that there is something akin to it in ourselves. Concealed in our own bosoms there is that which might possibly develop into similar issues. Our only security lies in the triumph of that gracious Divine power that can thoroughly purge the fountain of the heart, and destroy there the very germs of evil.
II. THE BASE USES TO WHICH THE HIGHEST ADVANTAGES OF LIFE MAY BE PERVERTED BY THE WAYWARD HEART. Solomon's greatness became the occasion and aggravation of his fall. His royal magnificence fostered "the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life." His consciousness of power degenerated into tyranny (1 Kings 12:4; 1 Samuel 8:11). The wealth of his emotional nature took the form of illicit love and boundless self indulgence. His studious interest in Nature induced the dream of occult mysterious powers in material things, and the practice of magic arts. His intercourse with men of other nations led to his catching the infection of their idolatries, until at last the rival temples of Moloch, Chemosh, and Ashtaroth, with all their cruel and abominable rites, frowned darkly upon Olivet, over against the glorious house of the Lord on Mount Moriah. So fatally may the noblest personal endowments and the richest advantages of life foster the evil tendencies of the heart when once it has surrendered itself to their control If it be true that "there is a soul of goodness in things evil," it is equally true that nothing is so good but that the spirit of evil may transform it into an instrument of moral injury. The fascinations of outward life are full of danger when that spirit lurks within. The wealth of a man's intellectual resources, the multitude of his possessions, the range of his influence, do but put into his hands the more abundant means of wrong doing when his heart is not loyal to the good and true.
"The fairest things below the sky III. THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE RETRIBUTIONS. Solomon cannot sin with impunity. His personal defection involves the throne in dishonour and the whole nation in discord and sorrow. He had been forewarned that it should be so, and the threatenings of God are as sure as His promises. What is God's "anger" but just the reverse side of that faithfulness that secures the purposes of His grace? What are His judgments but the severer methods of His holy love? An inexorable Nemesis tracks the path of the transgressor; not a mere blind fate - not a mere impersonal law of moral sequence - but a Divine will and power, pledged to vindicate the cause of eternal righteousness. It may follow him slowly, as with "leaden foot," but sooner or later it overtakes him. "Whatsoever a man soweth," etc. (Galatians 6:7, 8). And though one only may sow the evil seed, how many, often, are the reapers! "The sins of the fathers are visited on the children," etc. No man can "perish alone in his iniquity." According to the range of his social relations so is the mischief his wrong doing works. When the king falls, how many fall with him! The laws of God "must work their will, IV. THE MERCY THAT TEMPERS DIVINE JUDGMENTS. The execution of the sentence is both delayed and modified. Not in Solomon's own reign shall the thing be done; "nor shall the kingdom be wholly torn from his house" (vers. 12, 18). This is partly from tender regard for the sacred memory of David his father, and partly, we may believe, in mercy to himself, that space may be given him for repentance (see Psalm 89:30-37). We have here a type and example of the general method of God's ways. "In wrath he remembers mercy." Something of gracious forbearance is seen in the severest of His judgments. His chastisements are fatherly. And beneath the darkest providences and the sternest retributions there is the steady flow of a loving kindness that endures throughout all generations, the strength of a covenant that shall never be broken. - W.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE RETRIBUTIONS. Solomon cannot sin with impunity. His personal defection involves the throne in dishonour and the whole nation in discord and sorrow. He had been forewarned that it should be so, and the threatenings of God are as sure as His promises. What is God's "anger" but just the reverse side of that faithfulness that secures the purposes of His grace? What are His judgments but the severer methods of His holy love? An inexorable Nemesis tracks the path of the transgressor; not a mere blind fate - not a mere impersonal law of moral sequence - but a Divine will and power, pledged to vindicate the cause of eternal righteousness. It may follow him slowly, as with "leaden foot," but sooner or later it overtakes him. "Whatsoever a man soweth," etc. (Galatians 6:7, 8). And though one only may sow the evil seed, how many, often, are the reapers! "The sins of the fathers are visited on the children," etc. No man can "perish alone in his iniquity." According to the range of his social relations so is the mischief his wrong doing works. When the king falls, how many fall with him! The laws of God
"must work their will, IV. THE MERCY THAT TEMPERS DIVINE JUDGMENTS. The execution of the sentence is both delayed and modified. Not in Solomon's own reign shall the thing be done; "nor shall the kingdom be wholly torn from his house" (vers. 12, 18). This is partly from tender regard for the sacred memory of David his father, and partly, we may believe, in mercy to himself, that space may be given him for repentance (see Psalm 89:30-37). We have here a type and example of the general method of God's ways. "In wrath he remembers mercy." Something of gracious forbearance is seen in the severest of His judgments. His chastisements are fatherly. And beneath the darkest providences and the sternest retributions there is the steady flow of a loving kindness that endures throughout all generations, the strength of a covenant that shall never be broken. - W.
IV. THE MERCY THAT TEMPERS DIVINE JUDGMENTS. The execution of the sentence is both delayed and modified. Not in Solomon's own reign shall the thing be done; "nor shall the kingdom be wholly torn from his house" (vers. 12, 18). This is partly from tender regard for the sacred memory of David his father, and partly, we may believe, in mercy to himself, that space may be given him for repentance (see Psalm 89:30-37). We have here a type and example of the general method of God's ways. "In wrath he remembers mercy." Something of gracious forbearance is seen in the severest of His judgments. His chastisements are fatherly. And beneath the darkest providences and the sternest retributions there is the steady flow of a loving kindness that endures throughout all generations, the strength of a covenant that shall never be broken. - W.
1 Kings 11:9-131 Kings 11:9-13. After the consecration of the temple Solomon reached the culminating point of his reign, both in a spiritual and temporal point of view. His fame and his dominion continued to increase. The Queen of Sheba came from the far East to pay him homage. From this summit of glory he had a sudden and shameful fall, and became all but an apostate. This son of David, whose high honour it was to have built and consecrated the temple of Jehovah, this heir of the promises on which hung the salvation of mankind, sank into idolatry. The causes of his fall were - 1st, PRIDE: he forgot to give glory to God. 2nd, LUST: strange women enticed him after strange gods (1 Kings 11:8). The fall of Solomon repeats in a manner the features of the first transgression. It began in the desire to be as God, and was consummated in the gratification of the flesh. Its emphatic warning to all God's people is, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Chastisement from God is the consequence of this fall. God had already warned Solomon that His most glorious promises were contingent on obedience to His commands. "If thou walk in my ways," etc. (1 Kings 3:18, 14). God chastens Solomon because He loves him, and does not altogether take His mercy from him, since He still leaves the kingdom of Judah to his descendants. The book of Ecclesiastes, with its blending of bitterness and repentance, is perhaps the ripening fruit of this merciful severity. - E.deP.
I. GOD STIRRED UP ADVERSARIES AGAINST HIM.
1. In themselves these were inconsiderable.
(1) Hadad the Edomite! What can he do? He is indeed of the seed royal of Edom, but then Edom is tributary to Solomon, and Hadad in an exile in Egypt.
(2) Rezon the Syrian! What can he do? He was only a captain under Hadadezer, king of Zobah, whom David defeated, and who fled with his men, over whom he seems to have acted as a chief of banditti.
2. But they have been quietly acquiring influence.
(1) Hadad, who was a lad when he fled from David, has now attained to man's estate; is in high favour with Pharaoh, and has become brother-in-law to the monarch of the Nile.
(2) Rezon also, taking advantage of the apathy of Solomon, who is too much engaged in the seraglio to pay close attention to the affairs of his distant provinces, is already in Damascus and on the throne of Syria.
3. With God behind them they are now formidable.
(1) The fly is a feeble creature, but let God send it forth as a plague, and Egypt is in agony. So Hadad, again amongst his Edomites, is by a competent Providence enabled to work "mischief" even to Solomon!
(2) Rezon also is in a position to gratify his abhorrence of Israel "all the days of Solomon," or to the end of those days.
(3) Let us see the hand of God in all the events of life. Let the discernment of symptoms of His displeasure lead us to repentance and reformation. Let us never despise the day of small things, for the great hand of God may be in it. It is difficult to distinguish the trifling from the momentous.
II. HE STIRRED UP THOSE ADVERSARIES BY MEANS.
1. They were reminded of the sufferings of their people.
(1) When David conquered Edom there was a fearful carnage. For six months Joab was engaged in cutting off all the males, until, no natives surviving, Israel had to bury the slain (vers. 15, 16). This slaughter was sufficiently dreadful, though it may only have extended to those old enough to bear arms. Hadad was not an infant then, but (נער קטן) a little boy - of sufficient age to see what was going on and make his escape with the servants. Rezon was of an age and in a position to estimate the miseries which the Syrians suffered when "David slew" them, which sufficiently accounts for the manner in which he "abhorred Israel." Wars are the cradles of resentments.
(2) These terrible massacres have their justification in the sins of the people who suffered them. In executing the wrath of God upon Edom, David fulfilled the famous prophecy of Balaam (see Numbers 24:17-19). But in this David was the type of Christ, the true Star of Jacob and Prince of Israel, whose anger will sweep His enemies to extermination.
2. They were persuaded that the opportunity was ripe for revenge.
(1) They heard that the warriors were dead (ver. 21). They were no longer paralyzed by the sound of the once terrible names of David and Joab.
(2) As for Solomon, he never was a warrior. And now he is stupefied by idolatry, and enervated in the harem.
(3) Consequently they put on a bold front, and from different points harassed and distracted Solomon, apparently with impunity. For the king of Israel knew that God was angry, and "conscience makes cowards of us all." Who can afford to have God for his enemy? Solomon could not afford it. Can we? Who would not make peace with such an antagonist? He proposes His own terms. Why do we not repent and believe the gospel? - M.
I. CHASTISEMENT IS MERCY. Though the judgment was kept back, Solomon was meanwhile made to feel the rod of correction. We may be forgiven and yet chastised - yea, chastised because we are forgiven. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth," etc. This, too, was mercy, for -
1. It was fitted to lead him to seek God in truth. It is easier to feel and confess our folly and sin in adversity than when all is well with us,
2. It revealed to him the kind of harvest he had prepared for his child. He was now reaping the fruits of his father's fierce vengeance (see ver. 15). The story recorded on the page of Scripture was then on Israel's lips and in Solomon's thoughts. When God visits for sin, the iniquity of the past is remembered. Sins are seeds that produce harvests of trouble for those who come after us; and Solomon's reaping the fruit of his father's deeds must have set before him the legacy of judgment he was bequeathing to his own son. And yet Solomon does not seem to have been benefited. Are we reading the lessons of our chastisements?
II. OUR ENEMIES ARE GOD'S INSTRUMENTS.
1. When they assail us it is of Him. The Lord stirred them up. They had been adversaries before, but they had hitherto been powerless to harm Israel (see ver. 4). But now in Solomon's fall the day of their opportunity came. Our foes are held as in a leash by God. Without His permission they can attempt nothing: when they are loosed it is of Him. They serve Him and in the truest sense serve us. In the midst of evil deeds and evil speech let us look past all to Him.
2. God's restraining hand is still upon them. Though Hadad and Rezon attempted more, they were not permitted to succeed. So far as they may serve us they are allowed to go, but no further. - U.
I. THE OBSCURITY OF HIS ORIGIN.
1. He was an Ephrathite of Zereda.
(1) The tribe of Ephraim was not obscure; on the contrary, it was next in importance to Judah. But that importance was collective - arose from the multitude of its people. An individual Ephrathite would rather be lost in the multitude.
(2) As to Zereda, so little was this place among the thousands of Ephraim that it is mentioned only here, and would have been forgotten but for Jeroboam. Note: Places derive notoriety from men. Men are greater than places.
2. He was the son of Nebat and Zeruah.
(1) Of these persons we should not have heard but for the part their son played in history. How much of our reputation is adventitious! Unenviable is the notoriety gained through relationship with the devil. How truly glorious is that man who rejoices in the imputed righteousness of Christ!
(2) Yet Nebat and Zeruah founded the reputation of Jeroboam. They had the moulding of the child which became the father of the man. This is the true reason for the association of their names with his.
(3) In this view there is something judicial in this association of the names of parents and child. Their influence, though obscure, was sure, and now finds expression. What an expression will there be of obscure influences when the momentous resultants come out in the disclosures of the great judgment!
3. He was the son of a widow.
(1) Why is this noted, but to suggest that through the death of Nebat the responsibilities of the home at Zereda early devolved upon Jeroboam? Thus, those executive powers which brought him under the notice of Solomon had early scope. How little we know of the purposes of Providence in the bereavements and afflictions of famine.
(2) Private afflictions are suffered for public uses. In suffering, let us not murmur but listen to the voice of God, and pray that the dispensation may be sanctified.
II. HIS ADVANCEMENT TO POWER.
1. He became a mighty man of valour.
(1) This fact is recorded, but not the stages by which he became so known. Many a struggle occurred which had no other record than in this resultant. The value of circumstances is expressed in resultants. Let us attempt to weave all the circumstances of our lives into a character of goodness that will endure forever.
(2) Jeroboam had an energetic spirit and probably a robust physique. These he inherited. Neither for genius nor good constitutions are we indebted to ourselves. We owe much to our ancestors.
(3) But he cultivated his natural parts. Many are richly endowed by nature, but waste their endowments as an idle spendthrift wastes an inheritance. Our very faculties may become obliterated by disuse (Matthew 25:28).
2. His abilities were discerned by Solomon.
(1) This is noted to have occurred in connection with the building of Mille, and the closing of, or to close, the breaches in the city of David (ver. 27). Possibly Jeroboam distinguished himself against Jebusites, or some other malcontents, or in closing those breaches in the face of the enemy.
(2) Possibly the industry that attracted the notice of Solomon may have been simply in superintendence of improvements in the buildings at Millo and the fortifications. Providence finds opportunities for those who are ready to enter the opening door (Proverbs 22:29).
3. He was promoted to the charge over the house of Joseph.
(1) From an individual once lost in the multitude of this great house, he is now conspicuous before the multitude. His being an Ephrathite is now of importance to him. Let us never quarrel with circumstances, for we never know what may prove of service.
4. Now he lifts his hang against his patron.
(1) Prosperity brings out the character. He is moved by ambition. Much would have more. He aspires to a throne. His success had encouraged this desire before he met Ahijah (see ver. 37).
(2) He rebels against the author of his prosperity. Ambition smothers gratitude. How human! Is not this the case with all rebels against God?
(3) How plainly we can see baseness when manifested by man toward his fellow; but how slow we are to see this when ingratitude is toward God! The obscurity of our origin is no bar to our advancement in the religious service of God. "Not many noble are called." - M.
I. THE UNWEARIED EFFORTS OF GOD TO WIN MEN FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is the beginning of the story of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
1. He is met by mercy. The widow's son is made king of Israel.
2. By counsel and promise (ver. 38). The seed is east upon the stony ground and among the thorns, as well as upon the good soil. Learn -
1. That, like the great husbandman, we should sow the seed of the kingdom everywhere; though men may not hear, God is served and glorified in that offered mercy.
2. It is no proof that all is well with us, that we have been the recipients of God's goodness, or that His Word has touched and searched our heart: is there any fruit?
II. THE SPIRIT REQUIRED IN ORDER TO REAP LASTING BENEFIT FROM OTHERS' DISASTERS.
1. Sympathy with them in their suffering. The judgment which is to fall upon Solomon and Israel is laid upon Jeroboam's heart. He went out clothed with a new garment, he returned with a handful of fragments, the symbol of the new kingdom and the effect of God's judgment. We cannot rightly enter into blessing springing from another's loss if we pass in with a light heart.
2. Recognition of them as still objects of Divine mercy (vers. 34, 36). The house of David was not to be utterly cast out. The love that smiles on us is still round them.
3. Recognition that the gift we receive is from the hand of the same Master. Blessing and judgment hang for him upon the same issues (vers. 33, 38). Only in lowliness and brotherliness can we rightly receive the gifts God sends us.
III. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF THWARTING THE DIVINE PURPOSE (ver. 40).
1. Solomon's attempt to remove the danger by slaying Jeroboam is defeated. His life is guarded till his work is done.
2. It only serves the Divine purpose. Jeroboam's enmity is secured. He is sent down to Egypt and strengthened by alliance with a power unfriendly to Israel. Fighting against God, we only bind our cords the more firmly, we kick against the pricks. To humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God will bring us into the light of mercy: to contend with Him is destruction. - U.
I. THE ELEMENTS OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. Natural ability. This belonged to the son of Nebat in large measure, as his subsequent history shows. Shrewdness, courage, self-reliance were his. These, and similar gifts, are unevenly distributed amongst men. Children at school are by no means equal in powers of attainment. In business, one man will make a fortune where another would not suspect a chance. Amongst the advantages of such inequality are these: that the higher and lower grades of work required by the world are alike done; and that room is given for the exercise of generosity, self-conquest, etc., in our social relations.
2. Personal diligence. With all Jeroboam's faults he was not idle. He did thoroughly and well what came to hand. This is the secret of success, both in student and business life. It rectifies the balance sometimes between men of unequal ability. The tortoise wins the race against the hare. The student conquers the genius. Where it is added to ability, success in life is certain. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings: he shall not stand before mean men" (Proverbs 22:29). "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule" (Proverbs 12:24). Examples: Abraham's servant; Joseph in Egypt, etc. Show how this is true in the higher sphere of the Christian life. "To him that hath to him shall be given," etc. He that is faithful with few things will become ruler over many.
3. Kindly interest. "Solomon saw the young man." This added an element of uncertainty to his prospects. It seemed a chance, but was under the rule of God, as the history shows. Diligence and fidelity should be ours, whether or no we have the notice of the earthly master, for the unseen King is ever watching us. We are to work with singleness of heart, as unto the Lord; to serve others "not with eye service as men pleasers," etc. Show the responsibility which rests on employers to develop, and encourage, and put to the best use the gifts of their employes. Promotion should follow merit.
II. THE POSSIBILITIES OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. It is possible to defend others. Jeroboam was known in future times of danger as the man who "enclosed the city of David." Higher possibilities than that belong to successful men. How they can guard those employed by them from disease, from moral contamination, from ignorance, etc. The responsibilities of landowners, manufacturers, etc.
2. It is possible to lighten the burdens of others. As ruler over the tribute, Jeroboam could alleviate or aggravate the burdens of the tribe. Point out what could be done by far-seeing, right-hearted statesmen to lessen the troubles of the poor, the miseries of subject races, the burdens of taxation, etc.
3. It is possible to become ready for loftier rule. He who was the overseer of one tribe became the king of Israel. The discharge of the duties of the former office made those of the latter less arduous. Apply this to the preparation of men for the nobler rule of heaven, by the exercise of powers for God in the earthly sphere.
III. THE PERILS OF WORLDLY SUCCESS.
1. Ingratitude. Jeroboam fostered ill feeling against Solomon in Ephraim till he was expelled the kingdom. Men often kick away the ladder by which they rose to fortune. Give examples. The wish to forget the past in which they wanted help, and to attribute to their own skill what came from the kindness of others, tempts to this. Even poor parents have been left uncared for by prosperous children.
2. Impatience. Jeroboam was to have the kingdom, as Ahijah told him, but he could not wait for Solomon's death. His first exaltation and the words of the prophet aroused greed and ambition which would not be stayed. A man who has known nothing but success is more impatient than are others at a disappointment or difficulty. It is harder for him than for one trained in the school of adversity to say, "Not my will, but Thine be done." His is seldom the "meek and quiet spirit" which is, in the sight of God, of great price.
3. Rebellion against God. He heard from Ahijah's lips these words of God about Solomon - "I will make him prince all the days of his life;" yet during his life Jeroboam tried to dethrone him. Compare this conduct with that of David towards Saul. The contrast is the more remarkable because of the provocation David received, and because the son of Jesse, unlike the son of Nebat, had been actually anointed king. He had no right to seize what God had promised to give. Jacob learnt this lesson in the house of Laban. In this disregard, or defiance, of God was the germ of Jeroboam's ruin. His rule was (like Solomon's) conditional on obedience to the Divine will (compare ver. 38 with 1 Kings 9:4-6). Stability depends on God; the seen on the unseen. No cleverness, no diligence, no human help can bring lasting prosperity to a soul, or to a nation, which forsakes righteousness and forgets God. - A.R.
I. A PROPHECY.
1. This was expressed in sign.
(1) The Shilonite provided himself with a new garment. This was intended to symbolize the kingdom. The same sign had been similarly used before (see 1 Samuel 15:27; 1 Samuel 24:5). Note: His people are the honourable clothing of a prince (see Proverbs 14:28).
(2) The garment was new. The kingdom of Israel was as yet young. Solomon was but the third monarch in succession. The garment was whole. So was the kingdom, as yet, unbroken. Note: The robe of Christ was seamless and woven throughout, which suggests the perfect unity which will appear in the subjects of His heavenly kingdom. Note further: That in His transfiguration, which symbolized His kingdom (see Matthew 16:28; Matthew 17:1), His raiment shined "as no fuller on earth could white it," suggesting the purity and glory in which the subjects of that kingdom are to shine (Matthew 13:43).
(3) But the robe in the hands of the prophet, the messenger and representative of God, is now rent into twelve pieces, according to the number of tribes composing the kingdom, ten of which were given into the hand of Jeroboam. Note: God disposes. In its militant state the kingdom of Christ is subject to revolutions, but not so in its triumphant and heavenly state.
2. The prophecy also is expressed in words (vers. 31-39).
(1) Thus the testimony is twofold. It appeals to the eye, also to the ear.
(2) History verified the predictions to the letter. What a testimony to the truth of God is the harmony and correspondence of prophecy and history!
II. ITS REASONS. These are expressed and implied.
1. The sin of Solomon is specified (vers. 31, 33).
(1) Solomon forsook the Lord. God never forsakes us unless we first forsake Him. Let us be admonished.
(2) He worshipped idols. Ashtoreth, the impure Venus of the Zidonians; Chemosh, the abomination of the Moabites; and Milcom, or Molech, the devil of the Ammonites,are put into competition with the God of Israel! Whoever is so foolish as to forsake God will surely become the dupe of devils.
(3) We notice the plural pronoun, "they have forsaken Me," etc. Not Solomon and his wives, for these heathen women had never known God;but Solomon and the Israelites drawn away by his influence and example. Men seldom sin alone. Accomplices are involved with their leaders in a common retribution.
(4) He forgat the good example of his father David. This is mentioned to his discredit. We are accountable to God for our advantages. For godly parents, godly ministers, opportunities.
2. The piety of David is remembered.
(1) It is remembered in the mind of God. Let sincere Christians who are apt to be discouraged at their failures take comfort from the fact that God is more willing to remember our good endeavours than our failures. David in glory would know the blessedness of this.
(2) It is remembered to the advantage of his offspring on the earth. The temporal judgments upon Solomon's sins were mitigated in consequence of David's piety. Would not David, in glory, have satisfaction in this?
3. The Scriptures must be fulfilled.
(1) David was to have a light always before God in Jerusalem (Psalm 132:16, 17). The family of David mast be preserved until Messiah comes to be the Light of the Gentiles.
(2) As David was a type of Christ, so was Jerusalem, with its temple and shekinah, a type of His Church. Of this Church, Christ is the everlasting Light (see Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 60:19, 20; Revelation 21:23).
4. No mention is made of any goodness in Jeroboam.
(1) This omission is significant. It suggests that the Ephrathite was used only as the instrument of Providence for the punishment of sinners; and for this service had the reward of his ambition. Therefore the success of our desires in this world is no certain proof either of our goodness or of God's favour.
(2) But in respect to his service God gave Jeroboam a glorious opportunity by goodness to make himself great like David (see ver. 38). What opportunities does God graciously vouchsafe to us! Let us utilize them to the best possible account. - M.
1 Kings 11:29-36; chs. 1 Kings 14:21-31; 16:1, 2, 25, 26James 1:15). This is true also in the history of individuals; and we have in this fact one of the strongest evidences that we are under the government of a holy God. Let us never forget that His holiness is at the same time love, and that through all the dark and sorrowful vicissitudes of our life He is carrying out His plan of mercy. In spite of all its falls, its wanderings, and its woes, Israel did fulfil its preparatory mission. If in the end the theocracy tottered to its fall, this failure also entered into the conditions of the Divine plan. Israel was never treated by God, however, as a mere passive instrument. God gave it repeated warnings, as, for example, by the mouth of the unknown prophet who was sent to Jeroboam to declare to him the judgments of God (ch. 13.) - E. de P.
I. HE SANK UNDER A DENSE CLOUD.
1. His morning was very bright.
(1) From his youth he was beloved of God. In token of this he received from God the name Jedidiah (2 Samuel 12:24, 25). Could any distinction be more glorious? Let the young among us aspire to this distinction.
(2) When he came to the throne this name was changed to Solomon, the Peaceable. The wars of his father David were everywhere so triumphant, that no adversary now appeared (1 Kings 5:4). The love of God brings peace.
(3) He was zealous and faithful in building the temple of the Lord, which he devoted to God in a noble dedicatory prayer, and had an answer in the descent of the holy fire upon the sacrifices, and in the Shekinah taking possession of the house. Those who are beloved of God and rejoice in His peace are fit agents for the building of the spiritual temple of the Lord.
(4) He was blessed by God with extraordinary wisdom, not only in the arts of government, but also in various walks of learning (1 Kings 3:8-10; 1 Kings 4:33). The profoundest philosophers have been godly men. The boast of sceptics to the contrary is not sustained by fact.
(5) He was inspired by God to contribute books to the sacred Scriptures. The Chaldaisms which occur in the Ecclesiastes are not sufficient to wrest the authorship of that book from Solomon, to whom the Jews have ever ascribed it; for these it may have acquired in passing through the hands of Ezra.
2. But his evening was very black.
(1) His reign extended over forty years, and a considerable portion of that period he was under bad influences. Pharaoh's daughter is though[ to have been a proselyte to Judaism, but of this there is no proof.
(2) This foreign marriage was followed by about seven hundred more. These were distinguished as princesses (ver. 3). Not that they were daughters of kings, but wives of Solomon, of the second order, Pharaoh's daughter being queen. Beside these were the three hundred concubines. Such a harem, in its number alone, was a plain violation of the law (Deuteronomy 17:17). But he was still further guilty in making alliances with heathen women (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3, 4).
(3) The very evils predicted happened to Solomon; through these he was drawn into the grossest idolatry (vers. 5-8).
(4) The last act recorded of him was that of seeking to kill Jeroboam, who to avoid his resentment took refuge with Shishak, king of Egypt. Shishak was brother-in-law to Hadad, the Edomite adversary of Solomon, but not the father of Solomon's wife, as some have supposed. If, as the narrative suggests, this design upon the life of Jeroboam was in consequence of his knowledge of the prophecy of Ahijah, it was an evidence of extreme wickedness, for it was fighting against God. It was the very sin of Saul against his father David. And in this purpose he seems to have persisted to his death; for Jeroboam remained in Egypt until that event. How fearful are the evils of apostasy! How admonitory!
II. BUT IS THERE NO SUNSHINE IN THE CLOUD? Some think they see it -
1. In the promise of God to David.
(1) The promise referred to is recorded 2 Samuel 7:12-17. But was not Solomon, who was chastened with the rod of men by Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam, the subject of the mercy of God, in that his family was continued in the throne of Judah? In this he was distinguished from Saul, whose succession was cut off.
(2) Unless this answer can be shown to be insufficient, the Calvinistic argument based upon this text for the infallible final perseverance of the saints is simply a begging of the question.
2. In the Divine approval of the reign of Solomon.
(1) The passage relied upon in this statement is 2 Chronicles 11:17. But when the commencement of the rule of Rehoboam in Judah, for three years, is commended as according to the example of David and Solomon, the allusion, as far as Solomon is concerned at least, was to the manner in which he commenced his reign.
(2) This is sufficient for the consistency of the text. To make it prove more would make it prove too much by committing God to the approval of what He has elsewhere explicitly condemned.
(3) Rehoboam, who as king of Judah, like his father Solomon, began his reign well, fell into the snare of Solomon in multiplying wives (see 2 Chronicles 11:21).
3. In his authorship of the Ecclesiastes.
(1) The argument is that upon the message of God, by Ahijah, as is supposed (vers. 9-13), Solomon repented, and afterwards wrote this book, in which he confesses the vanity of his past life.
(2) But the theory of his repentance upon that occasion ill consorts with the history of his seeking the life of Jeroboam, because he was destined to give effect to the burden of that message. True repentance will bear meet fruit (Matthew 3:8).
(3) The Ecclesiastes was more probably written before than after the apostasy of Solomon. The allusions to his experiences as "king over Israel in Jerusalem" may have been prophetic anticipations, which may explain the past tense, "was king," which is agreeable to the prophetic style. When all has been said that can be alleged to encourage hope in Solomon's end, the doubt is grave enough to instruct us that we must not presume upon God's mercy, and sin. Let us rather hope in His mercy, repent, and sin no more. Praise God for the Great Atonement! - M.