Other studies from this week's reading:
The fall of once strong and mighty believers does not often take place overnight or in one single instance. More often it’s the result of choices and inaction over a very long period of time that one day results in a complete turn.
Read and compare the following sections of Scripture:
|1Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2from 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. 3He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. 4For 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. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. 6Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. 7Then 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. 8Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.||
Q: The beginnings of Solomon’s fall have just been reviewed above. What is the ultimate misjudgment?
A: He not only accumulated many wives (especially foreign wives), but he “loved” them.
Q: What is the difference between David’s polygamy and Solomon’s?
A: All of David’s wives were Israelites. Solomon loved “foreign” women.
Q: What is the relationship between the sins of the father here (see Exodus 20:5)?
A: David sinned by committing polygamy. Solomon committed this same sin to a much greater degree with foreign women, women of spiritually bad influences. [Note: The Law was different for kings of Israel. See Dt. 17:14-17 where it specifically states a king of Israel "shall not multiply wives for himself".]
Q: Was Solomon a sincere believer in the Lord?
A: Absolutely. [See 1 Kings 8:22-61, Solomon’s great prayer.]
Application: Can a believer who is truly sincere about his or her faith fall? Why?
Q: From what countries were these foreign wives from?
A: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite were Transjordanean (east side of the Jordan). Sidonian (from Sidon near Tyre) was northeastern coast along the Mediterranean. Hittite was north, and also indigenous to the land. Egyptian was from the country God rescued the Israelites out of.
Q: Why did God warn the Israelites not to associate with them?
A: Because the people of these lands would influence the spiritual life of the Israelites in the direction of idolatry. “Ashtoreh” is a deliberate distortion of the Canaanite “Ashtarta,” (a goddess of love and fertility, associated with orgiastic religious practices and prostitution) re-vocalizing based on the Hebrew word for “shame.” This was a goddess whose worship had been all but wiped out as the Israelites took the land away from the Canaanite but was still worshipped in Tyre and Sidon. “Milcom” was another name for Molech, the national god of the Ammonites. The worship of Molech was associated with the sacrifice of children in the fire (Leviticus 20:2-5). “Chemosh” was the god of the Moabites, to whom the sacrifice of children as a burnt offering was customary (2 Kings 3:27).
Q: What was Solomon’s response?
A: He couldn’t give them up because of his love for the women.
Q: Where are the prophets or priests or Solomon's "friends" during this time?
A: Nowhere to be found. This is the problem associated with prosperity.
Q: As a result, what influence did all those foreign women have on Solomon’s spiritual life?
A: They eventually got to his heart. “For when Solomon was old…” The particular evil of Solomon was his tolerance for, and personal practice of, idolatry. Solomon became an open idolater, worshiping images of wood and stone in the sight of the temple which, in his earlier years, he had erected to the one true God. In verse 7, this high place was probably the Mount of Olives. This area is called the "Mt. of Corruption" in 2 Kings 23:13.
Q: To whom is Solomon’s dedication to the Lord compared?
A: To David who, even though he committed many grave sins, never committed idolatry.
|9Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. 11So the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. 12Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”||
Q: Did Solomon have sufficient warning?
A: The Lord had appeared to him twice, once at Gibeon (1 Ki. 3:5), the next at Jerusalem (1 Ki. 9:2). On both occasions God warned Solomon so he was without excuse.
Q: What is God’s response to Solomon, and what does He say He’ll do?
A: Solomon’s kingdom as he knows it will end, and it will be taken from his son. One tribe will be left in honor of David (Judah). The Lord’s tearing of the kingdom from Solomon was announced in Ahijah’s symbolic action of tearing his garment in v.29-39. The tearing of the robe, picturing the loss of the kingdom, recalls the interaction between Samuel and Saul (1 Samuel 15:27-28), when the Lord took the kingdom away from Saul because of his disobedience. The great gifts to Solomon followed by his great abuse warranted such a judgment.
Q: David had committed numerous sins, such as polygamy, adultery, murder, and census taking. Solomon had committed many sins as well. But why did God come down so hard on Solomon and not on David, who very well may have committed more sins? And why is Solomon compared with his father David in terms of being “wholly devoted” to the Lord?
A: The answer is simple. The critical issue is whether or not you stay in a personal relationship with God. As long as you keep going back to Him and Him alone, there is always hope for forgiveness in spite of the consequences for the sin. But once you turn away from God and begin seeking help from another source, no longer trusting in Him and Him alone, He can no longer help you. That is why Solomon experienced greater judgment than David. David never left the Lord; Solomon left the Lord, and therefore all hope of restoration. That is why the First Commandment is the First Commandment, and why idolatry is the greatest sin of all.
The following is an excerpt from Expositor’s Bible Commentary:
“When one considers the grand heights of Solomon’s spiritual fervor and the great wisdom granted him by God, it seems impossible that he could have been so foolish as to succumb to idolatry. Yet it did happen, not overnight, but by slow degrees. First it was tolerated in his household. Once he became accustomed to it and comfortable with it, he also began to participate in idolatry with his wives. Solomon never renounced the Lord, but his heart was not entirely devoted to the Lord either. The syncretism that he began to display was a curse that plagued Israel through the years and ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and to the exile of the people…Intermarriage inevitably led to toleration and finally observance of Canaanite religious practices. Another danger lay in the fact that there was great similarity in some of the religious terminology; and though the theology behind the terms was radically different, it was very easy to adopt by degrees a comfortable syncretism and ultimately to forget the Lord and to serve idols.”
|Application: Have you allowed something to creep in alongside your Christianity that really shouldn’t be there? Is there something that needs to be removed now before it takes hold and leads to irreparable spiritual damage?|