|INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDIES|
LESSON FOR NOVEMBER 27, 1994
Solomon Turns from God
KEY VERSE: “Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.” —I Kings 11:6
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Kings 11:1-13
WHILE KING SOLOMON “exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (I Kings 10:23,24), Solomon did not maintain this high reputation. One of the evidences of the Bible’s authenticity is the very candid manner in which it relates all the facts concerning its important characters. Solomon would have been held in much higher regard had the truth concerning the closing years of his life not been recorded. But they were, and we find the record in I Kings, chapter 11. The narrative begins with the statement, “King Solomon loved many strange women.” These were heathen women, with whom the Israelites were forbidden to intermarry. This was his first wrong step.
Verse 4 reads: “It came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” He went so far as to join in the heathen worship of his many wives, and even built “an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem; and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.”—vss. 7,8
Most of the Lord’s promises are conditional, the conditions being loyalty to him and the doing of his will. In Solomon’s day, and in fact through most of Israel’s national existence, the greatest temptation of the people seemed to be to worship false gods, and Solomon was warned particularly against this.
Because of this sin, the Lord told Solomon that the kingdom would be taken from him, explaining, however, that he would not do this in his day, “but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”—vss. 12,13
Solomon’s glory waned from this pronouncement until the time of his death. The Lord indicated to one named Jeroboam that after Solomon’s death he would become ruler over ten tribes of Israel. Solomon heard of this and sought to have Jeroboam killed, but he failed. Jeroboam escaped to Egypt. It was under these unhappy circumstances that Solomon, after reigning forty years, “slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father.”—vss. 42,43
In I Kings 4:32 we read concerning Solomon, “He spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.” A few of these were recorded and have come down to us in the Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles—The Song of Solomon. These books are a valuable part of the Old Testament writings. In them are furnished very important truths. The Book of Proverbs is a collection of profound yet practical axioms of truth, which are both enlightening and inspiring.
Here are a few: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”—Prov. 10:22
Solomon furnishes an excellent definition of the Hebrew word sheol translated “grave”, but in many places in the Old Testament translated “hell.” Solomon had written that there was “no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol, “hell”], whither thou goest.” (Eccles. 9:10) Evidently he knew of the heathen teaching that man has an immortal soul. So he asked the question, ‘Who can prove that the spirit of man goeth upward, and the spirit of a beast goeth downward at death.’ His answer was that they both go to the same place. See Ecclesiastes 3:19-21.