Solomon Makes Mistakes

Last week we began a discussion on Solomon. If you’ll remember Solomon was David’s son who became king after him. And when Solomon became king, God gave him a chance to ask for anything he wanted and Solomon asked for wisdom.

Word of Solomon’s wisdom spread everywhere, and Solomon became famous for his wisdom. Even a foreign queen came to see him and test his wisdom, and she left impressed.

But the purpose of Solomon’s wisdom wasn’t to make Solomon famous. It was to bring glory to God. And Solomon hadn’t lost sight of that. Let’s open our Bibles and flip to 2 Chronicles.

Someone please read 2 Chronicles 2:1-2.

2 [a] Solomon decided to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal palace for himself. 2 [b] Solomon conscripted seventy thousand laborers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hill country, with three thousand six hundred to oversee them.

Solomon decided to build a temple. If you’ll remember, at this point in the Bible, there is no temple for God. Instead there is the Tabernacle, which is basically like a tent version of the temple.

Now David had wanted to build a temple for God. But God told him no that he couldn’t. Instead his son would do so. And that’s exactly what is happening here. Solomon, David’s son, is building a temple to God.

Someone read 2 Chronicles 2:3-6.

3 Solomon sent word to King Huram of Tyre: “Once you dealt with my father David and sent him cedar to build himself a house to live in. 4 I am now about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for offering fragrant incense before him, and for the regular offering of the rows of bread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed festivals of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel. 5 The house that I am about to build will be great, for our God is greater than other gods. 6 But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?

Solomon wants to build a temple for God not because it makes him great or Israel great but to show how great God is. You have to understand that back then, people built all sorts of buildings and temples to their gods. And here were the Hebrews, claiming their God was the best of all the gods, and yet…there God only had a tent? That sort of thing would definitely make people of other cultures question the awesomeness of the Hebrew God. Why would a God who is so awesome allow his people to worship him in a tent?

We know it’s because that is how God planned it, that the tent was so that the people had a place to worship while they wandered in the wilderness. But now that Israel is a secure solid nation, it was time for Solomon to build a permanent, not moving Temple in the promised land, a place where they can keep the Ark of the Covenant and offer sacrifices to God.

If the Hebrews are God’s chosen people, and Israel the land God gave them, it’s about time—in their minds—that God would have his own great house in Israel.

Solomon recognizes that anything they build on earth cannot compare to heaven and while it will be viewed as God’s house, it cannot actually contain God. He knows that he cannot built anything beautiful and wonderful enough to actually do justice to God. But he sure can try. So he hires all the best workers and artisans, the best carpenters and metal workers who are famous for their abilities and art. And they will help him make the Temple the most people place in the world.

Solomon put so much effort and care into building the temple that it takes him twenty-years to build it. Twenty-years! It was a massive construction effort and obviously they didn’t have all the technology we have to make it easy. They would have had to do everything by hand. Which is why it took so long.

Can someone please read 2 Chronicles 5:1-10?

5 Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God.

2 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3 And all the Israelites assembled before the king at the festival that is in the seventh month. 4 And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites carried the ark. 5 So they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 6 King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be numbered or counted. 7 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 8 For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 9 The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant[a] with the people of Israel after they came out of Egypt.

So the temple is finally done and Solomon gathers all the leaders of Israel: the elders and the heads of the tribe to the city so that they can be there for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into the Temple. This is a big deal. Because the Ark of the Covenant symbolizes God’s presence and the Temple is supposed to be God’s house, so it’s important that the thing that symbolizes God actually live in God’s house. But as we’ve already studied moving the Ark of the Covenant about is not an easy task. Only certain people can touch it or move it. So they sacrifice many animals as they do this movement. And finally the ark is placed in the heart of the temple, the area called the holy of holies, where no one can go except the high priests.

When the ark is inside, Solomon dedicates the temple by speaking to everyone gathered. Let’s see what Solomon says. Someone please read 2 Chronicles 6:1-11.

6 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would reside in thick darkness. 2 I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to reside in forever.”

3 Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 4 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David, saying, 5 ‘Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have not chosen a city from any of the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, so that my name might be there, and I chose no one as ruler over my people Israel; 6 but I have chosen Jerusalem in order that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.’ 7 My father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘You did well to consider building a house for my name; 9 nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 10 Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made; for I have succeeded my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 11 There I have set the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with the people of Israel.”

Solomon praises God before all the people and reminds them of the history that has brought them here. That God chose David to rule them and chose Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And that David had been the one who wanted to build the house, but God said it would be David’s son who would do it.

The next thing Solomon does is pray before everyone, praising God for his awesomeness and his faithfulness to Israel. He points out that even when Israel hasn’t been faithful to God, God has been there for them. Someone please read 2 Chronicles 6:41-42.


“Now rise up, O Lord God, and go to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation,
    and let your faithful rejoice in your goodness.
42 O Lord God, do not reject your anointed one.
    Remember your steadfast love for your servant David.”

This is how Solomon ends his prayer, by basically invited God into the temple to live and to not reject them but rather remember his love for David and the promise he has made David.

And God it seems likes Solomon’s prayer because he appears to Solomon again! Someone read 2 Chronicles 7:12-22.

12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17 As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, ‘You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you[a] turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck you[b] up from the land that I have given you;[c] and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?’ 22 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.’”

Basically God starts out by telling Solomon that he accepts the invitation to make the temple his. He also tells them that as long as the people of the land are faithful, as long as the people of Israel follow God and pray and seek him, he will hear and forgive them.

He also reminds Solomon that his faithfulness is also important. That if like David, he follows God, then Solomon need not worry about being dethroned. And he reminds him of the covenant he made with David, that Israel will always have a king of the line of David.

And God doesn’t just end there. He decides Solomon needs a more firm warning. He basically warns him that if Solomon turns away from God, if he worships other Gods, that he will punish Solomon and it will be seen by the temple, that people will only speak of the temple in whispers and warnings.

Remember 2 Chronicles was written after the exile and Solomon’s temple was destroyed, so this section is alluding to that. It’s basically alluding to the idea that if Israel and the temple are destroyed, people will be shocked and wonder why God allowed it. But the answer is God allowed it because they turned away from him and worshiped other gods.

And this issue of worshiping foreign gods, is actually going to be an issue soon. Because Solomon has a weakness, and that weakness is his wives.

Alright everyone let’s turn back to 1 Kings. Someone please read 1 Kings 11:1-4.

11 King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the Israelites, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods”; Solomon clung to these in love. 3 Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.

We talked about last week how Solomon married pharaoh’s daughter. And that wasn’t the only foreign woman he married.

Marrying foreign women is a problem not because the people group they come from, but because they don’t worship God—they would have their own religions. This law against marrying foreign women is actually in the Torah, the Law. Someone flip to Deuteronomy 7:3-5 and please read that verse.

3 Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But this is how you must deal with them: break down their altars, smash their pillars, hew down their sacred poles,[a] and burn their idols with fire.

This law forbids the Israelites from marrying foreigners, but we’ve already seen that that’s not always followed. Rahab and Ruth, both of these women were foreigners. But what this verse is particularly concerned about is not so much marrying foreign people but marrying people who serve different gods. Rahab and Ruth both recognized the authority of God and turned to God, essentially converting. The concern of this law is that the people of God would turn away from him because of the influence of spouses can have over each other. If your spouse worships a foreign god, you might be tempted to as well.

A quick aside here: as I’ve said the issue here isn’t really marrying foreign people, it’s marrying people who worship other gods. So here’s a question. Does this rule still apply to us today? As Christians? Should Christians marry non-Christians?

Well legally in America obviously you can. You can marry almost anyone you want legally. But what does the New Testament say about this? Turns out, Paul—who wrote many books of the New Testament—had an opinion on this very topic! So someone please read 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we[b] are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will live in them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore come out from them,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch nothing unclean;
    then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be your father,
    and you shall be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

 

“Do not be mismatched with unbelievers.” The more common way you may here this is “don’t be unequally yoked.” So what is Paul saying here. He’s saying that if you are a believer and follower of God and you marry someone who isn’t, you’re mismatched. Because you can’t and won’t be able to share everything with them.

A non-Christian won’t want to come to church with you. A non-Christian might think when you pray that it’s silly. A non-Christian won’t encourage you to follow God. And this makes a relationship hard. Marriage can be hard enough without adding in a religious mismatch in the mix!

But Paul also reminds us here that there is no temple like the one Solomon built anymore, now we—Christians—are the temple of God. And if we’re a temple of God, we should keep ourselves holy and that involves keeping ourselves separate.

That said, Paul does say in another section of the Bible that if you happen to be married, and your spouse is not a believer, that is not a reason to get divorced.

So if you marry outside the faith that is between you and God, but remember that when it comes to picking a future spouse it’s very important that you guys have similar values and beliefs.

Back to Solomon: Solomon marrying foreign wives is a good political move because it binds him more closely to his neighboring countries, makes them allies instead of enemies. However, it’s simultaneously a good political move and an iffy spiritual move. But since the intent of this law is that he not start worshiping other gods. So if Solomon married these women but continued to worship God unhindered it wouldn’t really be a problem.

And Solomon falls prey to this. As he ages and gets older, his heart starts turning away from God and towards these gods that his young cute wives worship.

I’d also like to point out it says he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. So as we’ve discussed before a concubine is just like a lower class wife. So in total, Solomon had 1000 women at his beck and call. That is a lot of wives. And while some of them I’m sure were only for political reasons, it shows that Solomon has a weakness for women and the fact that his heart starts turning away from God, shows he’s letting these women influence him in ways he shouldn’t.

Someone please read 1 Kings 11:5-8.

5 For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.

These verses point out the foreign gods Solomon starts worshiping. He even builds a few of these foreign gods their own little alters in the hills. It says he basically builds an alter for a god for each of his wives’ gods! That’s a lot of gods. So yes Solomon had built a Temple to God and that is a great and remarkable act, but he also started building alters for other gods! That goes directly against the first commandment, not to worship any other gods other than God.

Also a slight aside. You’ll notice it never says Solomon starts disbelieving in God while he’s also worshiping these other gods. Nowadays that’s kind of a crazy idea. Most people believe their gods are true and no one else’s are. But people didn’t believe that back then. Your average Israelite thought everyone else’s gods were real too. It was just that the Hebrew God was the greatest God there was, more powerful and awesome than all the other gods. This is called “monolatry” which means the worship of one god without the denial of the existence of other gods.

That idea is kind of foreign to us now. We believe our God is true and real, and that there are no other gods. But people didn’t have that concept back then. Which is why Solomon didn’t have a problem with worshiping these foreign gods. To him they were real.

The problem with it is that worshiping other gods is directly forbidden by the Hebrew God. That’s literally the first and probably most important commandment. Don’t worship any other gods! And here Solomon is breaking it. Do you guys think God will be happy about this?

Nope. Definitely not. Someone please read 1 Kings 11:9-13.

9 Then the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord commanded. 11 Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; 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.”

God is angry with Solomon for worshiping other gods. Solomon is failing to keep David’s covenant with God, that as long as David’s descendants worship God then things will be fine in Israel. And God isn’t quite about it. He tells Solomon that because his heart has turned away from God, Israel will be torn apart. He says the only reason why it won’t happen in Solomon’s lifetime is because of David. But after Solomon dies God will tear Israel apart, and Solomon’s son will only have one of the twelve tribes of Israel to rule over. The rest of the tribes will be left to their own devices. This is ominous, and we’re going to see that after Solomon dies the kingdom gets split into two: Judah and Israel. And Solomon’s son is the king of Judah but not Israel.

The mighty nation that Solomon was king of will be no more. Torn apart. Because of Solomon’s sin.

Alright someone please read 1 Kings 11:41-43.

41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did as well as his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon? 42 The time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 Solomon slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam succeeded him.

Solomon rules for 40 years and then dies an old man. And that’s the end of the story of the Solomon. He was an extremely wise man, who compiled three books of the Bible, and made Israel wealthy and grand. But in his old age he turned from God, and so Solomon’s legacy will be mixed. A legacy of wisdom tainted by his sin that will tear Israel apart.