1 Kings 11:1-13 Week Four
Have you ever gone on a diet? Or, if not a diet, how about a healthier lifestyle? I’m going to assume all of us have at some point in our lives. Any guesses on what the most common day-of-the-week diets are begun? Monday! Any guesses on what day of the week is most recommended to be the start of a new diet? Mondays! Or Sundays. Calendars are usually designed with either Sunday or Monday being the first day of the week. As a result, Mondays, as well as Sundays, have a “fresh start effect” on us. The same principle applies as to the time of day we begin a new regime. Has anyone ever started a diet in the middle of the day? Chances are no because each day also provides a “fresh start”.
Now, how many of you have started a diet on Monday and do fairly well? On Tuesday, you get up with an attitude to have another successful day. Wednesday, somehow the protein bars or shakes just aren’t filling you up quite as well, so you grab a small handful of trail mix or some kind of “healthy” snack. Peanut M&M’s are basically just trail mix, right? Thursday, you figure that if the handful of trail mix (or peanut M&M’s) didn’t hurt you on Wednesday, 2 handfuls will be just as harmless. By Thursday night, you’ve decided that you’ve done well all week (all 4 days!) and you deserve a little treat. You go to the freezer, pull out the Mayfield ice cream, squirt some Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and top it off with some chopped pecans, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and because you’ve done so well, some sprinkles. After “treating” yourself to your homemade sundae, rich in sweetness, your tastebuds crave something salty. You snag a few potato chips, or well, really, maybe half a bag, and munch on them while watching TV. Maybe you decide to satisfy that craving for something salty with popcorn because that’s probably healthier. Of course, you can’t have chips or popcorn without a soda, so there goes your self-imposed ban on soda. Friday morning, you wake up and feel a little sluggish. You walk by the trash can, see the empty Mayfield carton and potato chip bag and figure you really blew it. You know you shouldn’t have eaten what you ate. So, what are you to do? Well, go back to eating what you want because, after all, today is Friday, it’s the beginning of the weekend and no one diets on the weekend. You’ll start again on Monday. Because Mondays are a good day to start a diet, right? And the cycle starts all over again!
My goodness, I hope you can relate to that and it’s not just me! I cringe to think of how many diet do-overs have I done over the years! We may have the very best of intentions, but soon find that it doesn’t take long for us to lose sight of our aim and wander far off course from where we intended. It’s not just diets, though, is it? How many have started off a new year determined to read the Bible in a year and by the end of January, we find that our days are just too busy to make that happen? Anyone pledge to find a least one thing every day to thank God for and somehow struggle to keep that pledge? There are countless other things that we promise ourselves, others, or God with which we will be consistent.
We all struggle with keeping commitments, and promises from time to time. Some of those failures are minor with what would seem to be little to no consequence. But some of those broken promises can be catastrophic; not only to ourselves but to others as well.
“When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it communicates to that person that we don’t value him or her. We have chosen to put something else ahead of our commitment. Even when we break small promises, others learn that they cannot count on us. Tiny fissures develop in our relationships marked by broken promises.
We are not only communicating all of this to others, we are telling ourselves that we don’t value our own word. We think it is okay to let someone down, to say something we don’t mean, or to fail to follow through on something we said we would do. Not keeping a promise is the same as disrespecting yourself. Ultimately it can harm our self-image, self-esteem, and our life.”[i]
Remember how two weeks ago we discussed that God asked Solomon what He could give him, and Solomon asked for wisdom? And God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that He gave Solomon not only wisdom but also in 1 Kings 3:13-14 NKJV we are told that God gave Solomon more. “13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
Then do you remember that time that Solomon stood before the newly built Temple and praised God for all that He had done? Instead of focusing on the extravagance that had gone into the Temple, Solomon was more concerned with the Israelites not obeying and pleasing God? Yeah, those were good days for Solomon. Those were Monday for Solomon. He had the right attitude and the best of intentions for obeying God. His focus was on pleasing God. His desire was to worship God. His priority was God, bottom line. Solomon started off strong.
We’re going to find Solomon today easily distracted, losing his drive for obedience, letting go of some of that God-centered focus, and reaching for the peanut M&M’s and potato chips of sinfulness.
1 Kings 11-:1 MSG “King Solomon was obsessed with women. Pharaoh’s daughter was only the first of the many foreign women he loved—Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite. He took them from the surrounding pagan nations of which God had clearly warned Israel, “You must not marry them; they’ll seduce you into infatuations with their gods.” Solomon fell in love with them anyway, refusing to give them up.”
That first sentence alone tells us a lot. King Solomon was obsessed with women. His father, King David, favored the women as well. He had eight wives who were named, ten concubines, and then later we are told that he took on more wives and concubines. We don’t know David’s total number, but I think it’s safe to assume it was nowhere near Solomon’s number.
1 Kings 11:3 NIV “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.”
I know we are just on verse 3, but let’s do a quick recap. Solomon has a total of 1,000 wives and concubines. Scripture tells us he was obsessed with women. No duh! There’s a big problem with this because in Deuteronomy 17:17 GNT “The king is not to have many wives, because this would make him turn away from the LORD;” Is it just me or do you think Solomon’s 1,000 would qualify as “many”?
Those 1,000 women that were the object of his obsession weren’t good God-fearing, Israelite women. These were foreigners and they were pagans. They had their own god(s) and brought those gods with them into their relationships with Solomon. And, God had warned Israel not to marry those from pagan nations because of exactly what happened to Solomon. His heart becomes divided. He doesn’t stay committed to God.
Solomon’s downfall was women. But what are things that pull us away from our commitment to God? Family. Jobs. Hobbies. Friends. Books. Movies. There is no limit to the things we can easily become distracted by; things that will pull our loyalty and heart from God. Most of the things that divide our hearts are not bad things, they’re not sinful things on their own. What makes them sinful is when our hearts become fragmented, when we begin to love something else as much as or more than God. Mark 12:30 ESV “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
“I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.” John Piper
Did you know that July 21st is National Junk Food Day?!
If you’ve committed to healthy eating for a period of time, I think you may relate to this. Before getting on a health kick, you may have eaten whatever you wanted to eat. Ice cream, nachos, potato chips, chocolate candy bars, cookies, cake, pizza, etc. As you start to eat healthier, you must stay disciplined to avoid certain things. You must consciously make choices to eat healthily and not eat that which isn’t healthy. Don’t get me wrong. The platter of nachos, the slice of pizza, and the slice of the birthday cake are still going to look good to you, but if you’re dedicated, you’ll resist although you can’t help but think of how it will taste. But say you decide to indulge with some cake when your birthday rolls around. If you’ve been eating healthier, chances are that the cake is going to taste too sweet to enjoy. That cake that you would have devoured before the health kick doesn’t taste quite as good as you remember. And, most likely, you’re going to feel sluggish after eating it because your body has gotten used to the healthy stuff and now you’ve brought in something unhealthy.
Our spiritual health works the same way. If we dedicate ourselves to improving our spiritual health and resisting those things which are unhealthy, eventually we’ll find that those things that enticed us before don’t “taste” the same. They’re not as fulfilling, not as satisfying as we once thought them to be. And we’re not going to feel as good as we did when we were concentrated on keeping our spirit healthy. Those unhealthy things can be almost anything; especially anything that keeps us from worshipping God and God alone and from glorifying Him.
That’s where Solomon went wrong. But instead of repenting and returning to God, Solomon compromises and conforms to his women. 1 Kings 11:4 NIV “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.”
Here’s where I struggle with Solomon’s choices. Solomon had asked for and was given wisdom from God. 1 Kings 4:30 BSB “Solomon’s wisdom was greater than that of all the men of the East, greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 11, however, begs the question: If Solomon was so wise, why did he flagrantly disobey God like he did? Our only conclusion is that there’s a big difference between wisdom and faith.
I must admit to you that I feel so inadequate to be in a teaching position because there is SO much I don’t know; there is SO much I don’t understand. Perhaps you can understand where I’m coming from. I will hear others reciting Bible verses from memory, recalling Bible stories of obscure people, and displaying all kinds of Biblical wisdom in their speech and it makes me feel inferior. I wonder if those around Solomon felt the same way. I wonder if those in his inner circle were intimidated by his God-given wisdom. I can’t help but think that they knew their level of wisdom wasn’t even in the same neighborhood as Solomon’s. But I also wonder if they recalled the words of David, King Solomon’s own father, who wrote in Psalm 19:14 ESV “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” And then I must wonder if they questioned Solomon’s heart; if people were aware of the meditation of Solomon’s heart and saw that it wasn’t God. I say that because I’ve known people who had a deep well of Biblical knowledge. They took advantage of every opportunity to quote scripture and use Biblical examples in everyday situations. But their hearts. Something seemed missing. There was a disconnect between their head and their heart. There was a broken link between their wisdom and their faith. It’s a matter of head knowledge vs. heart knowledge. Solomon, at this point in his life, has the head knowledge, but his heart knowledge is lacking.
1 Kings 11:4 NIV “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.”
You see, Solomon became distracted. He was seduced, just as God had warned. And here’s the thing. He didn’t acquire all his wives and concubines at once. It was a gradual process. It started off with the daughter of Pharaoh. With her, he invited a pagan worshipper to become his wife all for the sake of a political alliance. If one political alliance was good, two were better. Three, even better. And before he knew it, one thousand distractions, one thousand hooks pulling him away from God. Solomon grew to love women more than he loved God. His wisdom of knowing God and knowing the consequences of disobeying God were shoved into a corner so that his heart, his love of women, could prevail. I find it ironic that it was King Solomon who wrote Proverbs 4:23 NLT “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Solomon’s unguarded heart not only determine the course of his life, but it also determined the course of his family and all of Israel.
1 Kings 11:9 NIV “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
Because Solomon had allowed his heart to be distracted and divided, God announces that he will “tear the kingdom away” from him. But God loved David so much that, God shows mercy to Solomon. Not for Solomon’s sake, but for David’s, who is no longer living. God additionally states that Solomon’s son will be given the kingdom, but that it will be torn out of his hand. Not because of the son’s actions, but because of Solomon’s actions. Once again, for David’s sake, God shows mercy and states that Solomon’s son will be granted one tribe. But because of Solomon, his son will have just that one tribe and not the entire kingdom.
King David’s heart knowledge trumped his head knowledge. He wrote in Psalm 51:10 NIV “Create in me a pure heart, O God,” In Psalm 18:1, he writes, “I love you, Lord, my strength.” He also wrote Psalm 73:25-26 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Unfortunately, King Solomon allowed his heart to be seduced and his love for God, his loyalty to God, and his longing for God became diluted and divided. And suffering and consequences came about.
What about us? Are we living our lives driven by our heart’s knowledge of Who God is, what He’s done, and what He continues to do? Are we looking for His hand, listening for His voice, calling out His name on a consistent basis? Are we using our heart knowledge of Him to desire more head knowledge of Him?
Here’s a great analogy of head knowledge vs. heart knowledge. “Jonathan Edwards from his sermon Divine and Supernatural Light has a great illustration to make this point using honey. He says, “your mind can know honey is sweet, people can tell you it’s sweet, you’ve read books about it, etc. but if you haven’t actually tasted it, you know with your head, but not with your heart. When you actually taste it, you experience it for yourself, you know it in a full way, and you can know it in your heart.” “When we apply something to our heart, it becomes very real for us at that point. It drives our minds, emotions, and affections towards whatever that thing or someone is.”[ii]
You may recall I started this lesson off by talking about healthy eating and how we all tend to backslide at times and eat something we know isn’t good for us. We give in to temptation and eat something that is unhealthy all because we anticipate how good it will taste. Let me remind you of Psalm 34:8 NKJV “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
I pray for myself that God would keep me on track with desiring to take in only healthy things, to find distasteful those things which distract me from Him. I’m asking God to give me an appetite for only those things which are pleasing to Him. And all the while, I’m also thanking God that when I do backslide, He allows me a fresh start. Not just on Mondays, but any day of the week, any hour of the day.