Have you ever heard the old saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely?” The events in 1 Kings 11:1-13 are a good example of the fact that this saying is true.
Solomon was about 60 years old by this time. Among kings in the ancient Near East, taking foreign wives often produced political alliances: for Israel, it led to the worship of other gods-a double disobedience. At first, Solomon’s sin was immorality and sensuality, but eventually it became gross idolatry that divided his heart. A love of the world and a ceaseless round of pleasure corrupted his heart and produced (at least for a little while) a state of mental darkness.
Some scholars regard Solomon as merely humoring his wives in the practice of their superstition. They also argue that in being present during their respective religious rites, Solomon was only paying an outward homage. Solomon mistakenly assumed that allowing idolatry to exist alongside the worship of God was a commendable form of neutrality. In reality, his actions were sins in God’s eyes. This reminds us of the fact that sin’s victory in our lives most often occurs not by sudden satanic assaults but by slow, moral erosion.
It was bad enough that Solomon took so many wives and concubines and strained the finances of his court. It was bad enough that they were foreigners, and this led to suspicions among the Israelites. What made the situation intolerable was that Solomon took the women from the nations God specifically warned him to avoid. The Scriptures specifically told the Israelites not to marry Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites, but Solomon chose his harem from these very nations.
Even God’s blessing and wisdom cannot compensate for a divided heart. Solomon spoke with the God of Israel in person twice and was singled out for a special blessing. Yet he left a son who was more foolish than he was, and Solomon died knowing the great kingdom God had given him from his father would soon be torn asunder.
Solomon was favoured with gifts from heaven, but he grossly abused them. God pronounced a terrible judgment on Solomon’s household, but not on Solomon himself. God decided to spare a part of Solomon’s kingdom so that He could keep the divine promise He made to King David. God rose up an adversary to plague Solomon. God was not punishing Solomon. God wanted the adversary to turn Solomon’s heart back to God. When we suffer adversity we should examine ourselves to see if there is sin in our lives. That is not always true, but it is something to which we must be sensitive.
Similar situations often happen today. Many pastors in their later years have fallen away from earlier patterns of exemplary ministry. Some were manipulated by younger pastors who use their reputations to support their own causes-causes that those senior ministers opposed when they were younger. Others have given in to inappropriate popular trends that seem to be succeeding in desperate attempts to rescue a ministry that they believe is declining. Others in their senior years become obsessed with establishing some sort of earthly immortality and building monuments in hopes of perpetuating their names.
Solomon’s defiance was not a sudden thing. He planted some seeds early in life and harvested them later in life. The first seeds were seeds of compromise. He made an alliance with Pharaoh and married Pharaoh’s daughter. As a result of that compromise, he began to make concessions in his spiritual walk.
Later, he planted seeds of extravagance. He spent lavishly. He lived lavishly. There were no limits in his budget. He was able to buy at will, build whatever he desired and live wherever and however he wished. Self-control and restraint were not in his vocabulary.
He also planted seeds of unaccountability. Solomon was never willing to be accountable-not to any of his counsellors, not to any of the prophets, not to any of his wives. He never asked for straight answers or listened to sound advice. He was close-minded. He even ignored what God was telling him.
He also planted seeds of idolatry. When harvested, Solomon’s idolatry led to lust and open defiance.
Healthy compromise occurs when we can “give in” without sacrificing our values and beliefs. A different kind of compromise leads us to abandon sound ideas or standards, leaving us morally and spiritually bankrupt. We live in a world full of temptations that urges us to compromise our godly values. When we choose to compromise, we pay a price, even though it may not seem immediately apparent to us or to other people. Satan wants us to believe the lie that no one gets hurt when we compromise our core values, but that lie has cost people their jobs and ministries, children their innocence, and at times it has cost people their very lives.
What happened to Solomon is an example of how God stands ready to deal with His people. We must remember that He is still jealous for our hearts. When we walk against His way, He deals with us.
God never blesses us so we can hoard His gifts. He blesses us so we can share them. Don’t allow spiritual erosion to begin in your life. It’s easier to avoid it altogether than it is to stop it once it has begun. Has God put his finger on something in your lives? Perhaps you’ve crossed the line and are no longer flirting with compromise but have jumped headlong into it. Satan is cunning and powerful. If he can get you to give up what is important to you, he can send you down a dark road that will cost you dearly. Don’t fall for it. Don’t give in. Don’t compromise what you shouldn’t. Trust God and leave the consequences to Him.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 457)
- A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
- Dilday, R. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol 9: 1,2 Kings (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1987; pp. 120-125)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New Kings James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Dr. Ed Young, “Don’t Allow Spiritual Erosion in Your Life.” Retrieved form email@example.com
- Charles R. Swindoll, “Defiance: A Biblical Warning.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Charles R. Swindoll, “God’s Attitude Toward Defiance.” Retrieved from email@example.com