Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 10-13
With the Temple built and his palace and homes finished, Solomon became an international sensation in 1 Kings 10 when we read, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions” (10:1). Solomon’s wisdom, the wealth and splendor of his kingdom, and God’s blessings became known far and wide.
There are many fables and legends that surround the visit of the Queen of Sheba; however, this is a devotional commentary and we will consider the only reputable source we have…the Word of God (1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).
The kingdom of Sheba is believed to have been in the southern end of the Arabian peninsula known today as Yemen. The Queen had received news of the remarkable wisdom of Solomon and the wonders of his kingdom and set upon a journey from her kingdom in the south to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel in the north. Rather than travel via ship on the Red Sea, the scriptures indicate she came with a “very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (10:2a).
The purpose of the queen’s visit is summed up in this, “she communed with him of all that was in her heart” (10:2b). Whatever questions she proposed to Solomon, he was able to answer (10:3). She was amazed at the beauty of all he had built (10:4), the splendor of the meals served in his palace, his boundless wisdom, the rich raiment worn by his servants (10:5) and their privilege to serve a king of such wisdom (10:6-8). 1 Kings 10:10-13 records the wealth the queen bestowed on Solomon as well as the gifts he bequeathed to her out of his royal treasury.
The lavish wealth of the king’s palace, the tributes paid to him by other nations, his shields of gold, his throne made of ivory and overlaid with gold (10:18-20), gold vessels and exotic animals, chariots and champion horses are all detailed (10:21-29).
The grandeur of Solomon’s kingdom is tarnished when we read in 1 Kings 11, “Solomon loved many strange women” (11:1). Disregarding the LORD’s admonition concerning the danger of wives who worship “after their gods” (11:2), Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart” (11:3).
The king’s sins provoked God’s wrath (11:9) and his family and nation suffered for his apostasy (11:10-13). Israel became a troubled nation with enemies without (i.e. Pharaoh and Egypt – 11:14-25) and enemies within (i.e. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valour” who Solomon recognized too late as a threat to his kingdom – 11:26-40). Jeroboam fled Israel into Egypt where he stayed until Solomon died and “Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead” (11:40-43).
Learning that Solomon was dead (12:1-2), Jeroboam returned to Israel and petitioned king Rehoboam on behalf of the tribes of Israel that the heavy burden of taxation and servitude placed upon the people by Solomon’s ambitious construction projects be lightened (12:3-4). Rehoboam, though having the advantage of his father Solomon’s wise men as his counselors (12:6-7), foolishly dismissed them and heeded the advice of his peers who stoked his pride and ambition (12:8-11) setting in motion a rebellion that divided the kingdom (12:12-33).
1 Kings 13 gives the history of a divided Israel, the ten tribes of the north rebelling against Rehoboam and ceding from his reign as king. The rebellious tribes followed Jeroboam into idolatry and all manner of sin and wickedness (13:1-34).
I invite you to consider in closing the great and tragic end of Solomon’s reign. The wisest man who ever lived, when he was old, disobeyed the LORD. “His heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4) and he “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (11:6). Notice the statement concerning Solomon in 1 Kings 11:4, “it came to pass, when Solomon was old”.
Old enough to know better! Old enough to not play a fool! Old enough to understand the consequences of sin, wicked choices on himself and his family.
Sadly, there is a great possibility someone reading this devotional commentary is doing the same. Some might call it a “mid-life crisis”. Call it what you will; however, if you fail to abide in God’s Word, saturate your heart with spiritual principles, and sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word; it may one day be said of you, “when he was old…his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4).
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith