1 Kings 9-11

1 Kings 9

1 So Solomon finished building the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do.

2 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had done before at Gibeon.

 

The first time was 1 Kings 3:5-15

 

3 The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever.

I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

4 “As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations,

5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever.

For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’

6 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods,

7 then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name.

I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations.

8 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads in amazement.

They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’

9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt,

and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’ ”

 

What are these commands and decrees? Let’s read Deut 17. As we read, try to note what the king is supposed to do or not do. And why.

 

Deuteronomy 17

14 You are about to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you.

When you take it over and settle there, you may think, ‘We should select a king to rule over us like the other nations around us.’

15 If this happens, be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses. You must appoint a fellow Israelite; he may not be a foreigner.

16 The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’

17 The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord.

And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.

18 “When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.

19 He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees.

20 This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens.

It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.

 

Q: What was the king supposed to do or not do? Why do you think that was?

 

1 Kings 9

10 It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time,

11 he gave twenty towns in the land of Galilee to King Hiram of Tyre. (Hiram had previously provided all the cedar and cypress timber and gold that Solomon had requested.)

 

Why are we giving away part of the promised land?

 

12 But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the towns Solomon had given him, he was not at all pleased with them.

13 “What kind of towns are these, my brother?” he asked. So Hiram called that area Cabul (which means “worthless”), as it is still known today.

14 Nevertheless, Hiram paid Solomon 9,000 pounds of gold.

 

So it wasn’t a gift. He was selling off parts of the Promised Land. To fund his lavish building projects.

 

15 This is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s Temple,

the royal palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer…

 

So he doesn’t stop with the temple and palace. Since he already has a system with building supplies and forced labor he just keeps it going and redirects the building to other parts of Israel.

 

26 King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber, a port near Elath in the land of Edom, along the shore of the Red Sea.

27 Hiram sent experienced crews of sailors to sail the ships with Solomon’s men.

28 They sailed to Ophir and brought back to Solomon some sixteen tons of gold.

 

What’s that worth? On Feb 1 2016, with gold selling for $1,127.38 per ounce, that’s $526,116,672.

1 Kings 10

1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.

2 She arrived in Jerusalem with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels.

When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind.

3 Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.

4 When the queen of Sheba realized how very wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built,

5 she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord.

6 She exclaimed to the king, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true!

7 I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told.

8 How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom!

9 Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel.

Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”

 

That’s a lot of praise. I don’t think anyone needs to hear this about themselves. It seems like that would go to your head. And speaking of things that would go to your head…

 

10 Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

 

Setting spice records. New records every year for luxury. You can see that 1 Kings is being written in such a way that on the one hand it looks like it’s admiring Solomon, but you can see the undercurrent of biting criticism. Especially if you’ve read God’s instructions to the king in Deuteronomy 17.

 

14 Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold.

15 This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders, all the kings of Arabia, and the governors of the land.

 

1 Kings 9-11 - Solomon's Throne

19 The throne had six steps and a rounded back. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne.

20 There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!

Here’s an artist’s rendition from my old Picture Bible. As you can see, you didn’t just walk up to the throne. You ascended.

21 All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!

 

This is the principle known as diminishing returns. When you have a lot of stuff, everything that used to be valuable begins to lose its value. And you need more and more to get the same effect.

 

22 The king had a fleet of trading ships that sailed with Hiram’s fleet.

Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

 

Peacocks? Yeah, peacocks. What were those for? You don’t really eat peacocks, but I guess they do look nice. And if you can get some peacocks, why not? You’ve gotta find some way to spend all of that money.

 

23 So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth.

24 People from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him.

25 Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.

 

At this point the savvy bibilical reader might recall Deut. 17:17 – “The king… must not accumulate large amounts of wealth”

 

26 Solomon built up a huge force of chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities and some near him in Jerusalem.

 

At this point the savvy bibilical reader might recall Deut. 17:16 – “The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself…”

 

27 The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah.

1 Kings 11

1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.

2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway.

He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

 

At this point the savvy bibilical reader might recall Deut. 17:17 – The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord.

Some of these wives would have been purely political, and thus never consummated. But it’s hard to explain the concubines in those terms.

 

4 In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites.

1 Kings 9-11 - Moloch

Explain Moloch worship

Notice how his marriage choices were so spiritually significant.

I think it’s so sad to read Solomon’s earlier wisdom on sex and marriage, and then to see how he ended up. He was married and had a kid before he ever became king. But then he started playing the game and drifter further and further away from not only the word, but even his own teaching. Doing things he never dreamed he would do.

 

6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.

7 On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites.

 

As far as we can tell Chemosh and Molech these were basically the same idea with different names in Ammon and Moab.

 

8 Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.

9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command.

11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants.

12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son.

13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

 

If we were to graph Solomon’s decline, what would it look like? Some people expect it to look something like this:

1 Kings 9-11 - Solomon Graph 1

Where he’s doing great and he makes a bad decision and it’s full of problems from that point forward, like what happened with David and Bathsheba.

 But Solomon’s spiritual decline really looked more like this:

1 Kings 9-11 - Solomon Graph 2

All along the way there were good things happening. Building the temple. The thing with the Queen of Sheba. I’m sure that many people came to see him and worshipped the God of Israel. I wonder if those good things kept him from taking his sin seriously.

Remember the times God had warned him along the way – both through his Word and through direct visits to Solomon? Some people see God’s patience and think it means he’s not going to act. They mistake it for senility or weakness. But God’s patience is one of his greatest strengths. But his love doesn’t mean he won’t ever act or bring consequences.

 

And we see negative consequences in this story.

  • There are the obvious negative conequences in his family’s life. Taking away most of the kingdom from his line.
  • But there are also the very real consequences of the agony of regret and addiction (Read and discuss the Ecclesiastes passage…)

 

Ecclesiastes 2

1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.

2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”

3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness…

4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.

5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees…

7 I bought servants, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.

8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces.

I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!

9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.

10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure…

11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

 

Q: What sticks out to you about Solomon’s assessment of this time in his life?

 

Ecclesiastes 5

10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!

11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! …

15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.

 

[Loneliness. “I was a tourist attraction”]

 

16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

 

Application

1. Heed God’s warnings

 

Deut. 29:19 – Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin!

 

2. Allow God to continually correct your perspective

 

Coasting. Many things we could bank on instead of letting God correct us.

-upbringing

-past successes

-giftedness

 

Q: How can we become the type of people who readily respond to God’s correction and direction?

 

3. Understand God’s grace

 

Q: Where do we see God’s grace in this story?

  • Exceedingly patient
  • Kept His promises
  • Brought Solomon to his senses and welcomed him back.
    • GOSPEL and appeal to Christians who aren’t walking with God.

 

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