If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Kings 11, Philippians 2, Ezekiel 41, Psalms 92–93. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 1 Kings 11.
Yesterday’s passage from 1 Kings 10 seems to represent the apex of Solomon’s career as king. The queen of Sheba had heard about “the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord (10:1a). That last phrase is key because after she tested him with hard questions (10:1b-3), she saw everything there was to see about his kingdom (vv. 3-5). Her response was to praise God and give him glory for it all (v. 9). As I suggested yesterday, her praise for God seems to show that Solomon gave praise to God for it all. It was his humility, his faith in God, and his obedience that led to such an amazing golden era in Israel’s history.
All of that started to unravel in today’s reading from 1 Kings 11. Contrary to God’s commands (11:2), Solomon married women from every foreign nation around Israel in addition to his Egyptian wife (v. 1). And his marriages to them were not merely tokens binding a peace accord with him and these other countries; verse 2c says, “Solomon held fast to them in love.” Indeed, he must have really, really been enamored with women because verse 3a-b says, “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines….” At some point, Solomon’s harem became the idol in his life that displaced God for verse 3c-4 says, “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.” The symptom of his romantic idolatry was real idolatry as we see in verse 5, “He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites.” The implication I see in this passage was that his desire to please his wives led him to do what they wanted him to do, namely worship idols with them.
God was not passive about Solomon’s idolatry. Instead God promised that Solomon’s heir would lose the whole kingdom except for David’s tribe Judah (vv. 9-13). In addition to this promise, God raised up threats to Solomon’s kingdom from outside of it (vv. 14-25) and inside of it (vv. 26-40). Instead of finishing his reign in peace and prosperity, he left behind a disorderly, divided kingdom.
The lesson here, of course, is to be careful what you love. If you want to please anyone more than you want to please God, the temptations that follow that desire will be intense—too intense for most of us to resist. While God is gracious and merciful to forgive our sins, what he wants from us who know Christ is obedience from an undivided, loyal heart to him.
So, what is it or who is it that competes with God for your attention? Who do you want to please so much that disobeying God’s commands becomes an option or even a decision or habit? What pastime, or hobby, or ambition, or goal, or whatever captures your attention when your mind wanders? What do you daydream about? What habit are you developing that is disobedient to God’s word? Whatever it is, get rid of it! Remove it from your life as much as possible and, when you find yourself turning your attention to it, turn to God in prayer and ask him to remove that affection from your heart.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/calvarybiblechurch/. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.