If you were to read today’s three chapters separately, you might have no idea that they occurred in sequence. In the blink of an eye, the actors, the trajectory, and even the character of the nation will change.
Solomon’s ascent continues in chapter 10, for when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, his house, furnishings, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her… And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore…
But when the vast wealth of Solomon himself is recounted at the end of the chapter, careful readers will note a misalignment with the expectations God laid down for Israel’s king in Deuteronomy 17. This intuition is confirmed explicitly in the opening words of chapter 11: Now King Solomon loved many foreign women… and when Solomon was old…his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God. This infidelity is demonstrated when he commits the abomination that his father, for all his failings, had never considered: he builds altars to foreign gods.
Note that the LORD’s anger is not with Solomon’s wives but with Solomon himself, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Because of Solomon’s unfaithfulness, the LORD declares that He would surely tear the kingdom from Solomon and give it to his servant. Only a single tribe would remain in the house of Solomon, for the sake of David My servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen. And the LORD sends a prophet to Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, to prepare the way.
After Solomon’s death this word is rapidly consummated. The political stimulus is the forced labor – which we first heard about in chapter 4 – that Solomon had drafted to complete his capital projects. This labor had exacted a heavy toll on the northern tribes, and when their leader, Jeroboam, returns from exile, Judah’s leadership over the tribes is again contested.
To Solomon’s son Rehoboam this might not have stirred much urgency; after all, Israel has weathered succession crises before. But this is different. When Israel declares, “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse,” and Rehoboam prepares to rally Judah and Benjamin to fight to restore the kingdom, the LORD stands between: “You shall not go up or fight against your relatives… for this thing is from Me.”
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Kings 10 through 12. Now let’s read it!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.