1 Kings 11


For ten chapters we’ve been reading about Solomon’s reign. In chapter 1 we read of how David gave instructions for Solomon to be crowned king in his place. And in chapter 2 we had David’s charge to Solomon and we read how David instructed the new king to be strong and to walk in God’s ways. And we also read about the things Solomon did to establish his kingdom and to make it firm. In chapter 3 we read how the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered to give him whatever he wanted. And Solomon asked for wisdom. He wanted wisdom so that he could know how to govern God’s people and how to make good and right decisions. And the Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request and granted him, not only wisdom, but riches and honour as well.

Chapter 4 made clear how the Lord blessed his people during the time of Solomon’s reign. The people had become as numerous as the sand on the seashore; and they ate and drank and were happy; and each man sat under his own vine and fig tree, which is a picture of contentment and peace. Things were going well for Israel during the time of Solomon’s reign.

And then in chapters 5 and 6 we read about how Solomon built a temple for the Lord and a palace for himself. And the temple was a spectacular building, because the interior of the building was lined with gold. And once the temple was finished, it was time for Solomon to bring the ark of the Lord into the temple. And that’s what chapter 8 was about. And once the ark was in place, the glory-cloud of the Lord filled the temple to signify that God had come to live in the temple, which Solomon had built to be God’s dwelling place.

In the first part of chapter 9 the Lord once again appeared to Solomon. And this time the Lord warned Solomon about what could go wrong. What could go wrong? They could turn away from the Lord. They could disregard his word. They could go after other gods. And if they did that, then God will cut off Israel from the land and send them away into exile. So, for now, everything was going well in Israel. God had blessed them and made Israel a prosperous and peaceful place. But Solomon and the people had to be careful not to turn away from the Lord.

In the rest of chapter 9 we read about some of Solomon’s other activities. Some of the things he did caused us to raise an eyebrow or two because they don’t seem quite right. Nevertheless, it also made clear Solomon’s devotion to the Lord at that time and the sacrifices he offered to the Lord in worship.

And then, chapter 10 was about how God had blessed Solomon and made him great and wise and wealthy. The Queen of Sheba came to see Solomon and she was overwhelmed by his wisdom and his wealth. ‘How happy your men must be!’ she said. How happy they must be to have you as their king and to be able to stand before you and hear your wisdom. God had made Solomon great. He was the king of kings at that time. There was no one else like him. He was greater in riches and wisdom that all the other kings of the earth. And the whole world sought audience with him to hear the wisdom which God had put in his heart.

And as we’ve read about Solomon’s reign, we’ve seen how he foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the king of kings forever. And how happy the Lord’s people are, because he blesses us with one spiritual blessing after another; and he promises his people everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom where we will enjoy perfect peace and rest and fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. How happy Solomon’s men were to stand before him. And how happy we will be to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ forever and forever in the life to come.

But today we come to chapter 11 which recounts the end of Solomon’s life. And it doesn’t end well, does it? It doesn’t end well. Verses 1 to 13 can be summed up by what we read in verse 9 where it says that the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord. And then verses 14 to 40 can be summed up by verse 14 where it says that the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary. In fact, the Lord raised up, not one and not two, but three adversaries against Solomon. And so, it doesn’t end well for Solomon. His heart turned away from the Lord and the Lord raised up adversaries against him.

Verses 1 to 13

And so, turn with me now to verses 1 to 13. And we can compare what we read in verse 1 with what we read about Solomon in verse 3 of chapter 3. Back in chapter 3 the NIV says Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David. However, more literally it says that Solomon loved the Lord. So, back in chapter 3, the narrator tells us that Solomon loved the Lord. Here now, in chapter 11, the narrator tells us that Solomon loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter.

We first heard about Pharaoh’s daughter in chapter 3 and perhaps she was the first foreign woman he married. And while some commentators complain and say that Solomon should not have married Pharaoh’s daughter, there’s no indication in the Bible that God forbade marriage with an Egyptian. But that’s not the case when it comes to these other foreign women. After telling us that Solomon’s other foreign wives were Moabites and Ammonites and Edomites and Sidonians and Hittites, our narrator is very clear that the Lord had told his people that they should not intermarry with them. Why not? Because those foreign women will surely turn your hearts after other gods.

The problem was not so much that there were foreigners. The problem was that they worshipped other gods. They were pagans. Instead of worshipping the Lord, they worshipped idols and false gods. And the Lord had warned his people that if his people marry them, his people will be led astray.

And look at the end of verse 2. Even though the Lord had commanded his people not to marry these foreign women, nevertheless Solomon held fast to them in love. Instead of holding fast to the Lord, he held fast to them. Instead of clinging to God, he clung to his wives.

And the narrator tells us that Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. The commentators suggest that many of these marriages may have been arranged for political reasons, because one way to build closer ties with neighbouring nations was to marry the daughter of a neighbouring king. But whether these were political marriages or not, it’s a massive amount of wives, isn’t it? How could he possibly keep track of them all?

But the number of wives doesn’t concern our narrator as much as the sad fact that they led Solomon astray. That’s what he tells us at the end of verse 3. And he tells us in verse 4 that as Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods and his heart was no longer fully devoted to the Lord his God. No doubt he continued to worship God, but he no longer worshipped the Lord exclusively. When a couple are married in church, they promise to forsake all others: the woman promises to forsake all other men; and the man promises to forsake all other women. They promise to be devoted to one another only. And Solomon was meant to be devoted to the Lord only. But instead of forsaking all other gods, he went after them and he worshipped them.

And we’re told in verse 5 that he followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. And by worshipping these false gods, Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord. No doubt his wives were pleased with him. And perhaps the other nations were pleased by the way Solomon had embraced their beliefs. But it was evil in the sight of God.

And we’re told that he did not follow the Lord completely as David his father had done. David, of course, was a sinner. And he had sinned terribly with regard to Bathsheba and Uriah, her husband. But David had always worshipped the Lord and he never turned away from the Lord to worship idols. But that’s what Solomon had done. And so, he built a high place for Chemosh, the god of Moab, and for Molech, the god of the Ammonites. And we’re told he did the same for all his foreign wives and offered sacrifices to them. Can you imagine what it must have been like? This was the Promised Land, which God had graciously given to his people. And it was a foretaste of heaven and it foreshadowed how all of God’s people will one day live in the Promised Land of Eternal Life where we will worship the Lord forever. The land pointed forward to the new creation. But all throughout the land of Israel, there were now these high places and altars and statutes devoted to pagan gods and idols. It was shameful. And the wisest man who had ever lived became so very foolish, because he disobeyed the Lord by marrying these unbelieving women; and they led his heart astray.

And so, the Lord became angry with Solomon. Do you see that in verse 9? And the Lord said to Solomon that since this is his attitude and since you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, then I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. I wonder does the word ‘tear’ ring a bell in your memory? Back in 1 Samuel 15, God sent Samuel to rebuke Saul for his disobedience. And as Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed Samuel’s robe and it tore. And Samuel turned to Saul and said that God has torn the kingdom from Saul and given it to one of Saul’s neighbours. And sure enough, God took the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David. And now, here’s the Lord, saying to Solomon that he’s going to tear the kingdom from Solomon and give it to one of his servants.

Application 1

Before we move on to see what happened next, let me remind our young people that you should only marry in the Lord. In other words, you should only marry another believer. And since that’s the case, then our young people should only go out with and date other believers. And I say this, because look what happened to Solomon. He was the wisest man in the world. People from all over the world came to see him and to talk to him because they wanted to learn from his wisdom. And yet, how foolish he was to marry these foreign women, because they led his heart astray. That is, they led him astray. This man, who once loved the Lord, turned away from the Lord and instead of worshipping the Lord, he began to worship these false gods and idols, which are not real and which cannot do anything unlike the Lord who made all things and who had made Solomon great.

And perhaps someone is thinking that you don’t want to be single. You don’t want to be lonely. And perhaps you’re thinking this person, who isn’t a believer, makes me happy. And what’s wrong with that?

But do you remember what the Lord Jesus said? What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul? And so, what good will it be for a man if he gains a girlfriend or a wife, yet loses his soul? And what good it will be for a woman if she gains a boyfriend or a husband yet loses her soul? And that’s what can happen if someone leads you away from the only Saviour of the world, because if you turn away from Christ, then you have turned away from the only one who is able to save you from your sin and misery in this life and in the life to come. And so, we should learn from Solomon’s foolish mistake and we should make sure that we only marry in the Lord.

And if you’re already married to an unbeliever, what should you do? Well, Paul deals with this in 1 Corinthians 7 where he makes clear that the marriage bond is sacred and therefore it should never be broken even if your spouse does not believe. But you will need to seek God’s help so that you will not turn away from the Lord, but will hold fast to him always.

Application 2

But lest the young people think I’m getting at them, let me also point out when it was that Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord. Look at verse 4. It happened when he grew old.

The Devil comes at us with his wicked schemes throughout our life on earth. And we mustn’t think that he’ll ever ease up on us and he’ll have mercy on us when we’re older. It’s not as if he thinks to himself: ‘There’s that man who is retired. There’s that woman who is retired. I’ve given them a hard time when they were younger, but now I’ll give them a break.’ No, he doesn’t think like that. He continues to tempt us right up until the day we die. And he comes at us which his wicked schemes throughout our life. And he’s always looking for the chance to turn us away from the Lord. And so, even into our old age, we have to watch out and be vigilant and we need to take care lest our devotion to the Lord wanes and we’re tempted to turn away from him just as Solomon did.

And the way to remain faithful right to the end is to continue to come along to church on Sundays, because God uses what we do here on Sundays to build up our faith and to enlarge our love and to keep us from falling. When we come here, we’re reminded of God’s law and the good things we’re to do and the wicked things we’re to avoid. And when we come here, we’re reminded of God’s love and of his willingness to forgive us our sin and shortcomings for the sake of Christ our Saviour. And when we come here, we’re reminded of the great hope we have in Christ of eternal life in God’s presence, where there is perfect peace and rest. And so, we’re reminded of why we should perserve and not turn away from the Lord as Solomon did as he grew old.

Verses 14 to 40

Let’s move on now to verses 14 to 40. Back in verse 9 we read that God was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord. And now we read that the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary called Hadad the Edomite. And our narrator tells us his origin story which goes back to the time of David and Joab. After having to flee for his life from his own country, Hadad grew up in Egypt and in the household of the Pharaoh. After he learned of David’s death, he wanted to return to his own country. The Pharaoh tried to dissuade him, but he insisted. Our narrator doesn’t tell us what he did to oppose Solomon, but if you glance down to verse 25 you’ll see that it says that he caused trouble for Solomon.

And Hadad was not the only adversary whom the Lod raised up against Solomon. In verse 23 we’re told that he also raised up Rezon son of Eliada. This man gathered a band of men around him and, according to verse 25, he was Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived.

And there was a third adversary and we read about him in verses 26 to 40. His name was Jeroboam, son of Nebat. His backstory is that he was one of Solomon’s officials and Solomon had put him in charge of the whole labour force of the house of Joseph.

However, one day he met a prophet named Ahijah, who was wearing a new cloak. The prophet took the cloak and tore it into pieces. He told Jeroboam to take ten pieces for himself and he explained that the Lord was going to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hand and give ten of the tribes of Israel to Jeroboam, but one tribe will remain in Solomon’s hand. So, ten tribes will go to Jeroboam and one to Solomon. Even if you’re not good at maths, you’ll know that ten plus one equals eleven and not twelve. So, what will happen to the twelfth tribe? It’s not entirely clear, but it’s likely that the prophet isn’t being exact and what he means is that the large majority of Israel will be given to Jeroboam and he will rule over them in the north; and a tiny minority will remain in Solomon’s hand and he and his descendants will continue to rule in the south of the land.

And in case Jeroboam wondered why God was willing to do this, the prophet explains in verse 33 that he will do it because the people have forsaken him and gone after other gods. In other words, the people of Israel have followed the example of Solomon and turned away from the Lord.

And look now at verse 37 where the prophets says that Jeroboam will rule over all that his heart desires and he will be king over Israel. And the Lord promised him that if he does what God commands and walks in his ways and does what is right in God’s eyes, as David did, then God will be with him and will build him a dynasty so that kings will come from him.

And so, here’s another adversary which the Lord raised up against Solomon. We don’t exactly what he did at this time to oppose Solomon, but perhaps this prophecy encouraged Jeroboam to rebel against Solomon and to make life difficult for him. In any case, it’s clear from verse 40 that Solomon regarded Jeroboam as a threat and he tried to kill Jeroboam.


The Lord raised up these three adversaries, because Solomon and the people had turned away from the Lord. While Israel was once a happy land and a place of rest where there was no adversary or disaster, those days had come to an end. And things were going to become worse after Solomon’s death, because the kingdom would then be divided and most of it would be torn from David’s descendants. And God sent this trouble on them, because Solomon and his people had turned from the Lord.

But in the midst of this trouble, we see God’s mercy. Take a look at verse 39 where the Lord said that he will humble David’s descendants because of this. That is to say, because Solomon and the people turned from the Lord, he will humble them, by bringing this trouble on them. The glory days will depart from Israel and the days of peace and prosperity will come to an end when the kingdom is divided. However, then he adds at the end of verse 39 the important words, ‘but not for ever.’ He will humble them by bringing trouble on them, but not for ever.

And those words mean that there would be better days to come and the glory will return. And the better days arrived when God sent his Only-Begotten Son into the world as one of us and as a king descended from David. And unlike Solomon, whose heart turned away from God, the Lord Jesus remained obedient to God throughout his life here on earth. And in obedience to God, he offered up himself as the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice to pay for our sins and for all that we have done wrong. He took the blame for us so that all who believe in him receive forgiveness and peace with God and the hope of eternal life in the presence of God.

And in the Promised Land of Eternal Life, there will be no adversaries to cause us trouble. There will be no-one and nothing to disturb our peace. It will be a happy land, a place of rest where there is no adversary or disaster. And there will be no one who will lead us astray as there was in Solomon’s kingdom. In fact, we ourselves will be made perfect so that our hearts will be undivided and filled with love and zeal for the Lord our God so that we will never be tempted to turn from him as Solomon was.

And that eternal kingdom will never be divided, because all of God’s people will be united together under Christ our King forever.

And the way into that forever happy land has been opened to us by Christ our King who died to bring us to God. And so, all who trust in him can rejoice, because he is the King of kings and Lord of lords and he promises his people eternal peace and rest in his everlasting kingdom.