“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.”
- 1 Kings 11:4
There was a certain military leader in the Revolutionary War who impressed General Washington so much that he nicknamed him the “fighting general.” George Washington’s fighting general successfully attacked and captured
from the British in 1775. In
1776, this general led a successful campaign to keep the British from invading
the colonies through the Fort Ticonderoga Lake Champlain
region. And his greatest victory was at Saratoga
in 1777, which led to the French coming into the war as ’s most important allies. America
What was this hero’s name? Benedict Arnold. Yes, Benedict Arnold was a brilliant general during the early years of the Revolutionary War, but on September 25, 1780, he defected to the British side. And ever since that day Benedict Arnold’s name has been synonymous with being a traitor. Although Benedict Arnold did some marvelous things for our country, they will always be overshadowed by his treachery. Sadly, Benedict Arnold ended his military career very, very poorly. Simply put: He didn’t finish well.
The same could be said of King Solomon. The first ten chapters of 1 Kings are, for the most part, very encouraging. Solomon was a man blessed by God with incredible wisdom and wealth. He was a gifted leader, an impressive orator, and—most importantly—a faithful follower of God. But as he came down the homestretch of his life, he failed miserably. Although he had the IQ of two Einsteins, the riches of four Donald Trumps and the wisdom of ten Zig Ziglars, 1 Kings 11 reveals that Solomon finished his life very poorly. In the words of Bible commentator Dale Ralph Davis: “Chapter 11 is the dull thud after the high hopes of chapters 1-10.”
Instead of ending on a high note, Solomon’s life ended with a “dull thud.” And the biggest reason for this was his divided loyalty. You see, Solomon’s forty-year reign began and ended with love. Unfortunately, during those forty years his love shifted. At the start of his reign we read these encouraging words: “Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David” (1 Kings 3:3).
Yet by the time we get to the end of Solomon’s reign, we read that Solomon “loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods’” (1 Kings 11:1-2). We are then told in verse 3 that Solomon had 700 foreign wives in addition to his 300 concubines, and they pulled his heart away from the Lord and toward their pagan gods.
Solomon still loved God with part of his heart. But tragically, he divvied up the rest of his heart into 700 pieces that he distributed among his idol-worshiping wives. According to Jesus, the greatest command in the Old Testament is: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Without a doubt, as time passed Solomon drifted from his first love. He no longer loved God with “all” his heart, “all” his soul, “all” his mind or “all” his strength.
In our melting pot culture, some might ask, “What’s the big deal?” Well, consider this. We read in 1 Kings 11 that on a hill east of
Jerusalem (most likely the Mount of
Olives) Solomon set up worship centers to Ashtoreth, Molech and
Chemosh. Ashtoreth worship traditionally involved orgies with male and female
prostitutes. Molech worship involved child sacrifice, and Chemosh worship also
involved forms of human sacrifice. Although Solomon probably didn’t participate
in these more heinous “worship” activities, they were an integral part of the
religion back in his wives’ homeland. And regardless of what labels we affix to
ritual prostitution and child sacrifice, they are, at their heart, demonic.
On the very same hill east of Jerusalem where Jesus would one day sweat drops of blood and pray, “Not my will but yours be done,” Solomon was building shrines to bloodthirsty demons. On the same hill where Jesus would receive a kiss of betrayal from one of his friends, King Solomon himself was betraying his first love. On the same hill where Jesus would be bound and led away to sacrifice his own life for you and me, Solomon was worshiping murderous demons who required parents to sacrifice their own innocent children in a sacrificial fire. Was Solomon’s idol worship a big deal? You better believe it was!
And even though God rebuked Solomon and warned him that judgment was coming, Solomon didn’t respond with humility, sorrow or repentance. There is no indication that Solomon ever repented from his idol worship or tore down the pagan altars. He finished his life surrounded by hundreds of beautiful women, untold riches and every type of pleasure that a person could ever desire. But he died a shell of man—empty, hopeless and full of regret. Like Benedict Arnold, although he was a man of great potential who started his adult years so well, Solomon finished his life so poorly. When our loved ones look back on our final years here on earth, will they say the same of you and me? I hope not. Let’s finish well!
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.fccvv.com and join us for our worship service Sundays at 10 a.m.