1 Kings 11:1-13.

Turning Away from God

         April 6, 2003                       © 2003, J.W. Carter
     www.biblicaltheology.com            Scripture quotes from KJV

Turning away from God has devastating consequences.  Some people make choices that cause them to self-destruct. This lesson deals with the temptations that cause God's people to self-destruct. There is a pattern that takes place: A person starts out with great promise. He or she begins to meet goals and to enjoy public acclaim. Though goals remain, the person starts to coast. The individual takes success for granted, then personal problems arise. Wealth and fame are not enough. A talented life is wrecked and wasted.

Examples: Sports... A super athlete joined the professional ranks, receiving huge sums of money. Fame and fortune seemed assured. But he could not conquer the attendant temptations. He failed drug tests repeatedly, and the man who's name was a household word is now history. Another, considered the greatest who ever played the game contracts AIDS from relationships with the women who follow the professionals. He bragged that he has had relationships with hundreds of different women. He is also out of the sport, his career eclipsed by others.

Politics... A man was at the pinnacle of political office. He became careless about ethical standards. Suddenly the dream was over and his legacy is one of disgrace instead of honor.

Entertainment... Years of discipline and hard work finally paid off. Pop charts listed her works at the top. But fame and fortune brought temptations that she could not withstand. A loose life-style permitted unlimited alcohol, illicit drugs, and gross immorality. She died at the peak of her fame.

Religion... People esteemed a churchman for his ability to proclaim the gospel. He had fame and fortune. But he lowered his defenses and fell victim to the evils he denounced. Another life and testimony that had promised success was wrecked. 

Youth... There is never any part of the society under as much pressure to self-destruct as youth. This is a time when life's goals are not firmly established. Nor is the discipline to reach those goals. This comes at the same time that temptations are coming from every direction. Most suicides take place among youth. The greatest users of drugs are youth. The trend has changed, and as adult use of tobacco and liquor are diminishing, use of these products by youth are on the rise... to the point that more youth smoke than adults.

1 Kings 11:1.

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 

We see this pattern of destruction in the life of Solomon, one who possessed such great wisdom.  He had a great beginning, perhaps the most blessed of any man in history. Then he began to slide. His commitment to God eroded, other interests were taking priority.  His success at building the temple and his palaces developed into an obsession of building as he expended all of his resources in rebuilding the cities of Judah and Israel.  He was also consumed by his developing relationships with the neighboring countries, trading tribute and accepting women as peace offerings.  Solomon was so distracted by the activities of his routine that he began to turn away from God. From that point it was all down hill. We can learn from Solomon's mistakes.

Solomon succeeded in leading a unified nation in peace.  Initially, he demonstrated a sincere desire to be obedient to God.  Solomon should have passed to his son a united kingdom; one of prosperity and peace. Instead, the kingdom was fragmented, and would soon be divided. Solomon's personal failure resulted directly in these significant events.

1 Kings 11:2-3. 

Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 

Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Much of the reason behind this is based on his position and the current culture. The 700 wives were of royal birth; daughters of neighboring gentile tribal leaders and kings. The concubines would be those who were not of the royal families. These were given to Solomon by the neighboring tribes and kingdoms as "peace children". The word "strange" as it refers to them implies that they were not Hebrews.

The daughter of the pharaoh was his favorite wife. One of the five major buildings in the palace complex was the palace of the pharaoh's daughter. Reference is made to her many times in 1 Kings. Though Solomon received her well, the Hebrews did not. Why? (1) A man of Solomon's state should take a Hebrew wife. (2) Polygamy on this scale was a pagan practice, not one practiced under the law. There was a backlash of resentment against the pharaoh's daughter (3:1).  Exodus 34:15-16, and Deuteronomy 7:3-4 sounded a warning against intermarriage with people of the land.

Exo 34:15-16. Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 

Deu. 7:3-4. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 

Literally, Solomon had not broken the commands. How had he circumvented them? These women were not literally of the land of Canaan, but from outside. However, what was the purpose of these commands?  God's intent was to keep Israel from following other Gods, hence there is no distinction between the people of Canaan and those outside if its borders.  This is an example of rationalization that serves to defend literal interpretation of right and wrong to the advantage of the rationalizer, and by so doing, ignoring its purpose and principle. This is a common and dangerous philosophy. Solomon's marriage to these women was wrong. Once it started, it snowballed. If the neighboring kings know that Solomon expects them to provide him with a female, they will do so whether they want to or not. Some kings may have been giving to Solomon an only daughter whom they loved, fully knowing that this child would never see a life outside of a harem.  Solomon's sin escalated to the point that the neighboring leaders were required to give him a daughter. What does this say about what Solomon had become?

What was the fundamental problem of intermarriage outside the faith?  It challenges loyalty to the faith and forces a rationalized acceptance of the tenets of those outside of it. How does this relate to our current society and Christian culture? 

2 Cor 6:14-17. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 

What does 1. Kings 11:3 say about the impact of such close relationships with people of other faiths?  Developing close relationships is a natural and important part of the socialization of all people.  It is good that men and women come together in marriage.  However, such a relationship is so close that the common bond between them necessitates acceptance of the full nature of each member of the union.  When a Christian marries a non-Christian, there is a distinct difference in their world view that no bridge other than faith in God can connect.  Either the worldly perspective of the non-Christian will influence the Christian to the point of its acceptance, or conflict in the union will erupt.  The consequences of such a union are grave, and it is rare that such a union lasts long unless one of the two in the union changes to the world view of the other.  Either the lost partner will turn to God, or the saved partner will turn away from God.

1 Kings 11:4. 

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 

What was the impact of the influence these women had on him?  Solomon had shown the tendency to go in his own direction when he was engaged in the immense building projects of the second decade of his kingship.  Did he think that his wisdom was so great that he no longer needed to seek God's direction in his life.  It is evident that once the temple was built, he no longer sought God's direction, but continued boldly in his own.  Perhaps he sincerely felt that as the King he was doing all of these good things for Israel, as he built the nation and kept the peace, that he was already in the center of God's will for his life.   If so, he was sincerely wrong.  As he entered the third decade of his kingship, he frequented his harem and because of the close relationship he had with them, not only tolerated their pagan worship as he had done in previous years, but started to practice it. 

1 Kings 11:5-8. 

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

A researcher at UNCC recently published the results of a study of shooting victims in Charlotte. The study revealed that 50% of all victims had a criminal record. Of those remaining, 95% had a lifestyle that included regular violence, crime, or drugs. The summary of the research stated that a person is more likely to be a shooting victim if he lives a violent lifestyle. Do we need research to tell us this  What is a lifestyle? It is the set of priorities one makes in life. It is how the person interprets their world view and applies it in their life. What we see on Solomon is a change in lifestyle. Before he had the harem, his desire was to be faithful to God. He wanted wisdom so that he could fulfill his calling more effectively. However, the scripture says that Solomon did not have the heart for God that his father David did. David never was attracted to idols. Though he sinned against God, he always repented and returned. He was truly a child of God. Solomon had a problem with idols, and the harem provided them for him. With the harem came a change in lifestyle.

What does verse five describe? He followed Ashtoreth, the consort of Baal, and Molech, the fertility gods of the Sidonians and Ammonites. These were very immoral practices. Verse seven reveals a downward-spiraling progression. What did Solomon do? He built altars to Chemosh and Molech.  Finally, in verse eight he prepared worship for all his foreign wives. Since he prepared altars for some, the rest demanded equal treatment. What resulted was an explosion of pagan worship. With this taking place in Jerusalem and all of the nearby hilltops, the message would go out to all Israel of the acceptance of the practices.  King Solomon had now initiated a pagan revival.

What progression of sin took place in Solomon's life?  He started out faithful, a temptation was encountered, he rationalized it as being correct behavior, he took part in the behavior, the behavior became a part of who he was, the behavior changed his lifestyle, and he then suffered the consequences of his behavior. The word translated evil in verse six means being broken and useless. Solomon became of no value to the Lord's work.

Consider, for a moment, the effect that turning away from God has in our own lives. Christians have all experienced the blessing of God's redemptive salvation and have gladly reaped the benefits. We know that God loves us, has saved us, and has a purpose for us in this world. However, when we turn from him what happens?  Again, note the progression of consequences that sin has when we turn away from God. 

First, we recognize that our initial activity is not godly, but we rationalize it away. We might say, "I have my rights!, nobody can tell me I can't do what I want", or "just a little bit won't hurt." We fail to see what sin really is. We think that sin is an act.  It is not: sin is an attitude.  It is turning our eyes off of God through an ungodly action. Second, once the act is rationalized, it is executed and the immediate gratification of it is realized. It didn't hurt that bad, and it was really satisfying. The initial decision to act has eliminated the first barrier to sin: disobedience. Third, disobedience is easy. Not only is it easier to repeat the action, it is easier to go further than it was initially. Fourth, the act becomes part of the lifestyle. It is no longer an act but a habit. Most, if not all, of the initial feelings of guilt are gone. They are replaced by feelings of self gratification and power. Finally, we are at a point where we are no longer of use to God's kingdom. Our testimony does not reveal us as a child of God, but rather a child of the world. We will experience consequences of our acts. If our sin is a promiscuous lifestyle what result will we find? Common consequences of illicit sex are sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, broken relationships, unfulfilled needs, loss of self respect, and total loss of testimony.  If our sin is to dabble in drugs and/or alcohol, what is the result? Drugs and alcohol lead to tremendous loss... loss of control, loss of property, broken relationships, and again, loss of testimony.  What are other activities that take a toll on our lives? What are their consequences?

All of these were experienced by Solomon. He initially lost the respect of the people because of his taking of gentile wives. Later he lost his influence as King, and ultimately Solomon lost the kingdom.

1 Kings 11:9-13.

And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 11Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy fatherís sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 13Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servantís sake, and for Jerusalemís sake which I have chosen.

Solomon was given an opportunity to have the greatest influence for God any man ever had, prior to the coming of the Messiah. He had more power, more influence, and more resources than any man who ever lived. He could have fulfilled his calling as an Israelite and used these resources to proclaim the one true God, and turned many of the pagan peoples to God. Instead of their conversion, Solomon wandered into their world and supported their lifestyle.

This is probably the greatest sin committed by today's Christians. We have been given the opportunity to have the greatest influence for God that has ever happened since Christ's ascension. The world is at relative peace, and doors have opened up throughout the world for the sharing of the Gospel. No less than a half-billion people who were not accessible a few years ago are now accessible, and many of these are very open to the Gospel. God has called each of us to be ministers of His Gospel. We have a choice. We can be faithful to God in all that we do, and be an influence for God everywhere we go. We will show God through the way we love people and care for them. Ultimately, we may be able to be an influence in their lives for God. 

The other choice is to follow the way of the world. We will be more accepted by it, and receive the short term gratification of it. Ultimately, we will lose fellowship with God, and be of no use to His kingdom.  Take a look at James 1:14-15: 

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Death means separation. A lifestyle of sin separates us from God. When we look at the argument from the point of eternity, sin loses its allure. The wages of sin just aren't worth it.