Bible Readings for October 8th
As Israel’s king, Solomon reaches extraordinary heights during Israel’s golden age. Lavish wealth, rich cultural achievements, and wide-ranging justice characterize this era to a degree that Israel has never seen before or since. But, precisely because Solomon enjoys such abundance, his heart is drawn away to worship the false gods of foreign nations, which here in 1 Kings 11 brings this extraordinary period in Israel’s history crashing down almost as quickly as it begins.
The chief cause of Solomon’s apostasy stems from his marrying “many foreign women…from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods’” (1 Kgs. 11:1, 2–3). Now, this is not the same thing as saying that “there’s a woman to blame” for all of Solomon’s troubles—the biblical writer puts all the blame for Solomon’s apostasy on Solomon, who had disobeyed Yahweh’s explicit commandments not to marry foreign women who worshiped foreign gods.
Still, there is a clear warning here that we ought to be careful with the company we keep, both by avoiding being unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), and also by avoiding deep relationships with people of particularly bad character, since “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Obviously, we should strive to enter into relationships with unbelievers, for how will people come to know the good news of Jesus unless someone tells them (Rom. 10:14)? But, when we enter into too many relationships too deeply with people who are not also being conformed to the image of Christ, there is real danger that those relationships will undermine our discipleship, as happened in Solomon’s case.
Because Solomon violates Yahweh’s covenant by serving other gods—something Yahweh had twice warned him specifically against when he appeared to him (1 Kgs. 11:9–10; cf. 1 Kgs. 3:3–14, 9:1–9)—Yahweh issues a curse for Solomon’s disobedience: “I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant….However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen” (1 Kgs. 11:11–13). Israel’s golden age here comes to an abrupt, terrible end. David’s offspring fails to obey Yahweh for even one generation.
And yet, Yahweh nevertheless promises to keep David’s son on the throne of Israel to reign over at least one tribe, Judah. It will be through this dynasty of kings, reigning in Jerusalem over the tribe of Judah, that Yahweh will eventually fulfill his promise to David by raising up a better king who would reign not only over Israel but over all the kingdoms of this world.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.