As finish the period of the “Royal Kingdom,” we read about Solomon’s palace (which is twice a large and twice as costly as the Temple was!), prayer, and the sacrifice he offers to God. God tells Solomon:
As for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised your father David, saying, ‘There shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’1 Kings 9:4
Unfortunately this time is short lived. Realizing that he built a palace double in size to the Temple, you might start to question what’s in Solomon’s heart. But his turning from God actualy came earlier, asin 1 Kings 3, Solomon had married Pharaoh’s daughter – marrying outside of his own covenant (which we’ve seen time and again causes problems) . Solomon also offered sacrifices in the “high places” – which likely means Canaanite shrines to other gods. His heart is clearly not solely focused on God, which we see played out to the full when he somehow takes 700 wives and 300 hundred concubines (taking the concept of polygamy beyond what anyone might have imagined possible!) Finally, 1 Kings 10 & 11, we hear huge numbers of hourses & chariots, the wives, and that he takes in 666 gold talents annually – all of which breaks God’s directive that kings should not multiply horses, wives, and silver or gold (Deuteronomy 17).
And so Solomon sets up temples and altars in Israel to other gods, which leads God to give him a very different kind of message:
“Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”1 Kings 11:11-13
This leads to the next period in our study, on the “Divided Kingdom.” This section, set from 930BC-722BC concludes the 1st book of Kings and involves most of the second book of Kings. We’re going to read how, just as God said, the Kingdom will be ‘torn’ from the line of Solomon.
As you read of the decline of Israel, remember that God keeps this promise – that Jesus is born of the line of David, and reigns as King of the Universe (including Israel). Here’s this week’s readings: