Forthright Magazine

The consequences of sin

When we consider the life of Solomon we see a king of Israel who had everything going for him. He was the son of David, said by God to be a man after his own heart. What a great start to life! God spoke directly to Solomon and gave him not only the wisdom he asked for but wealth beyond his imagination and a peaceful reign as king. He built God a house where people could come and worship him. He did so much right and had everything going for him. But…

“King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the Israelites, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done.” (1 King 11:1-6 NRSVUE)

What a sad statement about a life that had everything going for it! Like so many men his temptation and problem was women. He had more than anyone should have. Can you imagine it? – 700 wives and 300 slave wives (concubines)! The problem was that many of these were foreign women, those with which God said the Israelites should not intermarry. What was the problem? They worshipped false gods. And they not only worshipped these pagan gods but they led Solomon to worship them, as well.

If these were not bad enough, he began to build places of worship for these false gods including Chemosh and Molech. Some of these were worshipped with child sacrifice and prostitution – no wonder they were an abomination to God! What Solomon did angered God.

“Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘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 King 11:11-13)

Sin has consequences and the result of Solomon’s sin was felt throughout the entire nation. When he died most of the kingdom seceded from his son’s rule and formed a new kingdom under Jeroboam. God gave Solomon one tribe for the sake of David: Judah became the other kingdom under Solomon’s son Rehoboam.

But what about Solomon – did he ever return to God? Although we don’t find anything about this in scripture I like to think that he did. Two things spring to mind that might back this up.

  1. At the end of Ecclesiastes when Solomon seems to be an old man he wrote: “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 CSB).
  2. The statements Jesus made about Solomon never condemned him.

So perhaps the lesson for us is to always be aware of our own lives. Although we may be faithful now we can forsake God. But even that does not have to be permanent because if we are willing to change we can return.

Photo by Jon Galloway: reconstructed pagan altar outside the gates of Dan, Israel.

Readings for next week: 1 Kings 11-16


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