I am sure we have all at some point read or heard a passage from the book of Proverbs, Song of Solomon or Ecclesiastes- books that carry threads of wisdom through them. As we know King Solomon had the honour of being the wisest King in the Bible. However, to who much is given, much is expected. Through examples such as that of Samson or even King David, we see men who were entrusted with a gift or a position of power and abused it. Despite the great gift King Solomon was bestowed with, he was still subject to sin and unlike his father, he drew further away from God. Essentially, he ended up backsliding…so how did he get there?
God’s Relationship with Solomon
God gave Solomon wisdom, very great insight, and understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone — wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, sons of Mahol. His reputation extended to all the surrounding nations1 Kings 4:29-31
In this Solomon requested wisdom and this was given to him. God even commended the humble nature of his request and exceeded his request by adding wealth and honour to the list! (1 Kings 3:10-14) and it was such a good thing that he attained that wisdom. We are certainly reaping from it today.
Solomon Turns from God
King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn your heart away to follow their gods.” To these women Solomon was deeply attached in love – 1 Kings 11:1-2
Foreign women were Solomon’s vice and idol and he never actively tried to wean himself off them. He didn’t even exercise or tap into the gift of vast wisdom that was given to him- but instead, he sought vices out. He allowed these women to take precedence in his heart and turn it towards other gods. His devotion to God gradually deteriorated.
Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord…The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.1 Kings 11:6, 9
The Lord appeared to King Solomon twice first in a dream for Solomon to make a request from Him (1 King 3:5). He also appeared to Solomon a second time saying if Solomon obeyed His command and lived according to His will, that He would establish the throne of Solomon’s kingdom over Israel forever (1 Kings 9:2). In God’s latter appearance to Solomon, He blesses him but also issues a warning: “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name” (1 King 9:6-7).
Solomon did not observe what the Lord said, which made the Lord angry. To expound on this point further, when in right living with God we can experience fruitful moments where God can bless us richly, where we walk intimately with God and receive His favour. However, when we go against His commands, out of love, God can chastise us. If we don’t honour Him with our lives, He can remove certain gifts and responsibilities from us. As a consequence of Solomon living according to his own desires and not God’s desires, God said He would remove the kingdom from his lineage leaving his son Rehoboam only with Judah (out of love for his grandfather David). God also raised adversaries to rebel against Solomon.
Lessons on backsliding
1) Solomon neglected His time with God – which gave way to various forms of idols forming within him. Our time with God allows us to be purified and refined by the word (John 15:1-4).
2) In that neglect, Solomon sought after what God had warned him against, leading him to sin. We are warned to flee from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
3) Solomon’s gift could not cushion him nor protect him from the sin that dwelt within and the temptations of the world (1 Kings 11:11).
4) Our disobedience can impact our bloodline, we need to think carefully about the seeds we sow in our lives as this will reap blessing or disaster for our offspring. It was the obedience of King David that saved King Solomon’s son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:12)
5) 1 Kings 11’s account of Solomon’s love for his sin acts as a warning to all of us. Matthew Henry puts it, “Though we have reason to hope that he repented, and found mercy, yet the Holy Ghost did not expressly record it, but left it doubtful, as a warning to others not to sin. The guilt may be taken away, but not the reproach; that will remain. Thus it must remain uncertain to us till the day of judgment, whether or not Solomon was left to suffer the everlasting displeasure of an offended God.“
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.Romans 8:39 (b)
Whilst King Solomon was not in close fellowship with God, it didn’t mean that God’s love for him died. It is important to mention that no one is too far gone for salvation. When we sincerely repent of our sins and turn away from our wicked ways, we can approach God’s throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). If as Christians we backslide and then become aware of this, as long as there is breath in our lungs we can still cry out to our Father as He waits for us with a patient and steadfast love (2 Peter 3:8).