7.5 Solomon: What Went Wrong?
7-5-1 Solomon's Apostacy
Throughout the record in Kings, there are copious hints that right
from his early years all Solomon's spirituality was shot through
with an incredible duality; his motives were partly spiritual,
partly carnal - without him being the slightest bit aware of this.
The degree of self-deception in that man is hard to plumb, yet he
was a fervent believer in the God of Israel, zealous to lay his
life down in service before Him. Solomon's lack of self-knowledge
really should be a glaring warning to each of us.
Let's wade through all the evidence so as to appreciate how the
very soul of Solomon was characterized by this partial spirituality,
which appeared (to him and to Israel) as such wonderful commitment
to the Lord.
" Only" the people sacrificed in high places...and
Solomon loved the Lord...only he sacrificed...in
high places" (1 Kings 3:2,3), highlights the contradiction
between Solomon's love for God and his willingness to sacrifice
in the " high places" which God detested - for the
Law clearly spelt out that sacrifice could only be offered in
the tabernacle, at the place where Yahweh's Name was placed
(Dt. 12:5-8; 14:23-25).
Solomon later turned to alcohol for a while (Ecc. 1)- yet his
girlfriend says that Solomon took her to house of wine (Song
2:4 RVmg.) whilst still young. The seeds of failure were there
early on- he preached against wine in Proverbs, and yet still
" Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by
the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and making merry"
(1 Kings 4:20). This combines allusions to two different
passages. Clearly there is reference to the fact
that the Abrahamic promises had a primary fulfillment at this
time. But the final phrase refers back to Israel's idolatry
with the golden calf. It is as if the dualism within Solomon
at this time - in being the primary fulfillment of the seed,
and yet also being apostate - was fulfilled in Israel.
We see elsewhere several indications that Solomon and Israel
were closely connected (cp. Christ and the church).
Solomon's enthusiasm for Egyptian horses is clearly chronicled
(1 Kings 4:26-28), although this was studied disobedience to
His marriage out of the faith right at the start of his reign
is commented upon elsewhere. This was the beginning of Solomon's
The hollowness of Solomon's early worship is made all too apparent
by 2 Chron. 1:3-6; he worshipped in a tabernacle without
the ark (i.e. the presence of God). The children of the Arab
tribes “that were left after them in the land, whom the children
of Israel also were not able to destroy, upon those did Solomon
levy a tribute” (1 Kings 9:21) suggests that Solomon made the
same mistake as Israel in earlier days- he was a satisficer,
he himself married into those tribes, and he wasn’t obedient
to the clear covenant of the land which was binding upon him.
The apostate religious system called " Babylon"
in Revelation is evidently presented in the language of Solomon
- at the time his kingdom was apparently flourishing, due to his
1 Kings Revelation
11:1,5 (Solomon influenced
2:20 cp. 1 Kings 16:31
2 Chron. 9:15 (666)
The description of Solomon's trading with Egypt is described with
an unusual phrase- he brought forth chariots and horses out of Egypt
by his hand (1 Kings 10:29). But the Hebrew phrase 'to bring forth
by the hand' is used so very often to described how God's might
hand brought forth His people from Egypt- destroying the horses
and chariots of Egypt in the process (Ex. 7:4,5; 13:3,14,16; 14:8;
32:11 and so often). This is such a major theme in Biblical history
that the inspired choice of words is surely intentional and allusive
in 1 Kings 10:29- for Solomon did the very opposite to what God
did for His people. Solomon's hand brought forth and glorified the
chariots and horses of Egypt, bringing them all the way from Egypt
to Canaan. Solomon is thus being subtly set up as an anti-God figure-
although apparently, all was well, the promises of blessing were
being fulfilled etc.
God's House Versus Solomon's House
The record of Solomon's building of his own house is clearly framed
to reveal the sad fact that his zeal for God's house was only an
outcome of his own natural zeal and hard work; but that tremendous
energy was given far more scope in achieving his own ends.
So often apparently active brethren are only so because the Truth
is only compounding their own naturally active characters.
For example, those who naturally like travelling can seem zealous
Gospel preachers. The style of the record makes this
clear of Solomon:
" So was he seven years in building (God's house)...
but Solomon was building his
own house thirteen years" (1 Kings 6:38; 7:1).
His own house (cp. our family and mortgage) assumed almost double
the importance of God's house. In this we see Solomon's apostacy.
The architectural detail given concerning Solomon's house and "
the house of the forest of Lebanon" seems to be given in such
a format as to compare with that concerning God's house.
The porch of Solomon's house matches that of the temple (Ez. 8:7,16),
which in Ezekiel's time was a place of apostacy. Solomon's
own house was undeniably larger than God's, although built with
the same layout (e.g. 1 Kings 6:2 cp. 7:2; 6:36 cp. 7:12;
5:1-5 cp. 7:13). The " another court within the
porch" in his house seems to have been a replica of the Most
Holy within God's house (1 Kings 7:8), yet it was here that Solomon's
wives worshipped their idols. Likewise the record of
the foundation stones (7:10) is similar to that of the temple foundations.
The two pillars with their pomegranates and lily-work seem to have
matched the open flowers of the temple, and they have ominous connections
with Absalom's pillar of self-glorification (2 Sam. 18:18).
Worst of all, Solomon's throne seems to have been built with allusion
to Yahweh's enthronement upon the praises of Israel in the Most
Holy. The temple steps are mentioned in the context
of the steps to Solomon's throne (2 Chron. 9:4,18).
Length: 60 cubits, breadth 20,
height 30 (1 Kings 6:2)
Length: 100 cubits, breadth 50,
height 30 (1 Kings 7:2)
Used cedar pillars and beams (1
1 Kings 7:2
Inner court built with three rows
of hewn stone and a row of cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36 RV)
“The great court round about had
three rows of hewn stones, and a row of cedar beams, like
as the inner court of the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 7:12)
Hiram called in to build it (1
1 Kings 7:13
The Most Holy within God's house
(1 Kings 7:8)
The " another court within
the porch" in his house seems to have been a replica
of the Most Holy within God's house. Here Solomon’s wives
worshipped their idols.
Built on large foundation stones
The record of the foundation stones
(7:10) is similar to that of the temple foundations.
The temple had a “porch” (Ez. 8:7,16)
The porch of Solomon's house matches
that of the temple (Ez. 8:7,16), which in Ezekiel's time
was a place of apostacy.
Open flowers design of the temple
The two pillars with their pomegranates
and lily-work seem to have matched the open flowers of the
temple, and they have ominous connections with Absalom's
pillar of self-glorification (2 Sam. 18:18).
The way the record of Solomon's house follows straight on from
that of God's house (1 Kings 6,7) seems to highlight the similarity
between them. The house of Yahweh and Solomon's house
are often spoke of together (e.g. 2 Chron. 7:11; 8:1;
9:11) to make us reflect on this. Indeed, the record
of Solomon's house in 1 Kings 7:1-12 is a parenthesis out of historical
sequence; 5:2-6:38 and 7:13-9:9 are about the temple;
7:1-12 is a clear parenthesis to demonstrate Solomon's weakness.
Solomon was an enthusiast, a hard worker. Throughout Old and New
Testaments (not to mention the Christian experience) works and apostacy
are associated. Yet enthusiastic response to the love
of God must be inevitable in the life of the true believer.
In this lies the challenge of balance and correct motivation;
to respond with emotion and warmth to the Gospel, yet without doing
so only in ways which compound our own personality in ways which
allow us to express our own personality and ambition to our own
self-glorification. Our response must be to pick up
the cross, to serve as we would not, to capture the spirit of service
which is in Christ.