1 Kings 11


Solomon was great in nearly everything he did.  He manifested great wisdom; he built great monuments; he demonstrated a great talent for organization; he developed a great trading empire.  But he also was great in another area - he exhibited great folly.  This man who was so great in wisdom made a fundamental error which brought him down.


There is a lesson here.  It is that wisdom is no guarantee against foolishness.  It is possible to know all the right things, to possess all the correct doctrine, to have a sound mind and a keen intellect and yet still follow a course of extreme silliness.


This chapter teaches us about the silliness of Solomon and the long-lasting effects that it would bring about.








Solomon’s Sins

Decree of God’s Judgment

God’s Judgment carried out

Solomon’s Closing Years



Hadad the Edomite


Jeroboam of Ephraim



Up to this point, the descriptions of Solomon and his kingdom given in the book of Kings have been primarily positive in nature.







Blessing Promised

Blessing Given

Blessing & Warning

Blessing Given



With chapter 11, there will be a dramatic change.  Up to now, we have seen primarily POSITIVE things said about Solomon and his reign.  Now we shall see the NEGATIVE side of his reign.  Up to this point, we have focused upon Solomon’s obedience.  Now we shall focus upon his disobedience.





The Law of the Lord had given some very specific requirements for how the king of Israel was supposed to conduct himself.


14                     “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.

16                     “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’

17                     “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. (Deuteronomy 17:14-17).


These laws were given in the days of Moses, hundreds of years before Israel ever had a king.  Notice the specific prohibitions.


·        Multiply horses or cause people to return to Egypt for horses (17:16).

·        Multiply wives (17:17).

·        Greatly increase silver and gold for himself (17:17).


We have already seen how Solomon had transgressed two of these prohibitions in the previous chapters.  Now we come to the third and perhaps the most serious of the forbidden things.


1.         The Sin of Having Foreign Wives.


            Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,  2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.”  Solomon held fast to these in love. (1 Kings 11:1-2).


The multitude of wives which were accumulated by Solomon were the result of the many marital alliances with surrounding cities, nations and kingdoms.  But this was no excuse for breaking the explicit command of God.

There is a principle here.  Expediency is never an excuse for doing wrong.  Solomon might well have tried to justify his actions by saying it was a means to fulfilling God’s promise to raise up the kingdom of David.  But it is never right to do wrong.


Verse 2 says that Solomon held fast to these in love - his affections for them would lead to a corresponding decrease in his affections and his love for the Lord.  Sin always does that.  You cannot love sin and still love the Lord.  They are opposites.  The more you love sin, the more you will move away from the Lord.


But it is not merely outward or overt sin that pulls you away from God.  There can be things which, of themselves, are merely neutral and amoral which can compete for your affections.  Money is one of these things.  Jesus warned that you cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).  The more you love money, the less you will love the Lord.


2.         The Sin of a Turned Heart.


3                       He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.

4                       For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (1 Kings 11:3-4).


Verse 4 says that Solomon’s heart was not “wholly devoted” (perfected).  This is the same word that was used in 1 Kings 8:61 where Solomon called the people to be “wholly devoted to the Lord.”

There is nothing more tragic than one who started on the right path but who later turned away.  In Solomon’s case, it was his many wives who were instrumental in turning his heart away from the Lord.


This is why it is so important that believers marry believers.  The Bible speaks explicitly against Christians marrying unbelievers.


            Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

            Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).


How many times have I heard the plaintive wail, “Perhaps I can bring him to Christ! 

Satan has been using the same technique since the Garden of Eden to draw men away from the Lord.

It rarely works that way.   Usually it has the opposite effect.  Usually such a relationship results in the Christian being pulled away from the Lord.


This “turning away” did not happen all at once.  It was a gradual thing.  We see this by the fact that it happened “when Solomon was old” (11:4).  He began by merely allowing his wives to worship in their accustomed manner.  But he eventually found himself joining in their idolatrous worship.


3.         The Sin of Idolatry.


5                       For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites.

6                       Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.

7                       Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.

8                       Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. (1 Kings 11:5-8).


What started as mere political expedience took Solomon to the point where he was bowing down and worshiping false gods.



Plural form of Ishtar/Astar, literally, “Goddess.”

In the Canaanite pantheon, Ishtar was the female consort of Baal.

As such, she was a fertility goddess and her worship involved certain fertility rites.


Also known as Molech - literally, “King.”

This was the god of the Ammonites.


This was the national god of Moab.  The meaning of the name is uncertain (“Conqueror”?).  His name is found on the Moabite stone describing him as a war god.


The mountain which is east of Jerusalem seems to be a reference to the Mount of Olives.  This had formerly been a place where God was worshiped (2 Samuel 15:32).  But now it was taken and made a place of apostasy.

It is not that Solomon renounced the Lord.  It is that he tried to worship God AND the other false gods.  And in doing so, he tried to relegate God to the position of being only one god among others.  God will NEVER take second place.  He wants to be FIRST place in your life.





1.         The Basis for the Judgment.


            Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. (1 Kings 11:9-10).


The writer does not tell us that God was angry with Solomon because of the amassing of riches or because he had developed a chariot corps or even because of his many wives.  The anger of God was due to his sin of idolatry.


There is a lesson here.  It is that God takes worship very seriously.  He has ordained how He is to be worshiped and He does not permit that worship to go to another.


Solomon was all the more culpable because the Lord had appeared to him twice (11:9).  Greater revelation always results in greater responsibility.


2.         The Revealing of the Judgment.


            So the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. (1 Kings 11:11).


The covenant which had been given to Solomon contained conditions.  The promises which were a part of that covenant were conditional in nature.  If Solomon obeyed, then the kingdom would continue.  If Solomon disobeyed, then the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another.


3.         Grace Amidst the Judgment.


12                     “Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.

13                     “However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but 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 11:12-13).


There is a temporary respite in this judgment.  It is not carried out upon Solomon; it will be carried out upon his son.  The reason for this is not because Solomon deserves the respite.  The reason is because of David.


Here is the principle.  Our obedience sometimes results in blessings for our children.  And the reverse is also true - our disobedience sometimes results in negative consequences upon our children.  Sin always bears children.  And our sins affect the lives of our children.





The rest of the chapter is taken up with the story of three men whom God raised up against the throne of Solomon.  They would prove to be a thorn in his side.  Each one would be increasingly troublesome.



Royal line in Edom

Enemy to the south

Fled to Egypt and found refuge there


Leader of a band of marauders

Enemy to the north

Led Damascus as an enemy of Israel


Solomon appointed him as leader of the forced labor over the tribes of Joseph

Enemy within

Promised the 10 northern tribes


1.         Hadad the Edomite.


            Then the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the royal line in Edom. (1 Kings 11:14).


It was the Lord who raised up an adversary (   ) against Solomon.  The Edomites were the descendants of Esau.  They had been conquered by David and he had placed garrisons throughout the land of Edom (2 Samuel 8:14).

In that conquest, every male in the land of Edom had been put to death.  The only ones who had escaped were those who fled the land.


Question:  Was the extermination of the men of Edom the proper thing to have done?  On the one hand, the point is made that it was Joab who had led this slaughter.  However, Deuteronomy 20:13 states that when a city refused to make peace with the Israelites and it was afterward given into their hands by the Lord, they were to “strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword.”


After the deaths of David and Joab, Hadad returned to Edom to become an adversary to Solomon.


2.         Rezon, the Son of Eliada.


23                     God also raised up another adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.

24                     He gathered men to himself and became leader of a marauding band, after David slew them of Zobah; and they went to Damascus and stayed there, and reigned in Damascus.(1 Kings 11:23-24).


Rezon seems to be related to the similar name “Rezin” - the name possibly comes from the Assyrian rasunu, meaning “chief.”  Thus we shall also read of  Rezin the king of Aram” in the days of Ahaz as being the last of the kings of Damascus (Isaiah 7:1; 2 Kings 16:9).


This Rezon began his career by revolting against the kingdom of Zobah, one of the Aramaean city-states between Damascus and the northern boarder of Israel (its exact location is unknown).  When Zobah was defeated and absorbed into the Israelite homogeny, Rezon kept the spirit of revolt alive from Damascus.


3.         Jeroboam.


The name comes from the joining of two Hebrew words.  His name means “great one of the people.”  Jeroboam came from the people.  He had no royal lineage.  His father had served as servant to the king.  Yet he would become the founder of a new dynasty, ruling over the 10 northern tribes of Israel.





When Solomon was building up the fortifications in and around the city of Jerusalem, he appointed Jeroboam as the overseer for the forced labor crews over the house of Joseph - the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.


1.         The Prophecy.


29                     It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field.

30                     Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces.  31  He said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes 32 (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), 33 because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. (1 Kings 11:29-33).


The tearing of this cloak is reminiscent of the time that Saul tried to hold onto Samuel and tore his cloak.  Samuel used that instance to illustrate that the kingdom would be torn from Saul.  There was also a tearing when Jesus died upon the cross.  In His case, it was the veil of the Temple which was rent, demonstrating that the way to God had been opened for all.

What Solomon lost in the dividing of the kingdom, Jesus repaired, not only in the restoring of the breach between Israel and Judah, but in restoring the breach between men and God, thus tearing down the dividing wall between all men.

God sends a prophet to Jeroboam with a message.  This message is conveyed with a graphic picture.  The prophet is wearing a new cloak.  He takes the cloak and begins to rip it apart.  He continues to rip until there are 12 pieces.  The clothing is ruined.  He then gives to Jeroboam 10 of these pieces.  It is a picture of what God is going to do to the nation of Israel.  Ten tribes will be ripped from the house of David and given to Jeroboam because of the idolatry which Solomon has brought into the land.  The son of Solomon will be permitted to retain a single tribe (Levi doesn’t count as a separate tribe as the Levites have no separate inheritance).


This is meant as a punishment against Solomon for his idolatry.  But Solomon’s punishment brings both privilege and responsibility to Jeroboam.  He will have the privilege of being king over the northern tribes.  He will also have the responsibility of following the Lord.


2.         The Promise.

            “I will take you, and you shall reign over whatever you desire, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:37-38).


Jeroboam is given essentially the same promises and the same responsibilities which had first been given to Solomon.  If he will follow the Lord, then God will be with him and build for him “an enduring house” in the same way He build such a dynasty for David.


There is a lesson which the writer of Kings is seeking to impart to his readers - those who are facing the prospect of a Babylonian Captivity.  It is that God is able to take cursing and to turn it into blessing.


Historical Lesson

Immediate Lesson

Today’s Application

Solomon’s curse was that all but one of the tribes would be taken from his son.

Judah’s curse was that the Temple was destroyed and her people carried to a foreign land.

Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11).

Jeroboam was given 10 tribes and the promise of an enduring house.

Judah was given the opportunity to return and rebuild.

As many as did receive Him have been given the right to become sons of God (John 1:12).

Jeroboam would continue to be blessed as long as he obeyed.

The restoration of worship and of relationship would only take place through obedience.

If we continue to walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another and cleansing from sin (1 John 1:7).


Romans 11 tells us that the unbelief in Israel has made it possible for the gospel to go to the Gentiles.  This does not mean that we should take up an attitude of anti-Semitism or of smug self-righteousness.  The church only continues to enjoy the benefits of blessing as she is obedient to the same terms of the covenant - believing and obeying the commands and the promises of God.


3.         Jeroboam’s Flight.

            Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt, and he was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. (1 Kings 11:40).


The inclusion of the word “therefore” makes it appear that the reason Solomon attempted to put Jeroboam to death was because he had heard about this prophecy.  This is certainly possible.  However the word “therefore” is absent from the Hebrew text.  The Hebrew contains only a   conjunctive (“and”).  It seems more likely that Jeroboam used this prophecy as an excuse to attempt to incite a revolution.  Verse 27 specifically states that Jeroboam rebelled against the king.  The account which follows relates how it came about that this rebellion took place.


Verse 26

Verse 27

Verses 28-39

Verse 40

Jeroboam rebelled against the king

Now this was the reason why he rebelled against the king...

Ahijah’s Prophecy

Solomon sought to put Jeroboam to death


In this regard, Jeroboam stands in marked contrast to David who also had received a prophecy that he would be king.




Told by Samuel that he would replace Saul as king.

Told by Ahijah that he would be given 10 tribes from Solomon’s son.

He was content to wait for the Lord to bring this about.

He determined to fulfill the prophecy by inciting a revolt.


From this, we can already see that Jeroboam will eventually take the northern tribes in a direction away from the Lord.  His is the way of self-will.  It leads ultimately to captivity.


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