1 Kings 11
This chapter begins with as melancholy a "but" as almost any we find in
all the Bible. Hitherto we have read nothing of Solomon but what was
great and good; but the lustre both of his goodness and of his
greatness is here sullied and eclipsed, and his sun sets under a cloud.
I. The glory of his piety is stained by his departure from God and his
duty, in his latter days, marrying strange wives and worshipping
1 Kings 11:4-8.
II. The glory of his prosperity is stained by God's displeasure against
him and the fruits of that displeasure.
1. He sent him an angry message,
1 Kings 11:9-13.
2. He stirred up enemies, who gave him disturbance, Hadad
(1 Kings 11:14-22),
1 Kings 11:23-25.
3. He gave away ten tribes of his twelve, from his posterity after him,
to Jeroboam, whom therefore he sought in vain to slay
(1 Kings 11:26-40),
and this is all that remains here to be told concerning Solomon, except
his death and burial
(1 Kings 11:41-43),
for there is nothing perfect under the sun, but all is so above the
|Solomon's Defection and Degeneracy.
||B. C. 983.|
1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the
daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites,
Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the
children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall
they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your
heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred
concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives
turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not
perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the
Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not
fully after the LORD, as did David his father.
7 Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the
abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and
for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt
incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
This is a sad story, and very surprising, of Solomon's defection and
I. Let us enquire into the occasions and particulars of it. Shall
Solomon fall, that was the beauty of Israel, and so great a blessing of
his generation? Yes, it is too true, and the scripture is faithful in
relating it, and repeating it, and referring to it long after,
There was no king like Solomon who was beloved of his God, yet even
him did outlandish women cause to sin. There is the summary of his
apostasy; it was the woman that deceived him, and was first
in the transgression.
1. He doted on strange women, many strange women. Here his
(1.) He gave himself to women, which his mother had particularly
cautioned him against.
Give not thy strength unto women (perhaps alluding to Samson,
who lost his strength by giving information of it to a woman), for it
is that which, as much as any thing, destroys kings. His father David's
fall began with the lusts of the flesh, which he should have taken
warning by. The love of women has cast down many wounded
and many (says bishop Hall) have had their head broken by
their own rib.
(2.) He took many women, so many that, at last, they amounted to 700
wives and 300 concubines, 1000 in all, and not one good one among them,
as he himself owns in his penitential sermon
for no woman of established virtue would be one of such a set. God
had, by his law, particularly forbidden the kings to multiply either
horses or wives,
How he broke the former law, in multiplying horses, and having them
out of Egypt too (which was expressly prohibited in that law) we
1 Kings 10:29,
and here we are told how he broke the latter (which proved of more
fatal consequence) in multiplying wives. Note, Less sins, made gold
with, open the door to greater. David had multiplied wives too much,
and perhaps that made Solomon presume it lawful. Note, If those that
are in reputation for religion in any thing set a bad example, they
know not what a deal of mischief they may do by it, particularly to
their own children. One bad act of a good man may be of more pernicious
consequence to others than twenty of a wicked man. Probably Solomon,
when he began to multiply wives, intended not to exceed his father's
number. But the way of sin is down-hill; those that have got into it
cannot easily stop themselves. Divine wisdom has appointed one woman
for one man, did so at first; and those who do not think one enough
will not think two or three enough. Unbridled lust will be unbounded,
and the loosened hind will wander endlessly. But this was not all:
(3.) They were strange women, Moabites, Ammonites, &c., of the nations
which God had particularly forbidden them to intermarry with,
1 Kings 11:2.
Some think it was in policy that he married these foreigners, by them
to get intelligence of the state of those countries. I rather fear it
was because the daughters of Israel were too grave and modest for him,
and those foreigners pleased him with the looseness and wantonness of
their dress, and air, and conversation. Or, perhaps, it was looked upon
as a piece of state to have his seraglio, as his other treasures,
replenished with that which was far-fetched; as if that were too great
an honour for the best of his subjects which would really have been a
disgrace to the meanest of them--to be his mistresses. And,
(4.) To complete the mischief, Solomon clave unto these in love,
1 Kings 11:2.
He not only kept them, but was extravagantly fond of them, set his
heart upon them, spent his time among them, thought every thing well
they said and did, and despised Pharaoh's daughter, his rightful wife,
who had been dear to him, and all the ladies of Israel, in comparison
of them. Solomon was master of a great deal of knowledge, but to what
purpose, when he had no better a government of his appetites?
2. He was drawn by them to the worship of strange gods, as Israel to
Baal-peor by the daughters of Moab. This was the bad consequence of his
multiplying wives. We have reason to think it impaired his health, and
hastened upon him the decays of age; it exhausted his treasure, which,
though vast indeed, would be found little enough to maintain the pride
and vanity of all these women; perhaps it occasioned him, in his latter
end, to neglect his business, by which he lost his supplies from
abroad, and was forced, for the keeping up of his grandeur, to burden
his subjects with those taxes which they complained of,
1 Kings 12:4.
But none of these consequences were so bad as this: His wives turned
away his heart after other gods,
1 Kings 11:3,4.
(1.) He grew cool and indifferent in his own religion and remiss in the
service of the God of Israel: His heart was not perfect with the
Lord his God
(1 Kings 11:4),
nor did he follow him fully
(1 Kings 11:6),
like David. We cannot suppose that he quite cast off the worship of
God, much less that he restrained or hindered it (the temple-service
went on as usual); but he grew less frequent, and less serious, in
his ascent to the house of the Lord and his attendance on his
altar. He left his first love, lost his zeal for God, and did not
persevere to the end as he had begun; therefore it is said he was
not perfect, because he was not constant; and he followed
not God fully, because he turned from following him, and did not
continue to the end. His father David had many faults, but he never
neglected the worship of God, nor grew remiss in that, as Solomon did
(his wives using all their arts to divert him from it), and
there began his apostasy.
(2.) He tolerated and maintained his wives in their idolatry and made
no scruple of joining with them in it. Pharaoh's daughter was
proselyted (as is supposed) to the Jews' religion, but, when he began
to grow careless in the worship of God himself, he used no means to
convert his other wives to it; in complaisance to them, he built
chapels for their gods
(1 Kings 11:7,8),
maintained their priests, and occasionally did himself attend their
altars, making a jest of it, asking, "What harm is there in it? Are not
all religions alike?" which (says bishop Patrick) has been the
disease of some great wits. When he humoured one thus, the rest
would take it ill if he did not, in like manner, gratify them, so that
he did it for all his wives
(1 Kings 11:8),
and at last came to such a degree of impiety that he set up a high
place for Chemosh in the hill that is before Jerusalem, the
mount of Olives, as if to confront the temple which he himself
had built. These high places continued here, not utterly demolished,
till Josiah's time,
2 Kings 23:13.
This is the account here given of Solomon's apostasy.
II. Let us now pause awhile, and lament Solomon's fall; and we may
justly stand and wonder at it. How has the gold become dim! How has
the most fine gold changed! Be astonished, O heavens! at this, and be
horribly afraid, as the prophet exclaims in a like case,
1. How strange,
(1.) That Solomon, in his old age, should be ensnared with fleshly
lusts, youthful lusts. As we must never presume upon the strength of
our resolutions, so neither upon the weakness of our corruptions, so as
to be secure and off our guard.
(2.) That so wise a man as Solomon was, so famed for a quick
understanding and sound judgment, should suffer himself to be made such
a fool of by these foolish women.
(3.) That one who had so often and so plainly warned others of the
danger of the love of women should himself be so wretchedly bewitched
with it; it is easier to see a mischief, and to show it to others, than
to shun it ourselves.
(4.) That so good a man, so zealous for the worship of God, who had
been so conversant with divine things, and who prayed that excellent
prayer at the dedication of the temple, should do these sinful things.
Is this Solomon? Have all his wisdom and devotion come to this at last?
Never was gallant ship so wrecked; never was crown so profaned.
2. What shall we say to all this? Why God permitted it it is not for us
to enquire; his way is in the sea and his path in the great waters; he
knew how to bring glory to himself out of it. God foresaw it when he
said concerning him that should build the temple, If he commit
2 Samuel 7:14.
But it concerns us to enquire what good use we may make of it.
(1.) Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. We see how
weak we are of ourselves, without the grace of God; let us therefore
live in a constant dependence on that grace.
(2.) See the danger of a prosperous condition, and how hard it is to
overcome the temptations of it. Solomon, like Jeshurun, waxed fat and
then kicked. The food convenient, which Agur prayed for, is safer and
better than the food abundant, which Solomon was even surfeited with.
(3.) See what need those have to stand upon their guard who have made a
great profession of religion, and shown themselves forward and zealous
in devotion, because the devil will set upon them most violently, and,
if they misbehave, the reproach is the greater. It is the evening that
commends the day; let us therefore fear, lest, having run well, we seem
to come short.
|God's Displeasure against Solomon.
||B. C. 983.|
9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was
turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him
10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should
not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD
11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is
done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes,
which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from
thee, and will give it to thy servant.
12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy
father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will
give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for
Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.
I. God's anger against Solomon for his sin. The thing he did
displeased the Lord. Time was then the Lord loved Solomon
(2 Samuel 12:24)
and delighted in him
(1 Kings 10:9),
but now the Lord was angry with Solomon
(1 Kings 11:9),
for there was in his sin,
1. The most base ingratitude that could be. He turned from the Lord
who had appeared unto him twice, once before he began to build
(1 Kings 3:5)
and once after he had dedicated it,
1 Kings 9:2.
God keeps account of the gracious visits he makes us, whether we do or
no, knows how often he has appeared to us and for us, and
will remember it against us if we turn from him. God's appearing
to Solomon was such a sensible confirmation of his faith as should have
for ever prevented his worshipping any other god; it was also
such a distinguishing favour, and put such an honour upon him, as he
ought never to have forgotten, especially considering what God said to
him in both these appearances.
2. The most wilful disobedience. This was the very thing concerning
which God had commanded him--that he should not go after other
gods, yet he was not restrained by such an express admonition,
1 Kings 11:10.
Those who have dominion over men are apt to forget God's dominion over
them; and, while they demand obedience from their inferiors, to deny it
to him who is the Supreme.
II. The message he sent him hereupon
(1 Kings 11:11):
The Lord said unto Solomon (it is likely by a prophet) that he
must expect to smart for his apostasy. And here,
1. The sentence is just, that, since he had revolted from God, part of
his kingdom should revolt from his family; he had given God's glory to
the creature, and therefore God would give his crown to his servant:
"I will rend the kingdom from thee, in thy posterity, and will
give it to thy servant, who shall bear rule over much of that
for which thou hast laboured." This was a great mortification to
Solomon, who pleased himself no doubt with the prospect of the entail
of his rich kingdom upon his heirs for ever. Sin brings ruin upon
families, cuts off entails, alienates estates, and lays men's honour in
2. Yet the mitigations of it are very kind, for David's sake
(1 Kings 11:12,13),
that is, for the sake of the promise made to David. Thus all the favour
God shows to man is for Christ's sake, and for the sake of the
covenant made with him. The kingdom shall be rent from Solomon's
(1.) Not immediately. Solomon shall not live to see it done, but it
shall be rent out of the hand of his son, a son that was born to
him by one of his strange wives, for his mother was an Ammonitess
(1 Kings 14:31)
and probably had been a promoter of idolatry. What comfort can a man
take in leaving children and an estate behind him if he do not leave a
blessing behind him? Yet, if judgments be coming, it is a favour to us
if they come not in our days, as
2 Kings 20:19.
(2.) Not wholly. One tribe, that of Judah, the strongest and most
numerous, shall remain to the house of David
(1 Kings 11:13),
for Jerusalem's sake, which David built, and for the sake of the temple
there, which Solomon built; these shall not go into other hands.
Solomon did not quickly nor wholly turn away from God; therefore God
did not quickly nor wholly take the kingdom from him.
Upon this message which God graciously sent to Solomon, to awaken his
conscience and bring him to repentance, we have reason to hope that he
humbled himself before God, confessed his sin, begged pardon, and
returned to his duty, that he then published his repentance in the book
of Ecclesiastes, where he bitterly laments his own folly and madness
and warns others to take heed of the like evil courses, and to fear
God and keep his commandments, in consideration of the
judgment to come, which, it is likely, had made him tremble, as it
did Felix. That penitential sermon was as true an indication of a heart
broken for sin and turned from it as David's penitential psalms were,
though of another nature. God's grace in his people works variously.
Thus, though Solomon fell, he was not utterly cast down; what
God had said to David concerning him was fulfilled: I will chasten
him with the rod of men, but my mercy shall not depart from him,
2 Samuel 7:14,15.
Though God may suffer those whom he loves to fall into sin, he will not
suffer them to lie still in it. Solomon's defection, though it was much
his reproach and a great blemish to his personal character, yet did not
so far break in upon the character of his reign but that it was
afterwards made the pattern of a good reign,
2 Chronicles 11:17,
where the kings are said to have done well, while they walked in the
way of David and Solomon. But, though we have all this reason to
hope he repented and found mercy, yet the Holy Ghost did not think fit
expressly to record his recovery, but left it doubtful, for warning to
others not to sin upon presumption of repenting, for it is but a
peradventure whether God will give them repentance, or, if he
do, whether he will give the evidence of it to themselves or others.
Great sinners may recover themselves and have the benefit of their
repentance, and yet be denied both the comfort and credit of it; the
guilt may be taken away, and yet not the reproach.
||B. C. 980.|
14 And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the
Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.
15 For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the
captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had
smitten every male in Edom;
16 (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until
he had cut off every male in Edom:)
17 That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's
servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little
18 And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they
took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto
Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him a house, and appointed him
victuals, and gave him land.
19 And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so
that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister
of Tahpenes the queen.
20 And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom
Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh's house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh's
household among the sons of Pharaoh.
21 And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his
fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad
said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own
22 Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with
me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he
answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.
23 And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of
Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:
24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a
band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus,
and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.
25 And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon,
beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and
reigned over Syria.
While Solomon kept closely to God and to his duty there was no
adversary nor evil occurrent
(1 Kings 5:4),
nothing to create him any disturbance or uneasiness in the least; but
here we have an account of two adversaries that appeared against him,
inconsiderable, and that could not have done any thing worth taking
notice of if Solomon had not first made God his enemy. What hurt could
Hadad or Rezon have done to so great and powerful a king as Solomon was
if he had not, by sin, made himself mean and weak? And then those
little people menace and insult him. If God be on our side, we need not
fear the greatest adversary; but, if he be against us, he can made us
fear the least, and the very grasshopper shall be a burden.
I. Both these adversaries God stirred up,
1 Kings 11:14,23.
Though they themselves were moved by principles of ambition or revenge,
God made use of them to serve his design of correcting Solomon. The
principal judgment threatened was deferred, namely, the rending of the
kingdom from him, but he himself was made to fee the smart of the rod,
for his greater humiliation. Note, Whoever are, in any way, adversaries
to us, we must take notice of the hand of God stirring them up to be
so, as he bade Shimei curse David; we must look through the instruments
of our trouble to the author of it and hear the Lord's controversy in
II. Both these adversaries had the origin of their enmity to Solomon
and Israel laid in David's time, and in his conquests of their
1 Kings 11:15,24.
Solomon had the benefit and advantage of his father's successes both in
the enlargement of his dominion and the increase of his treasure, and
would never have known any thing but the benefit of them if he had kept
closely to God; but now he finds evils to balance the advantages, and
that David had made himself enemies, who were thorns in his sides.
Those that are too free in giving provocation ought to consider that
perhaps it may be remembered in time to come and returned with interest
to theirs after them; having so few friends in this world, it is our
wisdom not to make ourselves more enemies than we needs must.
1. Hadad, an Edomite, was an adversary to Solomon. We are not told what
he did against him, nor which way he gave him disturbance, only, in
general, that he was an adversary to him: but we are told,
(1.) What induced him to bear Solomon a grudge. David had conquered
2 Samuel 8:14.
Joab put all the males to the sword,
1 Kings 11:15,16.
A terrible execution he made, avenging on Edom their old enmity to
Israel, yet perhaps with too great a severity. From this general
slaughter, while Joab was burying the slain (for he left not any alive
of their own people to bury them, and buried they must be, or they
would be an annoyance to the country,
Hadad, a branch of the royal family, then a little child, was taken and
preserved by some of the king's servants, and conveyed to Egypt,
1 Kings 11:17.
They halted by the way, in Midian first, and then in Paran, where they
furnished themselves with men, not to fight for them or force their
passage, but to attend them, that their young master might go into
Egypt with an equipage agreeable to his quality. There he was kindly
sheltered and entertained by Pharaoh, as a distressed prince, as well
provided for, and so recommended himself that, in process of time, he
married the queen's sister
(1 Kings 11:19),
and by her had a child, which the queen herself conceived such a
kindness for that she brought him up in Pharaoh's house, among the
(2.) What enabled him to do Solomon a mischief. Upon the death of David
and Joab, he returned to his own country, in which, it should seem, he
settled and remained quiet while Solomon continued wise and watchful
for the public good, but from which he had opportunity of making
inroads upon Israel when Solomon, having sinned away his wisdom as
Samson did his strength (and in the same way), grew careless of public
affairs, was off his guard himself, and had forfeited the divine
protection. What vexation Hadad gave to Solomon we are not here told,
but only how loth Pharaoh was to part with him and how earnestly he
solicited his stay
(1 Kings 11:22):
What hast thou lacked with me? "Nothing," says Hadad; "but let
me go to my own country, my native air, my native soil." Peter Martyr
has a pious reflection upon this: "Heaven is our home, and we ought to
keep up a holy affection to that, and desire towards it, even when the
world, the place of our banishment, smiles most upon us." Does it ask,
What have you lacked, that you are so willing to be gone? We may
answer, "Nothing that the world can do for us; but still let us go
thither, where our hope, and honour, and treasure are."
2. Rezon, a Syrian, was another adversary to Solomon. When David
conquered the Syrians, he headed the remains, lived at large by spoil
and rapine, till Solomon grew careless, and then he got possession of
Damascus, reigned there
(1 Kings 11:24)
and over the country about
(1 Kings 11:25),
and he created troubles to Israel, probably in conjunction with Hadad,
all the days of Solomon (namely, after his apostasy), or he was an
enemy to Israel during all Solomon's reign, and upon all occasions
vented his then impotent malice against them, but till Solomon's
revolt, when his defence had departed from him, he could not do them
any mischief. It is said of him that he abhorred Israel. Other
princes loved and admired Israel and Solomon, and courted their
friendship, but here was one that abhorred them. The greatest and best
of princes and people, however much they may in general be respected,
will yet perhaps be hated and abhorred by some.
|Jeroboam's Promotion Foretold.
||B. C. 977.|
26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda,
Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow
woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.
27 And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand
against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the
breaches of the city of David his father.
28 And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and
Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him
ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.
29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of
Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the
way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two
were alone in the field:
30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and
rent it in twelve pieces:
31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus
saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the
kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to
32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake,
and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all
the tribes of Israel:)
33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped
Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the
Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have
not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes,
and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his
34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand:
but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my
servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and
35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will
give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my
servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city
which I have chosen me to put my name there.
37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all
that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.
38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I
command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in
my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my
servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure
house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for
40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam
arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was
in Egypt until the death of Solomon.
We have here the first mention of that infamous name Jeroboam the
son of Nebat, that made Israel to sin; he is here brought upon the
stage as an adversary to Solomon, whom God had expressly told
(1 Kings 11:11)
that he would give the greatest part of his kingdom to his servant, and
Jeroboam was the man. We have here an account,
I. Of his extraction,
1 Kings 11:26.
He was of the tribe of Ephraim, he next in honour to Judah. His mother
was a widow, to whom Providence had made up the loss of a husband in a
son that was active and ingenious, and (we may suppose) a great support
and comfort to her.
II. Of his elevation. It was Solomon's wisdom, when he had work to do,
to employ proper persons in it. He observed Jeroboam to be a very
industrious young man, one that minded his business, took a pleasure in
it, and did it with all his might, and therefore he gradually advanced
him, till at length he made him receiver-general for the two tribes of
Ephraim and Manasseh, or perhaps put him into an office equivalent to
that of lord-lieutenant of those two counties, for he was ruler of the
burden, or tribute, that is, either of the taxes or of the militia of
the house of Joseph. Note, Industry is the way to preferment. Seest
thou a man diligent in his business, that will take care and pains,
and go through with it? he shall stand before kings, and not
always be on the level with mean men. Observe a difference between
David, and both his predecessor and his successor: when Saul saw a
valiant man he took him to himself
(1 Samuel 14:52);
when Solomon saw an industrious man he preferred him; but
David's eyes were upon the faithful in the land, that they might
dwell with him: if he saw a godly man, he preferred him, for he
was a man after God's own heart, whose countenance beholds the
III. Of his designation to the government of the ten tribes after the
death of Solomon. Some think he was himself plotting against Solomon,
and contriving to rise to the throne, that he was turbulent and
aspiring. The Jews say that when he was employed by Solomon in building
Millo he took opportunities of reflecting upon Solomon as oppressive to
his people, and suggesting that which would alienate them from his
government. It is not indeed probable that he should say much to that
purport, for Solomon would have got notice of it, and it would have
hindered his preferment; but it is plainly intimated that he had it in
his thoughts, for the prophet tells him
(1 Kings 11:37),
Thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth. But
this was the cause, or rather this was the story, of the
lifting up of his hand against the king: Solomon made him ruler over
the tribes of Joseph, and, as he was going to take possession of his
government, he was told by a prophet in God's name that he should be
king, which emboldened him to aim high, and in some instances to oppose
the king and give him vexation.
1. The prophet by whom this message was sent was Ahijah of
Shiloh; we shall read of him again,
1 Kings 14:2.
It seems, Shiloh was not so perfectly forsaken and forgotten of God but
that, in remembrance of the former days, it was blessed with a prophet.
He delivered his message to Jeroboam in the way, his servants being
probably ordered to retire, as in a like case
(1 Samuel 9:27),
when Samuel delivered his message to Saul. God's word was not the less
sacred and sure for being delivered to him thus obscurely, under a
hedge it may be.
2. The sign by which it was represented to him was the rending of a
garment into twelve pieces, and giving him ten,
1 Kings 11:30,31.
It is not certain whether the garment was Jeroboam's, as is commonly
taken for granted, or Ahijah's, which is more probable: He (that
is, the prophet) had clad himself with a new garment, on purpose
that he might with it give him a sign. The rending of the kingdom from
Saul was signified by the rending of Samuel's mantle, not Saul's,
1 Samuel 15:27,28.
And it was more significant to give Jeroboam ten pieces of that which
was not his own before than of that which was. The prophets, both true
and false, used such signs, even in the New Testament, as Agabus,
3. The message itself, which is very particular,
(1.) He assures him that he shall be king over ten of the twelve tribes
1 Kings 11:31.
The meanness of his extraction and employment shall be no hindrance to
his advancement, when the God of Israel says (by whom kings reign),
I will give ten tribes unto thee.
(2.) He tells him the reason; not for his good character or deserts,
but for the chastising of Solomon's apostasy: "Because he, and his
family, and many of his people with him, have forsaken me, and
worshipped other gods,"
1 Kings 11:33.
It was because they had done ill, not because he was likely to do much
better. Thus Israel must know that it is not for their
righteousness that they are made masters of Canaan, but for the
wickedness of the Canaanites,
Jeroboam did not deserve so good a post, but Israel deserved so bad a
prince. In telling him that the reason why he rent the kingdom from the
house of Solomon was because they had forsaken God, he warns him to
take heed of sinning away his preferment in like manner.
(3.) He limits his expectations to the ten tribes only, and to them in
reversion after the death of Solomon, lest he should aim at the whole
and give immediate disturbance to Solomon's government. He is here
[1.] That two tribes (called here one tribe, because little
Benjamin was in a manner lost in the thousands of Judah) should remain
sure to the house of David, and he must never make any attempt upon
them: He shall have one tribe
(1 Kings 11:32),
(1 Kings 11:36),
That David may have a lamp, that is, a shining name and memory
and his family, as a royal family, may not be extinct. He must not
think that David was rejected, as Saul was. No, God would not take his
loving-kindness from him, as he did from Saul. The house of David must
be supported and kept in reputation, for all this, because out of it
the Messiah must arise. Destroy it not, for that blessing is
[2.] That Solomon must keep possession during his life,
1 Kings 11:34,35.
Jeroboam therefore must not offer to dethrone him, but wait with
patience till his day shall come to fall. Solomon shall be prince,
all the days of his life, not for his own sake (he had forfeited
his crown to the justice of God), but for David my servant's sake,
because he kept my commandments. Children that do not tread in
their parents' steps yet often fare the better in this world for their
good parents' piety.
(4.) He gives him to understand that he will be upon his good
behaviour. The grant of the crown must run quamdiu se bene
gesserit--during good behaviour. "If thou wilt do what is right
in my sight, I will build thee a sure house, and not otherwise"
(1 Kings 11:38),
intimating that, if he forsook God, even his advancement to the throne
would in time lay his family in the dust; whereas the seed of David,
though afflicted, should not be afflicted for ever
(1 Kings 11:39),
but should flourish again, as it did in many of the illustrious kings
of Judah, who reigned in glory when Jeroboam's family was
IV. Jeroboam's flight into Egypt,
1 Kings 11:40.
In some way or other Solomon came to know of all this, probably from
Jeroboam's own talk of it; he could not conceal it as Saul did, nor
keep his own counsel; if he had, he might have staid in his country,
and been preparing there for his future advancement; but letting it be
1. Solomon foolishly sought to kill his successor. Had not he taught
others that, whatever devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of
the Lord shall stand? And yet does he himself think to defeat that
2. Jeroboam prudently withdrew into Egypt. Though God's promise would
have secured him any where, yet he would use means for his own
preservation, and was content to live in exile and obscurity for a
while, being sure of a kingdom at last. And shall not we be so, who
have a better kingdom in reserve?
|The Death of Solomon.
||B. C. 975.|
41 And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did,
and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of
42 And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all
Israel was forty years.
43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the
city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his
We have here the conclusion of Solomon's story, and in it,
1. Reference is had to another history then extant, but (not being
divinely inspired) since lost, the Book of the Acts of Solomon,
1 Kings 11:41.
Probably this book was written by a chronologer or historiographer,
whom Solomon employed to write his annals, out of which the sacred
writer extracted what God saw fit to transmit to the church.
2. A summary of the years of his reign
(1 Kings 11:42):
He reigned in Jerusalem (not, as his father, part of his time in
Hebron and part in Jerusalem), over all Israel (not as his son,
and his father in the beginning of his time, over Judah only), forty
years. His reign was as long as his father's, but not his life. Sin
shortened his days.
3. His death and burial, and his successor,
1 Kings 11:43.
(1.) He followed his fathers to the grave, slept with them, and was
buried in David's burying-place, with honour no doubt.
(2.) His son followed him in the throne. Thus the graves are filling
with the generations that go off, and houses are filling with those
that are growing up. As the grave cries, "Give, give," so land is never
lost for want of an heir.