We have been weaving through I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Along with the kings of Israel and Judah, Elijah and Elisha feature strongly in these books.
I find 1 Kings chapter 11, the report of Solomon’s fall, to be a very painful passage. Why? Why? Why? With all the splendor, success, fame, wisdom, wealth…. WHY did he throw it all away?
We usually blame Solomon’s 700 (!) wives, or even his 300 concubines, and their false gods — and rightly so (I Kings 11:3). But was there another problem?
Apparently, Solomon believed that he was better than any leader before him AND any who would come after. He wrote, “I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me” (Ecc 2:9); “What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done?” (Ecc 2:12). Yet his very own proverbs warn of the danger of pride: it goes before destruction and precedes a man’s downfall.
The reading plan we are using for the Read-a-Thon places Solomon’s proverbs before I Kings 11, and Ecclesiastes after it. That makes sense, because Ecclesiastes takes on a distinctly cynical tone. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless,” Solomon laments (Ecc 1:2). He says that his heart began to despair, and that he “hated life” (Ecc 2:17). Perhaps by the time of its writing, Solomon had already turned to evil.
The foreign wives with foreign gods? An overdose of wisdom? A heart of pride? Whatever the reasons, Solomon’s slippery slide from God’s grace sends Israel into a downward spiral — a tumultuous period of division, civil war and punishment from God. Treachery and conspiracy abound.
In this context, another very sad event was the stoning of Zechariah by King Joash — yet his father Jehoida had both saved and served him! So heartbreaking. In turn, his officials conspired against Joash and killed him in his bed. Revenge and counter-revenge seem to be the norm in this era, and it is all justified in the name of “avenging the blood.”
THANK GOD for the blood of Jesus; without it, where would we be?
- TO NOTE: It is interesting how many Proverbs mention the frustration of having a troublesome wife. Surely, Solomon must have known since he had 700 of them!