The following commentary covers Chapters 11 and 12.
failure: the secret of it and its results
Till now we have had the
beautiful picture of God's blessing resting upon the son
of David, whose only desire it had been to possess wisdom
from God, that he might know how to govern His people.
Jehovah had in addition given him riches, magnificence,
and glory. The reverse of this picture, painful to the
heart, serves nevertheless to instruct us in the
righteous dealings of God.
In the event, foreseen by
God, of Israel's having a king, he was forbidden to
multiply his wives or his riches, and to go down into
Egypt to multiply horses (Deut. 17: 16, 17). Now with
whatever blessings we may be surrounded, we can never
forsake the law of God with impunity, nor the walk
appointed in the word for His children. God had bestowed
the abundance of riches and honour on Solomon, who had
only asked for wisdom; but the study of the law, which
was prescribed to the king (Deut. 17: 19, 20), should
have prevented his using the means he did in acquiring
his riches. These chapters teach us that he did precisely
that which the law forbade his doing. He multiplied
silver and gold, he multiplied the number of his wives,
and had a great number of horses brought from Egypt.
God's promise was
fulfilled. Solomon was rich and glorious above all the
kings of his day; but the means he used to enrich himself
shewed a heart at a distance from God, and led to his
ruin according to the just judgment and sure word of God.
How perfect His ways, how
sure His testimony! Holiness becometh His house. His
judgments are unchangeable.
Solomon enjoys the sure
promises of God. He sins in the means by which he seeks
to satisfy his own lusts; and although the result was the
accomplishment of the promise, yet he bears the
consequences of so doing. Outwardly only the fulfilment
of the promise was seen; in fact there was something else.
Without sending for horses from Egypt, and gold from
Ophir, Solomon would have been rich and glorious, for God
had promised it. By doing this he enriched himself, but
he departs from God and from His word. Having given
himself up to his desires after riches and glory, he had
multiplied the number of his wives, and in his old age
they turned away his heart. This neglect of the word,
which at first appeared to have no bad effect (for he
grew rich, as though it had been but the fulfilment of
God's promise), soon led to a departure more serious in
its nature and in its consequences, to influence more
powerful and more immediately opposed to the commands of
God's word, and at last to flagrant disobedience of its
most positive and essential requirements. The slippery
path of sin is always trodden with accelerated steps,
because the first sin tends to weaken in the soul the
authority and power of that which alone can prevent our
committing still greater sinsthat is, the word of
God, as well as the consciousness of His presence, which
imparts to the word all its practical power over us.
God brings chastening and
trouble upon Solomon during his life, and takes from his
family the rule over the greater part of the tribes,
declaring that He will afflict the posterity of David,
but not for ever.
Jeroboam's revolt: the two kingdoms
According to the king's
lamentation (Eccles. 2: 19), he to whom Solomon left all
the fruit of his labour was not wise. His folly brought
the consequences upon him which, in God's counsels, were
attached to his father's sin. Under the guidance of
Jeroboam ten tribes shook off the authority of the house
of David. Looked at with an eye to its responsibility,
the house of David has entirely and for ever lost its
We have to follow the
history of the two kingdoms, and yet more particularly
that of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which retained the
name of Israel, although God still caused the lamp of
David to shine at Jerusalem.
The sin of
Now, the moral fall of the
new kingof Jeroboamwas not long delayed.
Judging by human wisdom and forgetting the fear of
Jehovah, he made two golden calves, in order that the
powerful links of a worship in common might be broken,
and no longer attach his subjects to Judah and Jerusalem.
A new priesthood had to be set up; everything, with
respect to worship, was devised of his own heart. Israel's
sin was an established rule, and the phrase, "Jeroboam,
the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin," became
the sad designation of their first king.