1 Kings 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 11)

Verse 3

[3] And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

Seven hundred wives, … — God had particularly forbidden the kings to multiply either horses or wives, 1 Kings 10:29, how he broke the former law, multiplying horses: and here we see, how he broke the latter, multiplying wives. David set the example. One ill act of a good man may do more mischief than twenty of a wicked man. Besides, they were strange women, of the nations which God had expressly forbidden them to marry with. And to compleat the mischief, he clave unto these in love; was extravagantly fond of them, Solomon had much knowledge. But to what purpose, when he knew not how to govern his appetites?

Verse 4

[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 father.

Was old — As having now reigned nigh thirty years. When it might have been expected that experience would have made him wiser: then God permitted him to fall so shamefully, that he might be to all succeeding generations an example of the folly, and weakness of the wisest and the best men, when left to themselves.

Turned his heart — Not that they changed his mind about the true God, and idols, which is not credible; but they obtained from him a publick indulgence for their worship, and possibly persuaded him to join with them in the outward act of idol-worship; or, at least, in their feasts upon their sacrifices, which was a participation of their idolatry.

Verse 5

[5] For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

Milcom — Called also Moloch.

Verse 6

[6] And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

Did evil — That is, did not worship God wholly, but joined idols with him.

Verse 7

[7] Then did Solomon build an 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.

An high place — That is, an altar upon the high place, as the manner of the Heathens was.

The hill — In the mount of olives, which was nigh unto Jerusalem, 2 Kings 23:13. As it were, to confront the temple.

Verse 8

[8] And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

And sacrificed, … — See what need those have to stand upon their guard, who have been eminent for religion. The devil will set upon them most violently: and if they miscarry, the reproach is the greater. It is the evening that commends the day. Let us therefore fear, lest having run well, we come short.

Verse 12

[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.

Fathers sake — For my promise made to him, 2 Samuel 7:12-15.

Verse 13

[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.

One tribe — Benjamin was not entirely his, but part of it adhered to Jeroboam, as Bethel, 2 Chronicles 13:19, both which were towns of Benjamin.

Verse 15

[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;

In Edom — By his army, to war against it.

To bury — The Israelites who were slain in the battle, 2 Samuel 8:13,14, whom he honourably interred in some certain place, to which he is said to go up for that end. And this gave Hadad the opportunity of making his escape, whilst Joab and his men were employed in that solemnity.

Had smitten — Or, and he smote, as it is in the Hebrew: which is here noted as the cause of Hadad's flight; he understood what Joab had done in part, and intended farther to do, even to kill all the males and therefore fled for his life.

Verse 18

[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 an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.

Midian — He fled at first with an intent to go into Egypt, but took Midian, a neighbouring country, in his way, and staid there a while, possibly 'till he had by some of his servants tried Pharaoh's mind, and prepared the way for his reception.

Paran — Another country in the road from Edom to Egypt, where he hired men to attend him, that making his entrance there something like a prince, he might find more favour from that king and people.

Land — To support himself and his followers out of the profits of it.

Verse 19

[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.

Found favour — God so disposing his heart, that Hadad might be a scourge to Solomon for his impieties.

Verse 21

[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 country.

Joab — Whom he feared as much as David himself.

Own country — Whither accordingly he came; and was there, even from the beginning of Solomon's reign. And it is probable, by the near relation which was between his wife and Solomon's; and, by Pharaoh's intercession, he obtained his kingdom with condition of subjection and tribute to be paid by him to Solomon; which condition he kept 'till Solomon fell from God, and then began to be troublesome, and dangerous to his house and kingdom.

Verse 23

[23] And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:

Who fled — When David had defeated him.

Zobah — A part of Syria, between Damascus and Euphrates.

Verse 24

[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.

A band — Of soldiers, who fled upon that defeat, 2 Samuel 10:18, and others who readily joined them, and lived by robbery; as many Arabians did.

Damascus — And took it, whilst Solomon was wallowing in luxury.

Verse 25

[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.

All adversity — He was a secret enemy, all that time; and when Solomon had forsaken God, he shewed himself openly.

Beside — This infelicity was added to the former; whilst Hadad molested him in the south, Rezon threatened him in the north. But what hurt could Hadad or Rezon have done, to so powerful a king as Solomon, if he had not by sin made himself mean and weak? If God be on our side, we need not fear the greatest adversary. But if he be against us, he can make us fear the least: yea, the grasshopper shall be a burden.

Syria — Over all that part of Syria, enlarging his empire the more, and thereby laying a foundation for much misery to Solomon's kingdom.

Verse 28

[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.

Charge — The taxes and tributes.

Verse 29

[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:

Went — Probably to execute his charge.

Were alone — Having gone aside for private conference; for otherwise it is most likely that he had servants attending him, who, though they hear not the words, yet might see the action, and the rending of Jeroboam's coat; and thus it came to Solomon's ears, who being so wise, could easily understand the thing by what he heard of the action, especially when a prophet did it.

Verse 39

[39] And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.

For this — For this cause, which I mentioned verse 33.

Not for ever — There shall a time come when the seed of David shall not be molested by the kingdom of Israel, but that kingdom shall be destroyed, and the kings of the house of David shall be uppermost, as it was in the days of Asa, Hezekiah and Judah. And at last the Messiah shall come, who shall unite together the broken sticks of Judah and Joseph, and rule over all the Jews and Gentiles too.

Verse 40

[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.

Solomon — To whose ears this had come.

Shishak — Solomon's brother-in-law, who yet might be jealous of him, or alienated from him, because he had taken so many other wives to his sister, might cast a greedy eye upon the great riches which Solomon had amassed together, and upon which, presently after Solomon's death, he laid violent hands, 2 Chronicles 12:9.

Verse 41

[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 Solomon?

The book — In the publick records, where the lives and actions of kings were registered from time to time, so this was only a political, not a sacred book.

Verse 42

[42] And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.

Forty years — His reign was as long as his father's, but not his life; sin shortened his days.

Verse 43

[43] And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

Slept — This expression is promiscuously used concerning good and bad; and signifies only, that they died as their fathers did. But did he repent before he died? This seems to be put out of dispute by the book of Ecclesiastes; written after his fall; as is evident, not only from the unanimous testimony of the Hebrew writers, but also, from the whole strain of that book, which was written long after he had finished all his works, and after he had liberally drunk of all sorts of sensual pleasures, and sadly experienced the bitter effects of his love of women, Psalms 51:1-19. So Solomon wrote this book as a publick testimony and profession of his repentance.