1 Kings 11: For the sake of David – Solomon crucified

1Now(A) King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel,(B) “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and(C) his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God,(D) as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after(E) Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after(F) Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. 7Then Solomon built a high place for(G) Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for(H) Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.


Now almost immediately after 1 Kings 10 where the Queen of Sheba admired the Wisdom upon Solomon, this Excellent Wife of Proverbs 31 whom Solomon clung upon, we are immediately introduced to Solomon’s ‘many foreign women’ – immediately raising alarm regarding Solomon’s wavering faith materialized in the form of sexual disloyalty.  This message is especially potent given that these Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites (v.1) were ‘from the nations concerning which the LORD has said… “You shall not enter into marriage with them… for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” (v.2), immediately followed by the disappointing conclusion – “Solomon clung to these in love” (my emphasis).  It is almost as if Proverbs 9:13 and Revelation 14:8 came to life with these very words regarding Solomon’s 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines, unsurprisingly turning away his heart.  A further layer of irony lies in the fact that Solomon built a high place for a foreign god “on the mountain east of Jerusalem” – the Mount of Olives (v.7):


“”The Mount of Olives” occurs in the Old Testament in (Zechariah 14:4) only. In (2 Samuel 15:30) it is called “Olivet;” in other places simply “the mount,” (Nehemiah 8:15) “the mount facing Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7) or “the mountain which is on the east aide of the city.” (Ezekiel 11:23) In the New Testament the usual form is “the Mount of Olives.” It is called also “Olivet.” (Acts 1:12) This mountain is the well-known eminence on the east of Jerusalem, intimately connected with some of the gravest events of the history of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the scene of the flight of David and the triumphal progress of the Son of David, of the idolatry-of Solomon, and the agony and betrayal of Christ.” – Smith’s dictionary


It is interesting how David is continuously is referred to as the measuring rod of having a heart wholly true to the LORD, despite his shortcomings in his adultery with Bathsheba, deceit with Joab, neglect of Tamar, murder of Uriah – to name a few.  Yet, this is because David is not seen merely as the David, son of Jesse; but rather simultaneously as the Messianic David (Mark 11:10), the true son of David (Matthew 12:23; Revelation 22:16), son of the Father in Heaven.  Glen Scrivener notes the importance of the Christian Old Testament from his paper “Martin Luther’s interpretation of Genesis chapter 3”:


Luther came to Genesis not primarily seeking for grammatical and historical understanding, but seeking for Christ.  As he claimed above, ‘the Scriptures must be understood in favour of Christ.’  For Luther, distinguishing the Church from Old Testament Israel has never been a question of adding a new, retrospectively awarded meaning to Moses.   The method modelled by Jesus and His Apostles has been to declare the inherent Messianic proclamation of all Biblical revelation.  Luther is completely in line with this as he repeatedly champions Genesis 3:15, not simply here, but throughout his work.  Yet this confidence in the protevangelium has sounded ‘incautious’ and ‘unreal’ to more modern ears.”


In similar vein, Nathan Pitchford muses the following in his article “The Reformers’ Hermeneutic: Grammatical, Historical, and Christ-centered”:


What exactly do I mean when I say that many evangelicals demonstrate “a basically un-Christian reading of much of the Old Testament”? Simply put, I mean they employ a hermeneutic that does not have as its goal to trace every verse to its ultimate reference point: the cross of Christ. All of creation, history, and reality was designed for the purpose of the unveiling and glorification of the triune God, by means of the work of redemption accomplished by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The bible is simply the book that tells us how to see Christ and his cross at the center of everything. It tells us who God is by showing us the person and work of Christ, who alone reveals the invisible God. If we do not intentionally ask ourselves, “How may I see Christ more clearly by this passage,” in our reading of every verse of scripture, then we are not operating under the guidance of Luther’s grammatical-historical hermeneutic. If we would follow in the steps of the reformers, we must realize that a literal reading of scriptures does not mean a naturalistic reading. A naturalistic reading says that the full extent of meaning in the account of Moses’ striking the rock is apprehended in understanding the historical event. The literal reading, in the Christ-centered sense of the Reformation, recognizes that this historical account is meaningless to us until we understand how the God of history was using it to reveal Christ to his people. The naturalistic reading of the Song of Solomon is content with the observation that it speaks of the marital-bliss of Solomon and his wife; the literal reading of the reformers recognizes that it has ultimately to do with the marital bliss between Christ and his bride, the Church. And so we could continue, citing example after example from the Old Testament.”


Without this literal reading of David’s story, we will forget why the LORD is so intent on David’s son building for Him the eternal kingdom – the Christ of 2 Samuel 7 is not Solomon.  2 Samuel 7:14 very much stresses that Solomon as mere man will fall and that Israel will fall into darkness just as pre-creation was chaotic waters; but the God-man Jesus of Isaiah 7:14 born of the virgin and also a son of David is the heir to the Father’s kingdom.  Yet – 2 Samuel 7:14 is not merely a pronouncement of judgment on Solomon – but it is also a pronouncement of the Father’s wrath on the Son on the cross, and what we see following here in the three risen satans is but a shadow of what occurs on the mount of Moriah where the Christ was taunted by the enemy for bearing our sins upon himself (2 Corinthians 5:21).


9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because(I) his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel,(J) who had appeared to him twice 10and(K) had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 11Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you,(L) I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13However,(M) I will not tear away all the kingdom, but(N) I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem(O) that I have chosen.”


And it is thus unsurprising that the LORD was angry with Solomon, in contrast with the Father being ‘well pleased’ with the true son of David (Luke 3:22), Jesus Christ.  Despite the Son of God’s appearance to Solomon as the visible LORD (Colossians 1:15-16) twice (1 Kings 3:5, 9:2), just as the Father had explicitly spoke His Word of Love for the Eternal Word twice in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 3:17, 17:5).  The failure of Solomon is the implied failure of Christ, should that happen – and thus the kingdom of God is to be displaced out of the hand of Christ should He have failed and chosen not to be the sacrificial lamb on the cross (c.f. Genesis 22:8).  Yet – v.12 is the crucial verse that differentiates Solomon as human and typological king of Jesus – for the Father had already elected Christ through the tribe of David, for the sake of the city of peace.  Christ has always been the elected offspring of David, eternal Son of the Father, to do the Father’s work of recapitulation (Revelation 13:8).  As Adam Clarke stresses:

The line of the Messiah must be preserved. The prevailing lion must come out of the tribe of Judah: not only the tribe must be preserved, but the regal line and the regal right. All this must be done for the true David‘s sake: and this was undoubtedly what God had in view by thus miraculously preserving the tribe of Judah and the royal line, in the midst of so general a defection.

As David was a type of the Messiah, so was Jerusalem a type of the true Church: therefore the OLD Jerusalem must be preserved in the hands of the tribe of Judah, till the true David should establish the NEW Jerusalem in the same land, and in the same city. And what a series of providences did it require to do all these things!

14And the LORD raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. He was of the royal house in Edom. 15For(P) when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army went up to bury the slain, he struck down every male in Edom 16(for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom). 17But Hadad fled to Egypt, together with certain Edomites of his father’s servants, Hadad still being a little child. 18They set out from Midian and came to(Q) Paran and took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house and assigned him an allowance of food and gave him land. 19And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him in marriage the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen. 20And the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house. And Genubath was in Pharaoh’s house among the sons of Pharaoh. 21But when Hadad heard in Egypt(R) that David slept with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me depart, that I may go to my own country.” 22But Pharaoh said to him, “What have you lacked with me that you are now seeking to go to your own country?” And he said to him, “Only let me depart.”

It is here that we find a more in depth theology of the ‘devil’ in relation to God.  V.14 in the Hebrew is more revealing, for it states that the LORD Yahweh raised up satan (the Hebrew for adversary here) against Solomon, Hadad (“mighty”) the Edomite (not so coincidentally the same name as the son of Ishmael, the unelected son of Abraham, c.f. Genesis 22:2).  Many may view the book of Job as allegorical (Job 1:6-12) but it is neglected that the LORD raises up satans as shadows of His raising up of the Satan as displayed in this chapter.  A total of three satans – Hadad, Rezon (“prince”) the son of Eliada, and Jeroboam (“whose people are many”) the son of Nebat (an Ephraimite of Zeredah) are raised up in this chapter alone, each are reputed in their own respect (though not standing in the one LORD Jesus Christ).  Hadad’s background is given a full overview in v.14-22 as he hails from the royal house in Edom (from the line of Esau) and witnessed the cleansing of the house of Edom during the uncorrupted early co-operative leadership of David and Joab (2 Samuel 8) when Edom had not been walking with the LORD for generations already (since Exodus 15:15; Numbers 20).  Instead, this alliance of Egypt and Edom is an abomination in the sight of the LORD, but what greater insult is this that an adversary of such an abominable alliance is raised to be a thorn in Solomon’s side!  And similarly, Rezon – like Hadad – sought to repay David what was done to Zobah and Edom during 2 Samuel 8:

23God also raised up as an adversary to him, Rezon the son of Eliada, who had fled from his master(S) Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24And he gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band,(T) after the killing by David. And they went to Damascus and lived there and made him king in Damascus. 25He was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing harm as Hadad did. And he loathed Israel and reigned over Syria.

As a restoration of the unholy alliance of Syria and Zobah in 2 Samuel 8, here we have Rezon fleeing from his master Hadadezer to re-bond this alliance by becoming a king in Damascus.  What David had undone is now restored with a stronger bond as a rebellion against the Son of God (Psalm 2).  And Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, rebelled against the son of David for the purpose of Ahijah’s (friend of Jehovah one of the three major chroniclers of Solomon’s era – 2 Chronicles 9:29), prophecy:

26(U) Jeroboam the son of Nebat,(V) an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also(W) lifted up his hand against the king. 27And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king.(X) Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father. 28The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet(Y) Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. 30Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him,(Z) and tore it into twelve pieces. 31And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold,(AA) I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes 32(but(AB) he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem,(AC) the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), 33because they have[a] forsaken me(AD) and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did. 34Nevertheless, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes. 35(AE) But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you, ten tribes. 36Yet to his son(AF) I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have(AG) a lamp before me in Jerusalem,(AH) the city where I have chosen to put my name. 37And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did,(AI) I will be with you and(AJ) will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39And I will afflict the offspring of David because of this, but not forever.'” 40Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, to(AK) Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

It is most ironic that this man from Shiloh, a place of rest in Ephraim, pronounces the history changing split between the kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes) and the kingdom of Judah (the one tribe) – yet it is also in this distinction we find the ruling line through Judah, the one son of David, redeeming all twelve tribes under his cruciform work.

So v.26-40 is a prophecy of the remainder of the Old Testament, that David’s name shall remain in Judah and that the rest of Israel (in the 10 tribes) shall be temporarily led by Jeroboam but only to be scattered – and thus the one lamp before the LORD in Jerusalem is found in the city where HE has chosen to put His name (v.36).  V.38 provides a condition for Jeroboam to fulfill – that if he were to walk in the LORD’s ways, doing what is right in His eyes by keeping His statutes and commandments, He would have been with him and would have built Jeroboam a sure house (v.38-39).  Yet, even if such a sure house were to be built for Jeroboam, as He had built for David, but it is sure that the promised offspring and Messiah would still be elected to be born through the tribe of Judah in the line of David.  It is interesting how the LORD has already set His sight and plans on Jerusalem for that is where both Yahweh and the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12) join to be the lamp (Revelation 21:23) of the world (Matthew 5:14).  This alliance with Egypt, with Shishak, is a reversal of the great exodus as delineated in 2 Chronicles 12 when Shishak takes away the treasures of both the house of the LORD and the king’s house.  2 Chronicles 12:9 simply states – “he took away everything”.  Israel’s climactic geopolitical reign is coming to an end, as the LORD is preparing for the true Spiritual awakening to come in the wake of Jesus, leading a kingdom not limited by the confines of Canaan, but a kingdom of the invisible church in new creation.

41(AL) Now 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? 42And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43And Solomon(AM) slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And(AN) Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.

Thus, 1 Kings 11 ends soberly on the death of Solomon.  Did the narrator record a glorious and triumphant funeral for this king who introduced a golden age (beginning with the temple of God)?  Did Solomon repent of his ways, which led to worship of “…Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites” (v.33) and directly causing the downfall of Israel?  Neither are recorded in 1 Kings, nor is it the interest of the narrator.  Instead, Solomon’s death is marked not by his achievements, but by the lingering promise of the LORD reaffirming that there will forever be a lamp in Jerusalem for the sake of the root of Jesse – for it is the root of Jesse who shall redeem Israel from Egypt, from Syria, from the surrounding Satan.  We see Solomon’s repentance throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, reaching the climactic praise in Ecclesiastes 12 – yet here, we are brought to visit the vision of the sinful son of David, our Christ who was crucified by Satan represented by these three satans akin to the three temptations in the wilderness, yet fulfilling the prophecy of the Father that though this be a rod upon the son of David – this striking is still done out of divine steadfast love which will not depart this son of David (2 Samuel 7:14-15).  So we end on a note of the literal David, and the literal son of David – both proclaiming the Messiah who has come and has won:

“He assures him [Hadad] that he shall be king over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, v. 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… 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,v. 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, Deut. ix. 4. 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… 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 told… 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 (v. 32), and again (v. 36), That David may have a lamp, that is, a shining name and memory (Ps. cxxxii. 17), 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 in it… That Solomon must keep possession during his life, v. 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.” – Matthew Henry


1 Kings 11: For the sake of David – Solomon crucified

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