1 Kings 11:1-12:19
11 King Solomon loved countless women from other countries—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites—as well as Pharaoh’s daughter.
Marrying women from these foreign nations helps Solomon solidify Israel politically, but it will be the religious undoing of his nation.
2 All the countries of the king’s lovers were heathen countries that the Eternal One had warned the Israelites about: “Do not mingle with them, and do not allow them to mingle with you. They will corrupt you and lead you away from Me. They will seduce your hearts to follow their own gods.”[a] But Solomon clung to these lovers. 3 He had 700 royal wives, as well as 300 mistresses. And his wives and mistresses seduced his heart away from God.
4 Solomon followed the Lord during youth and middle age, but when Solomon was an old man, these women seduced him into following other gods. His heart was led astray and no longer completely belonged to the Eternal One, his True God, as his father David’s heart did. 5 Solomon pursued Ashtoreth (the Sidonian goddess) and Milcom (the abomination of the Ammonites). 6 Solomon abandoned his lifelong integrity and committed evil in the eyes of the Eternal. He did not follow Him completely, as his father David had. 7 Instead Solomon constructed a high place on the mountain east of Jerusalem for Chemosh (Moab’s horrific idol) and for Molech (the Ammonites’ abhorrence). 8 He constructed such sites for all his wives from other countries, so that they would have a place to burn incense and offer sacrifices to their many gods.
9 The Eternal boiled with anger toward Solomon because he had allowed his heart to be seduced away from the Eternal One, Israel’s True God, who had appeared to Solomon twice 10 and had warned him about this very act of faithlessness. But Solomon did not heed His command.
Eternal One (to Solomon): 11 You have been unfaithful to Me and have broken My covenant and laws; therefore, I will remove the kingdom from your rule and hand it over to your servant. 12 But in honor of your father, David, who was always faithful to me, I will not remove the kingdom from you while you are alive; however, I will take it from your son. 13 I will not take away the entire kingdom from your bloodline. In honor of your father and for Jerusalem which I have chosen, I will grant your son one tribe to rule.
That “one tribe” promised by the Lord is Solomon’s own tribe, Judah. But by the time this is written several centuries later, Judah is the common name for the Southern Kingdom, which is ruled by Solomon’s descendants and actually composed of two tribes: Judah and Benjamin. Ironically Benjamin and Judah were historically enemies. As the tribe of Saul, Benjamin was predisposed against David when he became king, and they continued their animosity toward him by supporting Absalom during his rebellion. All of those bad feelings will change when Judah and Israel split. Benjamin will decide to follow Rehoboam along with Judah, while the other ten tribes will follow Jeroboam.
14 The Eternal brought an enemy against him—Hadad the Edomite, who was a descendant of Edom’s king.
15 While David was in Edom, Joab, the head of the army, was burying the dead after he had killed every male in Edom. 16 (Joab and all of Israel had remained in Edom for six months until Joab had killed every male in Edom.) 17 But Hadad ran away to Egypt. Some of the Edomites who guarded Hadad’s father traveled with Hadad in order to look after him because he was only a boy at the time. 18 They traveled from Midian and arrived at Paran. They gathered men from Paran to journey with them, and they arrived in Egypt. They went to Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, and he provided Hadad with a place to stay and with food. Pharaoh also gave him his own land; he treated Hadad as family. 19 Pharaoh liked Hadad so much that he offered his sister-in-law to Hadad to marry. She was the sister of the queen, Tahpenes. 20 Tahpenes’ sister gave birth to Hadad’s son, whom they called Genubath. Tahpenes weaned Genubath in Pharaoh’s house where he stayed and grew up with Pharaoh’s sons. 21 When Hadad received word in Egypt that David had left this world to sleep with his fathers and that Joab, the head of the army, was also dead, he made a special request to Pharaoh.
Hadad: Please let me go back to my native country.
Pharaoh: 22 Why would you need or want to return to your native country? Have I not provided you with all that you could ever desire? So why do you ask to return?
Hadad: What you say is true, Pharaoh. There is nothing more I could desire, but you still must allow me to return to my native country.
23 The True God brought another enemy against Solomon—Rezon (Eliada’s son) who ran away from his lord Hadadezer (Zobah’s king). 24 After David killed the people of Zobah, Rezon formed a band of thieves and acted as its leader. The band of thieves traveled to Damascus, the capital of Aram, and ruled there. 25 Rezon was Israel’s perpetual enemy during Solomon’s reign, in addition to all that Hadad did. Rezon despised Israel and ruled Aram.
26 Solomon had a servant named Jeroboam whose mother, Zeruah, was a widow. His father was Nebat (an Ephraimite from Zeredah). Jeroboam grew resentful and rebelled against his king, Solomon, and became one of his enemies. 27 This is the reason Jeroboam rebelled against the king: Solomon constructed the Millo and sealed up the gap in the wall of his father’s city—the city of David. 28 Jeroboam was a strong and fierce warrior. Solomon recognized that Jeroboam was a hard worker and put him in charge of all the workers from Joseph’s tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh.
29 When Jeroboam was traveling outside of Jerusalem, he encountered the prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite, on the road. Ahijah was dressed in a new robe, and there was no one else anywhere around except for him and Jeroboam. 30 Ahijah then did something unexpected. He pulled his new robe off his body and tore it into a dozen pieces.
Ahijah (to Jeroboam): 31 Take ten pieces, because the Eternal One, Israel’s True God, has said, “I am going to rip the kingdom out from under Solomon’s corrupted reign and grant you ten tribes. 32 Solomon will still reign over one tribe. I will allow this for two reasons only: for Jerusalem (the city I chose from all of Israel’s tribes) and for the honor of David who served Me during his lifetime. 33 I am giving you these ten tribes because Solomon and his people have turned away from Me and given themselves to other gods besides Me. They now offer their worship to Ashtoreth (the Sidonians’ goddess), Chemosh (Moab’s god), and Milcom (the Ammonites’ god). They have strayed from My path, are no longer concerned with what I see as right, and have forgotten My laws and judgments. Solomon and his people are not like David, who followed My path.
34 “But I am not going to take the entire kingdom away from Solomon; he will be prince his entire life because of My promise to My servant David, whom I handpicked from the pastures and who lived by My commands and laws. 35 Instead I will take the kingdom away from his son’s power and give ten tribes over to you. 36 I will leave one tribe for his son so that David, the lamp of Israel,[b] will always have a place with Me in Jerusalem, the city I have appointed as My city.”
The preservation of Judah as the home of God’s temple demonstrates the centrality of David in His plan. As “the lamp of Israel,” David represents the hope of Judah. In Israel, lamps are so central to daily life that when a new building is founded, often a perfectly formed, unused lamp is buried beneath the floors in the corner of a room. These ancient “cornerstones” signify the builder’s hope for light and life in the house. Likewise everything in Israel is founded on David; the idea of his perfect reign is the hope and cornerstone of the nation.
Ahijah (to Jeroboam with the Eternal’s message): 37 “I will allow you to rule over anything you want, and you will be Israel’s new king. 38 If you then give yourself to Me and heed all My commands, honor My laws, and live by My way just as My servant David did, then I will be near to you and will build you a great dynasty like the one I built for David. Israel will be yours; I will hand it over to you. 39 I will afflict David’s offspring because of what Solomon has done, but I won’t cause this suffering forever.”
40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam because of this, but Jeroboam ran away to Egypt to seek shelter with Shishak, Egypt’s king. Jeroboam remained in Egypt until Solomon died.
41 Is not the rest of Solomon’s story—his actions and his wisdom—documented in the book of the acts of Solomon?
The Book of Kings is not the only historical record of Judah’s and Israel’s monarchies. This book is based on several source materials, including the book of the acts of Solomon, the book of the chronicles of Judah’s kings, and the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings. Although these books and the stories they tell are lost, the simple citation of these sources reveals a lot about Kings: the editor of this book is writing at the end of Judah’s time as an independent nation, the memory of the monarchy is important enough to have been recorded by several independent sources, and the editor is keenly concerned with narrating the stories that occurred centuries before he lived.
42 In all Solomon ruled over Jerusalem for 40 years. 43 Solomon left this world to sleep with his fathers. He was laid to rest in his father’s city, the city of David. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, then inherited the throne.
12 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, a border city between Ephraim and Manasseh, because the entire community of Israel had gathered there to install him as the new king. 2 Jeroboam (Nebat’s son) received word of this while he was living in Egypt, hiding from King Solomon. 3 Then the people of the northern tribes called for Jeroboam, and with him the entire community of Israel spoke to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.
Jeroboam and Israel: 4 During your father’s time, he weighed us down with heavy workloads and caused us much suffering. We have come here to ask you to lighten the load your father laid upon us. If you do so, we will be your willing servants.
Rehoboam: 5 Go away for three days, then come back to me. I need to think this over.
The people left.
6 King Rehoboam then went to talk with the elders who had been in the service of his father, Solomon, when he was alive. He asked for their advice on this matter.
Rehoboam (to the elders): I have come here for your wisdom. What guidance do you have for me? What should I say to these people who are asking me to lighten their workload?
Elders: 7 Serve your people today; do exactly as they ask, and offer them kind words and encouragement. If you serve them in this way today, then they will be devoted to you and will serve you forever.
8 But Rehoboam ignored the advice of the elders. Instead he went to consult his childhood friends—the young men with whom he had grown up and who served him.
Rehoboam: 9 What guidance do you have for me? What should I say to these people who have made this request to me: “Lighten our load, the one your father has placed upon us”?
Young Men: 10 When you meet again with these people who have made this request to you: “Your father weighed us down with heavy workloads and caused us much suffering. We ask you to lighten the load your father laid upon us,” speak firmly: “You think my father was hard on you? My little finger is more potent than my father’s loins! 11 My father weighed you down with a heavy load, but I will make your load even heavier. My father used whips to command you, and you thought that was harsh. I will use a scourge with the sting of scorpions.
12 Jeroboam and all the people of Israel came back to meet with Rehoboam after they had been away for three days. They did this because Rehoboam had given them this instruction: “Go away for three days, then come back to me.” 13 So Rehoboam spoke to the people in a tyrannical tone and completely ignored the advice of the experienced elders. 14 Rehoboam instead heeded the advice of the young men with whom he had grown up.
Rehoboam: My father weighed you down with a heavy load, but I will make your load even heavier. My father used whips to command you, and you thought that was harsh. I will use a scourge with the sting of scorpions.
15 After King Rehoboam had finished speaking to Jeroboam and the Israelites, the king did not listen to them as the Eternal intended. Thus Rehoboam fulfilled the promise the Eternal One gave through the prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite, to Jeroboam (Nebat’s son). 16 The people of Israel realized the king had not listened to them.
Israelites: What lot of David’s belongs to us?
We have no inheritance in Jesse’s son;
Go back to your tents, Israel!
Take care of your own house, David! There is no good news for us!
The Israelites left and went back to their homes. 17 But Rehoboam ruled over all the Israelites who lived in the cities that were a part of Judah. 18 Rehoboam sent Adoram (commander over the forced workers) to compel the Israelites to end their rebellion, but the entire community of Israel killed him with stones. Afraid for his life, King Rehoboam quickly got into his chariot to run back to Jerusalem. 19 Israel has been in conflict with David’s house ever since.
9 Back to Saul—this fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord’s disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem 2 for authorization to purge all the synagogues in Damascus of followers of the way of Jesus.[a] His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus’ followers—women as well as men—and transport them back to Jerusalem. 3 He traveled north toward Damascus with a group of companions.
Imagine this: Suddenly a light flashes from the sky around Saul, 4 and he falls to the ground at the sound of a voice.
The Lord: Saul, Saul, why are you attacking Me?
Saul: 5 Lord, who are You?
Then he hears these words:
The Lord: I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. 6 Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.
These are shocking, unexpected words that will change his life forever.
7 His other traveling companions just stand there, paralyzed, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight. 8 Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can’t see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. 9 He waits for three days—completely blind—and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything.
10 Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him.
The Lord: Ananias.
Ananias: Here I am, Lord.
The Lord: 11 Get up and go to Straight Boulevard. Go to the house of Judas, and inquire about a man from Tarsus, Saul by name. He is praying to Me at this very instant. 12 He has had a vision—a vision of a man by your name who will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.
Ananias: 13 Lord, I know whom You’re talking about. I’ve heard rumors about this fellow. He’s an evil man and has caused great harm for Your special people in Jerusalem. 14 I’ve heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with Your name.
The Lord: 15 Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide—to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. 16 I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name.
17 So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him.
Ananias: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, sent me so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
18 At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see. So he got up, received the ceremonial washing of baptism[b] identifying him as a disciple, 19 ate some food (remember, he had not eaten for three days), and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. 20 Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to purge, proclaiming,
Saul: Jesus is God’s Son!
21 Obviously this amazed everybody, and the buzz spread.
The People: Isn’t he the man who caused so much trouble in Jerusalem for everyone identified with Jesus? Didn’t he come here to arrest followers of Jesus and bring them in chains to the religious authorities? Now he’s switched sides and is preaching Jesus?
22 As time passed, Saul’s confidence grew stronger and stronger, so much so that he debated with the Jews of Damascus and made an irrefutable case that Jesus is, in fact, God’s Anointed, the Liberating King.
23 They didn’t like being confounded like this; so after several days, the Jews plotted to assassinate Saul. 24 But he learned of the plot. He knew they were keeping the city gates under constant surveillance, so they could follow and kill him when he left. 25 To save Saul, the disciples came up with a plan of their own. During the night, they put Saul in a basket and lowered him by ropes from an opening in the wall of the city rather than passing through the gates. Their plan worked,
A song of David for those journeying to worship.
1 O Eternal One, my heart is not occupied with proud thoughts;
my eyes do not look down on others;
I don’t even begin to get involved in matters too big, matters of faith, state, business,
or the many things that defy my ability to understand them.
2 Of one thing I am certain: my soul has become calm, quiet, and contented in You.
Like a weaned child resting upon his mother, I am quiet.
My soul is like this weaned child.
3 O Israel, stake your trust completely in the Eternal—
from this very moment and into the vast future.
4 Wrongdoers perk up when listening to gossip,
and liars lean in close to hear talk of mischief.
5 Anyone who makes fun of the poor disparages his Maker,
and those who celebrate another’s misfortune will not escape certain punishment.