Lesson 3

The Rise and Fall of the House of Solomon

(1 Kings 4, 6, 7, & 11)
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Introduction: Last week we saw King Solomon off to a glorious start in his Kingdom. He was firmly in charge, he had answered "God's quiz" correctly, and God had promised him a great future and a long life - if he obeyed. This week we take a sample of how it all worked out. Let's jump into our story!

  1. The Food

    1. Read 1 Kings 4:21&24. How are things going for Solomon as King?

      1. Read Genesis 15:18. What has happened to God's promise to Abraham? ( 1 Kings 4:21 basically maps out the large area promised by God to Abraham. The Philistines were on the west, "the River" is the Euphrates on the east, and Egypt is on the south. God's promise to Abraham has been fulfilled.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 4:22-23. How did Solomon eat? (Indulgently)

      1. People always point to Daniel and tell me about his "ten-day vegetable diet" which made him and his buddies smarter than anyone else. (See Daniel 1) Why does no one mention to me the diet of the smartest guy that ever lived?

        1. Is this a selective memory problem?

    3. Read 1 Kings 4:20&25. How did Solomon's subjects live?

      1. What is the meaning of the phrase "each man under his own vine and fig tree?"

      2. Read Micah 4:3-4. What is Micah picturing here? (We consider this a Messianic prophecy, and a picture of the earth made new!)

      3. Did Solomon's reign fulfill this prophecy of Micah 4 (and Zechariah 3:10)? (It surely fulfilled it in part. Previously, I thought these prophecies about the future of Israel had not been fulfilled. But, this phrase "each man under his own vine and fig tree" is the very wording of the prophecies. The idea is one of safety and security. You are able to live on your own land (don't have to live in a walled city), you are able to eat the product of your own labors (don't have to worry about raiders) and you own your own property that provides you with enough to eat. Sounds like peace, private ownership and prosperity.)

    4. Between the description of Solomon's diet and the report of the food of the people, we have a lot of discussion about eating. Why is that? Is eating a source of pleasure and happiness? (It is. More than that, this is a practical way to paint a picture of a people who had relative wealth and security.)

  2. The Instruction

    1. Read 1 Kings 4:30, 33-34. Remember last week we discussed Solomon's request for wisdom to govern his people? What kind of wisdom did God give Solomon?

      1. Was Solomon's wisdom limited to being a wise governor?

      2. What does Solomon sound like? (He sounds like a one-man university! The knowledge described in these verses is in the area of science. This shows God gave him far more wisdom than just in the area of governance.)

    2. We often think of science being opposed to God. Why do you think the Bible specifically mentions the breadth of Solomon's learning and wisdom in the area of science? (True science and true religion support each other. I believe the reason why God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding in this area is because he shared with the kings of the world the knowledge of the true God. This knowledge is reflected in nature. My view is that if you want to prove the existence of God, you start with the creation.)

  3. The Temple

    1. Read 1 Kings 6:1-2. Anyone up on their cubits? How big a temple did Solomon build? (Barnes Notes says that there is some doubt about the length of the ancient cubit. The estimates vary by nearly eight inches. However, whether you take the "long cubit" or the "short cubit" the building is not very big. Using the "long cubit," it is less than 120 feet long and less than 35 feet wide according to Barnes. The NIV Study Bible notes, apparently using the "short cubit," say the temple is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 6:18, 20-22, 29-30. How do you think this place looked?

      1. Would "lavish" come to mind? How about "expensive?"

      2. What about the poor people in Ethiopia? (I say "Ethiopia" because that was what American parents said when I was a kid. Any time you were going to be extravagant as a kid, parents would remind you that you might instead send some of the money to a starving child in Ethiopia.)

      3. Is a lavish church OK?

    3. Read 1 Kings 6:38. It took seven years to build this small structure. Why? (This shows, as much as anything else, the detail and care with which it was built. This must have been something to see. Gold on the floors!)

    4. Read 1 Kings 7:1-2, 8. Solomon seems to have build several palaces. The first palace that is described has twice the "footprint" of the temple and takes almost twice as long to build. What is your reaction to that? (At least Solomon built God's temple first.)

      1. Is it OK to have a great house if you can afford it?

      2. Is it OK to have a "better" house than the church that you attend?

    5. Read 1 Kings 9:1-3. What is God's reaction to the lavish temple and Solomon's palaces? (God accepts it. Notice in 1 Kings 9:4-7 that God indicates that the verdict is not yet in on the rest of Solomon's life.)

    6. For a final view of Solomon's wealth, read the description of Solomon's royal throne and his household articles in 2 Chronicles 9:17-20.

  4. The Fall

    1. Read 1 Kings 11:1. Isn't this the essence of the gospel -- to show love to others?

    2. Let's read on. Read 1 Kings 11:2. It looks like Solomon thought love was more important than God's rules. What is the attitude of the world on this question?

      1. Which do you think is most important?

      2. Do the two (love and God's rules) have to be mutually exclusive?

    3. What is the problem with marrying "foreign women?" (Verse 2: God warned that they would turn the heart of the Israelite men away from God.)

      1. Isn't Solomon too smart to have to worry about this? Isn't Solomon sophisticated enough to avoid being "sucked into" worshiping false gods?

      2. Is the "foreign women" (and "foreign men") problem still with us today?

        1. What do we teach our children about this issue?

    4. Read 1 Kings 11:3-4. I thought that when you got older, you got smarter! What has happened to Solomon?

      1. Why do you think this happened - that Solomon got into more problems as he got older? (Obviously, Solomon was not too smart or too sophisticated to avoid this sin problem. While the theory is that when you get older you get wiser, you may also get lazier, less disciplined, less alert and more self-reliant.)

      2. If Solomon was not smart enough or sophisticated enough to avoid sin, what does this say about the danger to us?

    5. Read 1 Kings 11:5-8. Did Solomon simply fail to consistently worship the true God? Or was it worse than that? (These verses say that Solomon was actually building places of worship for all of these false gods.)

      1. What do you think was the impact of Solomon's actions on the "average citizen?" (There is a desire in the heart to act like the "rich and famous." If the activity is also "foreign," well, then the pull may be all the stronger. This no doubt had a very bad effect on the average Israelite.)

      2. Our lesson (Wednesday) suggests that Solomon would never have considered such a thing when he was young. Read 1 Kings 3:1-3. What do you think it mean when it says "Solomon showed his love for the Lord ... except that he offered sacrifices ... on the high places?" Is the lesson wrong?

        1. Doesn't 1 Kings 3:3 show that Solomon worshiped false gods even when he was young? (No. All of the commentaries I consulted, including Matthew Henry and the SDA Bible Commentary, say Solomon was simply worshiping the true God in the "high places." The problem was that God did not want to be worshiped where false gods were worshiped. (See Deuteronomy 12 and Leviticus 17:3-4.))

        2. What other problem do you see in 1 Kings 3:1-3? (That even as a young man Solomon was marrying "foreign women." The Egyptian was not his first foreign wife. If you compare 1 Kings 14:21 with 2 Chronicles 9:30 you will see that Solomon was already married to Naamah the Ammonite before he married the Egyptian! Later, both Ezra and Nehemiah commented unfavorably about Jews marrying an Ammonite. Ezra 9:1-2, Nehemiah 13:23, 27.)

      3. How important to the future of a young person is his or her decision on marriage? What aspects of your life does your spouse affect?

    6. Was the root cause of Solomon's sin marrying "foreign" (unbelieving) women? (Read Nehemiah 13:26. Nehemiah says that was the cause of the problem.)

    7. Read 1 Kings 11:9-11. Why does the text mention that God had twice appeared to Solomon? (God expects more of those who have received more. When God personally appears to you, He does not expect you to later turn away from Him.)

      1. What is the penalty for Solomon's unfaithfulness?

    8. Read 1 Kings 11:12. How do you explain the justice of this?

      1. Parents, what does this text reveal to you? (Your actions can affect your children for good or for ill.)

    9. Friend, who you marry is one of the most important decisions of your life. Solomon shows us that even the wisest person can make mistakes in this area - mistakes that alienate us from God.

  5. Next week: The Rending of God's Nation

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