A Son Rejects Wisdom

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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 12, Session 4
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., Oct. 2022.
Summary and Goal
The death of Solomon marked the end of Israel’s Golden Age, the United Kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon (circa 1050-930 BC). Soon after Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel was torn in two. Judah and part of Benjamin formed the nation of Judah in the south while the remaining tribes in the north kept the name Israel. While on the surface it might seem as though Israel divided because Solomon’s son Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, the seeds of the split were sown long before that during Solomon’s reign. Compromise led to sin, and sin brought consequences that were felt for generations after. But even though God’s people were unfaithful to Him, God was never unfaithful to them. God had told David that there would always be a son of David on the throne. And because of Jesus, that is a promise kept.
Session Outline
++Foolish choices compromise devotion to God (1 Kings 11:1-8).
++Foolish choices come with consequences (1 Kings 11:9-13).
++Foolish choices create problems for others (1 Kings 12:12-17).
Session in a Sentence
Sin against God has consequences that impact others.
Christ Connection
Solomon was a king whose reign was marked by prosperity and peace, but in the end, Solomon’s sinful compromise led to the division of the kingdom. During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of Himself when He claimed “something greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31). Whereas Solomon’s sinful choices divided the kingdom, Christ’s righteous submission to God established a new unity for God’s people.
page 121 of the DDG
On an unusually cold Florida morning in January of 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral to begin its tenth mission. Onboard was schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, and her status as the first teacher in space ensured millions of school children were tuned in to watch the launch. Seventy-three seconds later, the Challenger exploded in a horrifying plume of smoke and fire.
The investigation into the disaster determined that the explosion was caused by the failure of a rubber gasket—an O-ring—that had become brittle and stiff due to the cold. As a result, flames escaped from the booster and ignited the fuel tank.
It’s hard to believe that the failure of such a small ring of rubber could have such catastrophic consequences. What is even more tragic is that engineers were aware of the possibility of failure based on data from previous shuttle missions. Tragically, warnings were unheeded, and the shuttle blew apart, killing all seven onboard. 1
Why are people prone to ignore warnings and the possibility of consequences?
(we are prideful; we believe we can manage the potential consequences; we don’t believe bad things will happen to us)
The story of Solomon is another story of warnings ignored, leading to tragic consequences. Just as the integrity of the Challenger O-ring was compromised by the cold temperatures, Solomon’s coldness toward God’s commands compromised his devotion and the standing of his son as king over Israel.
Summarize: Soon after Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel would be torn in two: Judah in the south and Israel in the north. While on the surface it might seem as though Israel divided because Solomon’s son Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, the seeds of the split were sown long before that during Solomon’s reign. But even though God’s people were unfaithful to Him, we will see that God was never unfaithful to them.

Point 1: Foolish choices compromise devotion to God (1 Kings 11:1-8).

Read 1 Kings 11:1-8 (DDG p. 122).
1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “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. 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
Pack Item 15: Tell them to notice the first paragraph in the DDG (p. 122) as you point out the ways Solomon violated the instructions for a king given in the law and how his disobedience flowed from his compromised love for God. Use the map to highlight Solomon’s imports of horses, chariots, and gold.
DDG p. 122, 1st Paragraph, “In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, the Lord gave instructions to His people about how a king should behave. But looking at 1 Kings 10:14-29, it almost seems as though Solomon used these instructions as a checklist of “Things to do to disobey God.” And what he didn’t check off in chapter 10, he checked off in chapter 11: acquiring many wives.”
· “Many horses?” (Deut. 17:16) // Check! (1 Kings 10:26). “Horses from Egypt?”(Deut. 17:16) // Check! (1 Kings 10:28-29). “Large amounts of silver?” (Deut. 17:17) // As common as stone! (1 Kings 10:27). “Large amounts of gold?” (Deut. 17:17) // What else can one do with gold? (1 Kings 10:14-25).
· In 1 Kings 3:3, Solomon “loved” the Lord, but in 1 Kings 11:1-2, Solomon “loved” many foreign women. Solomon’s love for his many wives and concubines detracted from his wholehearted love and devotion to the Lord (1 Kings 11:4), just as Deuteronomy 17:17 said would happen.
How is our love for other people related to our love for God?
(when we love others more than God, we enter into idolatry; our love for God should cause us to love others as ourselves; our love for others is a matter of joy and obedience in our love for God; our love for God must be supreme)
DDG (p. 122)
Solomon’s love for his many foreign wives led his heart astray, resulting in compromised, half-hearted devotion to the Lord. He didn’t merely indulge his foreign wives with their false gods, he followed these false gods himself. At some point, Solomon left his first love for the Lord (Rev. 2:4), and as goes the king, so goes the kingdom.
· The wise king of Israel permitted and participated in the worship of false gods in the promised land of God.
Ashtoreth, a fertility goddess, had been a snare to the Israelites since they first arrived in the promised land (Judg. 2:13).
The worship of Milcom (Molech) was known to involve child sacrifices (Lev. 20:2-5; 2 Kings 23:10)—he was rightly described as “an abomination,” and the same apparently could be said of the god Chemosh.
There’s no telling how many gods and goddesses Solomon worshiped, being that he loved many foreign wives with their foreign gods (1 Kings 11:8).
· Solomon also built a high place for Chemosh and for Milcom on the hill across from Jerusalem. The text mentions the hill to the East of the city…we know that hill as the Mount of Olives upon which the garden of Gethsemane is located in the time of Christ.
The great builder of the temple for God built pagan altars within sight of that very temple. This is the shamelessness of sin.
· Although verse 4 says Solomon’s heart was turned away from God when he was old, the seeds of that turning away were planted years and decades before as he began accumulating foreign wives. We merely see the fruit born from it here. It is the nature of sin to work on us over time, if necessary (see Jas. 1:14-15).
Illustration: Few things reveal a person’s devotion like college football. For example: Travel to any town in Alabama wearing an Auburn University shirt and chances are that half of the town will love you and the other half of the town won’t even tolerate you. But imagine if you wore the colors of both schools: What would people say if you claimed to be a fan of both Alabama and Auburn? Or what if you declared yourself a fan of whichever team was having the better season? You probably would have an entire town against you. The reason is simple...
...Halfhearted devotion to a team means not being devoted to that team at all. Devotion to a team means you root for that team no matter what and especially that you abstain from rooting for its arch-rival.
Foolish choices compromise devotion.
If a ball-team’s fan is half-hearted in his devotion to that team, is he really a true fan of that team?
If a child of God is half-hearted in his devotion to the Lord, is he really a devoted follower of God?
Foolish choices compromise devotion.
How might you offer wisdom and encouragement to someone whose devotion to God is being compromised by their decisions — or should you?
(turn back because that path results in pain and death; consider that temporary pleasure cannot compare to the glory that is in store for those who remain faithful; Jesus died to save you from this path of compromise; believe that God withholds no good thing from you)

Point 2: Foolish choices come with consequences (1 Kings 11:9-13).

Read: 1 Kings 11:9-13 (DDG p. 123).
9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. 11 Therefore 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, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet 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. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”
DDG (p. 123)
If ever anyone were perfectly set up for success, it was Solomon. He had so much going for him, and yet, he still managed to rebel against God. The wisest man ever, purposely chose to ignore wisdom. So the Father deemed it time to discipline His son (2 Sam. 7:14). While God is infinitely patient with humanity (2 Pet. 3:9), He sets conditions on the exercise of His patience.
Whenever He wants, for His timing is perfect, God is completely just to give sinners what their rebellious hearts have earned and to give sons and daughters the discipline they need. We see a glimpse of God’s righteous discipline here with Solomon.
· Solomon: As a son of King David, Solomon grew up with all the comforts and privileges befitting a prince. He enjoyed the special love of God the Father (2 Sam. 12:24-25).
According to Scripture, Solomon was the only king of Israel to whom God appeared in a dream (1 Kings 3:5). God even appeared to Solomon a second time after the temple was dedicated (1 Kings 9:1-2). Solomon not only had God’s law, he also had more God-given wisdom to understand and apply God’s law than anyone else.
Finally, he had specific warnings from God of what would happen if he turned away from following Him (9:6-9).
· Sinners:
God has given His warnings to humanity in Scripture. We know God’s Spirit will not contend with humanity forever (Gen. 6:3), and we know that it is appointed for people to die once, and after this comes judgment (Heb. 9:27). God is patient with sinners for them to come to repentance and faith (2 Pet. 3:9), but He does not owe human beings any more of that patience. It remains as long as His good pleasure allows.
· Sons and Daughters:
Those who are found in Christ by faith are adopted as sons and daughters of God. Scripture teaches that the Lord disciplines those He loves for the sake of their holiness (Heb. 12:5-11), and this is a demonstration of His infinite patience. Believers should delight in God’s patience toward them, but they should never hang their sin on it in refusing to repent.
Ask the following rhetorical question:
“How do you tend to view the consequences of your sin?”
(DDG p. 123)
Israel’s long period of peace came to an end with Solomon’s apostasy. God told Solomon that the kingdom would be torn from him and given to his servant. Yet even with this stunning consequence, the Lord sounded two grace notes.
Two Grace notes from the LORD:
++The kingdom would not be divided until after Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:11-12).
++The kingdom would not be torn away entirely from the house of David; God would allow one tribe to remain aligned with Solomon’s son (v. 13).
In His discipline of Solomon, God maintained sovereign control in His discipline of Solomon as He raised up human rulers to resist and oppose Solomon until his death (1 Kings 11:14-43).
· The first was Hadad the Edomite(11:14-22), whose alliance by marriage with Pharaoh helped strengthen him in opposition to Israel. Previously, Edom had been subject to David (2 Sam. 8:13-14), but don’t miss the irony: Solomon’s first step in apostasy was his own marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1).
· God also raised up Rezon, who was made king over Aram in Damascus (11:23-25). Previously, Aram also was subject to David (2 Sam. 8:5-6).
· Finally, God raised up Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Solomon’s servant (1 Kings 11:26) to become Israel’s first king after the kingdom divided. According to verses 37-39, God made a similar promise to Jeroboam that he had made to David: If Jeroboam followed the Lord, God would build for him a house, a lasting dynasty, just as He built for David. But Jeroboam didn’t follow God.
How did preserving the house of David in spite of Solomon’s sin fulfill God’s purposes?
(God kept His promise to David to establish his descendants on his throne; God kept His promise to treat Solomon like a son and not remove His faithful love from him; David’s dynasty was preserved so that one day the promised Messiah would come to rule on the throne of David forever; this demonstrated God’s attributes of faithfulness and grace)
Does our sin effect others and, if so, how?

Point 3: Foolish choices create problems for others (1 Kings 12:12-17).

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king. Before his coronation was even completed, the people brought a request before their new king: Solomon had placed a heavy yoke on the people, would Rehoboam lighten it (1 Kings 12:4)? The new king deliberated for three days and then gave his answer.
Read 1 Kings 12:12-17 (DDG p. 124).
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, 14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah.
DDG (p. 124)
Rehoboam showed none of the humility his father had when he began to rule. Faced with a pressing decision, Rehoboam sought wisdom not from God but from other people. And rather than listening to the seasoned wisdom of his elders, he followed the advice of his peers to further burden his would-be subjects. Thus, the kingdom split.
· The Old Men (Elders):
The old men who had advised Solomon advised Rehoboam to give the people what they wanted, to lighten the load Solomon had placed on them. The people’s request was not unreasonable. After all, now that the temple was built, there was no longer a need for the forced labor Solomon had conscripted (see 1 Kings 5:13-18). The people had served his father and sacrificed much; now, if Rehoboam lightened their load, they would serve him faithfully.
· The Young Men (Peers):
The young men with whom Rehoboam had grown up advised him to power up and to keep the people in line with fear and intimidation. In marked contrast to Solomon’s humility, Rehoboam made his decision based on his ego. His response recalls that of Pharaoh in Exodus 5. Apparently Rehoboam didn’t pay much attention to his father’s proverbs (see Prov. 31:8-9).
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 124).
(DDG p. 124) Sin’s Effects in the World:
Sin does not only impact our relationship with God; it is also the root of our broken relationships with the people around us. Sin has infected and redirected the social structures of society, leading to injustice and oppression.
Essential Doctrine “Sin’s Effects in the World”:
Sin does not only impact our relationship with God; it is also the root of our broken relationships with the people around us. Human sinfulness is the reason the creation groans in anticipation for redemption and deliverance from its bondage to evil powers (Rom. 8:20-22). Sin has infected and redirected the social structures of society, leading to injustice and oppression. The distorting effects of sin are visible all around us, but the good news of the gospel is that the battle against these powers will be won through the work of Christ.
DDG (p. 124)
Solomon’s folly led to Israel’s fracture, folly that was echoed in Rehoboam’s choice to listen to the “wisdom” of his peers. Israel’s subsequent history would be marked by division, downfall, and dissolution.
But on God’s timeline, the fall of the earthly kingdom of Israel paved the way for the spiritual restoration of Israel and the coming of the Son of David, the true wisdom of God.
· Solomon himself provided a standard by which his reign was found lacking: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). So it is fitting that Jesus said He is greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31). Consider Jesus’ life in light of Ecclesiastes 12:13: Jesus feared God perfectly; Jesus kept God’s commands perfectly; and Jesus is for all humanity. God’s grace is able to cover all of our foolishness and all of our sin. Through faith in Christ Jesus, He does exactly that.
What are some wise choices believers can make to lift the burden from others?
(share the gospel of Jesus with others; warn people about the consequences of their unwise, foolish choices; invite others to believe in Christ and belong to a local church; give to and serve others in the name of Jesus; pray for others to see the wisdom of God in Christ)
My Mission
There’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” prophecy in 1 Kings 11:39. God had just informed Jeroboam of His long-range plan for both Israel and Judah, with him as the king over Israel, saying “And I will afflict the offspring of David because of this, but not forever.” One day, Jesus, David’s descendant, would humble Himself by going to the cross, and for this reason, God would highly exalt Him, and give Him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:8-9). Now we have the privilege of being citizens of Jesus’ kingdom with His message to share: Jesus is God-given wisdom who died on a cross for the salvation of all who believe (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
Human Kings will fail their human subjects, only God, through Christ, will rule perfectly and rightly.
· How can we trust that Jesus is God-given wisdom for you today?
· What are some ways we can provide godly wisdom for those who are younger in our church or those who are oppressed outside our church?
Voices from Church History
“Now, I say, whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.” 3 –Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Matt. 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Close in prayer:
1. “Challenger Explosion,” History.com, December 4, 2018, https://www.history.com/topics/1980s/challenger-disaster.
2. Tony Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings (Nashville, B&H, 2015) [Wordsearch].
3. Martin Luther, Luther’s Large Catechism, trans. John Nicholas Lenker (Minneapolis, MN: The Luther Press, 1908), 44.
4. Andrew C. Bowling, “1, 2 Kings,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2017), 526, n. 11:1-2; n. 11:4-8.
5. Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8 in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
6. Tony Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings [Wordsearch].
7. Gary Inrig, I & II Kings, in Holman Old Testament Commentary(Nashville, TN: B&H, 2009) [Wordsearch].
8. “1 Kings,” in Worldview Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2018), 402, n. 11:9; n. 11:11-13.
9. Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8 in The New American Commentary[Wordsearch].
10. “1 Kings,” in Africa Study Bible (Oasis International, 2016), 496.
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