We live in a time when the defense of sin is that we are not hurting anyone. What does it matter if we do what we want if we are not hurting anyone? This is the new justification for living how we want to live and committing whatever sins we want to commit. I want us to turn in our copies of God’s word to 1 Kings 11 because we are going to see the ripple effect of sin. In 1 Kings 11 Solomon has rejected the ways of the Lord. Chapters 10-11 of 1 Kings reveal that Solomon broke every command that had been given to the kings to keep. Further, the Lord directly told Solomon not to go after other gods. But he did it anyway (1 Kings 11:9-10).
The Adversaries (11:9-43)
Because Solomon rejected the ways of the Lord, the Lord declares that the kingdom is going to be ripped away from Solomon and given to one of his servants. Imagine this declaration: all the glory and wealth of the kingdom is going to torn away from Solomon. The sun is going to go down on this glorious kingdom. However, for the sake of David, the tearing of the kingdom will not happen until after Solomon dies. Further, because of David, one tribe will be left for Solomon’s son to rule over. The impact of Solomon’s sin is enormous.
The rest of chapter 11 describes the three adversaries who the Lord raises up against Solomon. The first adversary is an Edomite named Hadad. Edom was always an adversary to Israel. But you might wonder why all these details about the life of Hadad. The point is that Hadad’s life mirrors what God had done with Israel. Hadad is pictured as a combination of Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Hadad flees to Egypt while still a boy, is taken into Pharaoh’s house, pleases Pharaoh and marries an Egyptian. Then he tells Pharaoh to let me go back to my own country. Solomon is pictured as the Canaanites that need judging and Hadad is the new Moses who will come up from Egypt, return to Edom, and attack Israel. Please note in verse 14 that the Lord did this.
The second adversary is in verses 23-25. The Lord raises up Rezon to be ruler over Syria. But Rezon mirrors David who runs from his master, gathers an army in the wilderness, and then eventually becomes king to cause trouble against Solomon.
The third adversary is in verses 26-40. Jeroboam is a servant of Solomon and his rise also mirrors David’s rise to power. Jeroboam faithfully served Solomon just as David faithfully served Saul. Jeroboam meets a prophet Ahijah who tells him that he is going to be king. Remember that Samuel met David and anointed him to be king. Ahijah symbolizes the rise of Jeroboam by taking a new garment and tore it into 12 pieces, giving Jeroboam 10 of the pieces. Similarly, Saul’s kingdom was ripped from him as symbolized by the tearing of Samuel’s robe. Once Jeroboam is designated to be the next king, Solomon tries to kill him. Once Saul learns about David’s anointing, Saul tries to kill him. Finally, look at 11:37-38 and consider how similar it is to the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7.
And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And 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, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:37–38 ESV)
The point we see from this chapter is that as successful as Solomon is, he does not bring about the golden age. No human can be the hope for all humanity, even with all the blessings and advantages God gave. It does not matter who the ruler is, no one can bring us the help and salvation we need. Every four years our country tries to act like if we just had the right president or the right governor, things would just be so much better. But Solomon shows us that no human ruler can accomplish this.
Further, human wisdom cannot bring in salvation for a fallen Israel or for a fallen humanity. This is important for us to see. We still live in the post-enlightenment world, believing that if we just educated enough people, we would see peace, utopia, and the eradication of evil. While the education of the masses is wonderful, it is not going to change the world or save us from the problems of evil and sin. But with these things declared, Solomon dies. We have seen the rise and now will see the fall of the kingdom.
The Fall of the Kingdom (12:1-24)
Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, takes the throne and all of Israel gathers at Shechem to make him king. But Israel has a message for the new king. They have been suffering under the heavy yoke of his father, Solomon. It is interesting that Solomon is pictured as being like Pharaoh who has made the lives of Israel hard. Please think about how this was not how the kingdom was supposed to be. Joy and peace were to belong to this kingdom, not hardship and difficulty. So the people declare if Rehoboam will lighten their load, they will always serve him.
Rehoboam consults with the advisors from Solomon’s administration and they advise that Rehoboam should listen to the people and lighten the load. If he will listen to the people, they will serve him forever. But Rehoboam rejects their advice and consults the young men who grew up with him. They say to make the burden even heavier than what his father had done. Like Pharaoh, Rehoboam decides to make the burden even heavier after the people complain about their difficulty. The third day was to be the day of the people’s deliverance. Instead the answer given on the third day was that life would be worse for the people. Because the king refused to listen, Jeroboam leads the ten tribes to break away from Rehoboam’s reign while the tribe of Judah remains under Rehoboam’s rule. Jeroboam is made king over Israel while Rehoboam rules over Judah. Notice the words in verse 19. “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” There is a picture the majority of Israel will stand in rebellion against David and his kingly lineage. Only a small group will remain faithful to sons of David.
Rehoboam is ready to go to war to keep the nation from dividing into two pieces. But as he is preparing his armies for battle, a prophet declares that they are not to fight against their own people. The reason is given in verse 24. This division of the nation is from the Lord.
The Sovereignty of God and the Ripple of Sin
I want us to see a key message that is found throughout these two chapters. The first picture given to us is the sovereignty of God. Who is the one who caused Hadad the Edomite to fight against Solomon? The Lord is the one who did this (11:14). Who is the one who caused Rezon of Syria to fight against Solomon? The Lord is the one who raised him as an adversary (11:23). Who is the one who brought Jeroboam to prominence within Israel as an adversary against Solomon? The Lord did it, even making a promise to Jeroboam that if he will serve the Lord, the Lord will make his house firm (11:30-39). When Rehoboam rejected the counsel of Solomon’s advisors so that the kingdom divides, who was behind this? Look at 12:15.
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. (1 Kings 12:15 ESV)
This was confirmed to us again in 12:24. This was from the Lord. Why did God raise up adversaries against Solomon? Why did God raise up Jeroboam to be a threat to Rehoboam? Why did God have the 10 tribes of Israel break away from Rehoboam’s rule? God did all of this as consequences for the sins of Solomon.
This is the ripple effect of sin. The impact and consequences of sins are so far-reaching that we cannot begin to see where the ripples will stop. This truth is found all the way back in the very beginning. What was the impact of Adam and Eve’s sin? Did it only effect them? Far from it! The sin of Adam and Eve are still being felt even today. Did David’s sin only affect him? No, for his sins caused all kinds of death within the nation. Did Solomon’s sin only affect him? No, for his sinning caused the fall of the glorious kingdom God has established for him. Solomon’s sin caused the division of the kingdom. Solomon’s sin brings about the rebellion of Israel from David’s lineage. Solomon’s sinning is huge and impacts Israel for the rest of its history.
We need to see that our impact and consequences of our sinning goes far beyond ourselves. Our sins hurt and adversely affect our children, our friends, our family, and even a local church. We cannot begin to comprehend what our sins will do to our future and how much wreckage will come from them. God has made life this way. There are consequences for our sins. There is no way around this. When we choose to disobey God, there is going to be an impact to our lives as well as the lives of others. When we choose to break God’s laws, we are going to see suffering extend beyond ourselves and beyond our lifetimes. We must see that we can have no idea how far or how long sins will have an impact on the lives of others. Can you see this in your own lives? Can you look back and see how the sins of your parents may be still affect you today? Or the sins of your friends are still affecting you today? Or the sins of your spouse are still affect you today? Or the sins of your children are still affecting you today? Can you see that the impact of some of those sins are not going to stop as far as you can see? What we must see is sin is like a large rock thrown into a lake where the ripples of that act continue to go and go until you cannot even see where the ripples stop. This is how God has made life and we must understand that sin does not only hurt ourselves, but so many others.
But as we end the lesson we need to turn our attention to the Lord. Solomon’s sinning was significant. Yet we see God using his sinning to accomplish his purposes. This is a stunning truth. Our sinning does not interfere with God’s plan. Our sinning does not thwart God’s plan. In fact, God is so powerful that he is able to use our sinning to still accomplish his will. God used Solomon’s sin to give Jeroboam a chance to obey the Lord and create a nation that serves the Lord. God used Solomon’s sin to give Rehoboam a chance to obey the Lord and have a loyal nation who serves the Lord. God used Judas’ sin to bring about the salvation of the world through the death of Jesus. God uses sins for his purposes.
Even more, God is using the failure of Solomon to show that we need a perfect king who comes from heaven who will perfectly obey the will of the Lord to usher in the righteousness, peace, and salvation that we need. The twist is from God. The turn of affairs is brought about by the Lord. God is able to take your life in a new direction even after your sinning. God is greater than our sins and is able to accomplish great things and change things in our lives even after our failures.