You shall never return that way again…

1 Kings 10-11:13

The Fall

We know from last week that God’s presence fills the elaborate temple that Solomon put so much time, resources, effort, and manpower into building. Now God can tabernacle or “dwell” with His people. “Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever’” (1 Kings 8:10-13). And then this week.. “So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done” (1 Kings 10:6). So what happened? How did we go from Queen of Sheba exclaiming, “Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 10:9) to “Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord”? How did Solomon fall so far? Not just kind of far, but the farthest he could have fallen? And why is it so triggering for me? Maybe because it reminds me of how much I’ve been given and how much I’ve taken it for granted.

              But whether Solomon’s fall feels slightly familiar for you or not, I think there are a few things that stand out to me the most in terms of the events of Solomon’s fall and history. And they might shine a light on the constant faithfulness of the Lord towards us in our own lives. First, I think Solomon became consumed with wealth and extravagance. All throughout these chapters that we’ve been reading, the massive amounts of wealth are just laid out in scripture. “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift” (1 Kings 10:23-24). So Solomon is actually making money, a lot of money, off of this gift of wisdom that the Lord has given him. He’s gotten famous for it. But I don’t even think this is exactly what bothers God. There’s been nothing up to this point in scripture that even mentions God as saddened by Solomon’s choices. The wealth doesn’t bother him. He gave to him as He said He would. “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both wealth and honor- so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings” (1 Kings 3:13). God has warned him that He senses Solomon is beginning to pull away from the heart of God, which is in other chapters not in the reading plan, but God hasn’t talked about being upset with the massive amounts of extravagance.

              It’s not until Solomon goes back to Egypt, to the place of slavery for the Israelites, the place of his ancestors, to obtain more and more, specifically horses and wives, that things go totally awry. “Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt… They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty” (1 Kings 10:28-20). And we know about Solomon’s wives. “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter [from Egypt]… He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines” (1 Kings 10:1,3). Yikes. God has been really specific with the Israelites their whole relationship. Don’t go back to Egypt. To the place of your ancestors. Don’t go back to your old life and your old ways. You are not in slavery anymore. We are heading in the direction of the Promise Land and being together in freedom.  In fact, Moses says in Deuteronomy regarding laws concerning Israel’s kings, and I quote, “Even so, he must not acquire many horses for himself, or return to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, since Yahweh has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantities for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17). How much more specific can you get? Don’t go back to Egypt for horses or wives. And this is literally what Solomon does. So what happens from his demise?

The Result

              I feel like it’s really obvious why having 1000 women in your life that are your property is a problem, but what does this cause that makes God the most angry? Well, the women are from different countries and cultures and religions, which means they worship other gods. And as Solomon gets older and he “holds fast to them in love… his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 2-3). In other words, he was outnumbered. A thousand to one. This is devastating for Israel, and this is devastating for God. Solomon is literally building worship sites for sacrifices to these other gods within sight of the temple. THE temple, after all that work and time. It wasn’t enough of a reminder of how important Israel’s connection was with God. Idolatry is a huge deal to God, the act of putting something or someone of this Earth on the throne of our hearts in place of God. So needless to say, Israel is not happy with Solomon. Not only has he taxed the heck out of them, but he’s broken this covenant with God that they needed so badly in order to be with Him. They are heartbroken, their memories of Solomon’s incredible father David are all they have left to remember how good Israel can be.

Generational Sin

There’s been something that’s been in the back of my mind in regards to Solomon “going back to Egypt” that I can’t shake. It is actually a thing that we as humans replay the sins of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc. Even if we knew of or saw the sin or not. This doesn’t just happen in the Bible but is understood throughout the different sciences of the mind that this is something that occurs. (Side note: this is a slightly different conversation, but painful things that happen to us or that we go through have also been shown to repeat themselves throughout generations. Crazy). I think it is important to note that Solomon goes back to Egypt, the place of his ancestors, and this is really what starts to trigger a huge downfall in a major way; taking wives from Egypt that turn him to idolize and make places of worship to other gods. But there’s another connection to his ancestors that I think shines above them all. Between the lust of King David and the lust of King Solomon, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In David’s fall, he sleeps impulsively with the wife of a soldier who is off fighting a war for David. And then has the soldier killed in battle so he won’t find out she’s pregnant with David’s son (2 Samuel 11). I honestly don’t know which is worse between the two.

The first time I remember studying generational sin in the Bible is through the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac. While travelling, they both decide to lie to these men they cross paths with and say their wives are actually their sisters, so Abraham and Isaac won’t be killed in order for the men to take their wives (Sarah and Rebekah). It doesn’t go well either time this happens. These events happen YEARS apart, Abraham in Genesis 12 and Isaac in Genesis 26. Abraham has passed away before Isaac lives this out, and we don’t even know if Isaac knew his dad did the same exact thing as him before he himself was born. Even if Isaac did know, he still couldn’t stop himself from doing it verbatim!

My question for you is, does any of this resonate? Have you noticed that you might be falling into similar patterns that have been set up in your family? Do you notice strongholds in your family that you want to miss out on? Or are you wondering if you are struggling with things that your parents did and you didn’t even know happened? Here’s the good news. The Israelites had another King, and so do we. The King of their ancestors and family, that could not fail them.

You’re Not Trapped

      Things turned out so much better for David than for Solomon, and there’s a reason for that. What’s the biggest change we see between David and his son? David’s heart, and it made all the difference. When confronted with his sin, David said “I have sinned against the Lord,” and Nathan the prophet says “The LORD also has put away your sin…” (2 Samuel 13). But with Solomon, things go differently when the Lord confronts him head on. “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1 Kings 10:9). Solomon was not left alone to his own devices as King. The Lord had been with him, reminding him, warning him, providing for him, answering prayers, meeting with him in dreams, appearing to him, and his heart turned away from the Lord still. It’s not our sin that is too much for God, or that makes us not enough for Him. Do you turn to Him? Even in your sin. Do you never stop going back?

Through Jesus, the chain that ties us to the sins of our family has been broken. Personally, I think this is the best news ever because I know I don’t have what it takes to break that on my own. And I don’t want to be stuck in a hole that was dug long before me. If you do recognize a pattern, or a pattern is revealed at some point in the future, I would definitely recommend beginning to make a lifestyle of on-your-knees-prayers over the breaking of these chains in your own life and your children, and your children’s children. You will see miracles. But as always, the most healing, comforting, and first response is to recognize those chains, proclaim that in Jesus they are powerless, and praise and thank Him at the top of our lungs.

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