The Downfall of Solomon (in less than 300 words)

In 1 Kings 1-11, 21 we get a sweeping story of the downfall of Israel.  Israel chose to go after other gods and the things of Egypt.  A key passage in this narrative dealing Solomon is the visit from the Queen of Sheba who says:

…he made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.  1 Kings 10.9

Solomon was called to justice and righteousness and failed at both.  First, lets look at justice.

…the account of the forced labor king Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem.  1 Kings 9.15

The ones who were liberated from “forced labor” are now enslaving their own people. In a sense, Israel has become like Egypt.  Walter Brueggemann describes a contrast system that YHWH intended the covenant people to uphold – system of egalitarian care for the whole of Israel (105).  God’s people failed at such a vocation the day they desired a king to be like “other nations” and continued down a dark path under Solomon’s leadership.  Israel became Egypt.

The purpose of the slavery was to build the Temple.  The place for worship of YHWH was built via an idolatrous method.  Slaves led to cheap labor, which led to building campaigns that caused Queens to visit and awe.  This is where the failure of righteousness comes in.

Solomon wanted to be like and greater than other nations.  He married foreign women and worshipped their gods (11.3-4), he “imported” “chariots and… horses” for military security and thus no longer needed God’s protection (10.26-29), and exported weapons to acquire “silver” (10.29) and “gold” (10.14).  All was forbidden in the Law (Deuteronomy 17.16-17).  Solomon’s idolatry sent Israel into deeper idolatry and violence until it was embodied as complete evil in Ahab (1 Kings 21.25).

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Pages sited from: Walter Brueggemann’s Old Testament Theology: An Introduction

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