Solomon and Reprobation

As preface to addressing a larger issue in a subsequent post, I’d like to take up the question here of whether Solomon was elect. I’d say the evidence is pretty overwhelming that God did not grant Solomon the gift of perseverance (and therefore none of the other gifts in which Solomon should have persevered).

Obviously the account of Solomon’s end in 1 Kings 11 reads very negatively

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 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. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 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. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 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. (1 Kings 11:1-6 ESV)

Is there any other biblical evidence that would mitigate against this decidedly pessimistic analysis of Solomon’s final state?

How about the fact that Solomon built the temple? True, but on the other hand, 1 Kings 7 says that Solomon put the temple on hold (for 13 years?) while he built his own palace. And continuing the passage above, we see that Solomon also built temples for other gods:

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. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. (1 Kings 11:7-8 ESV)

How about the fact that God spoke to Solomon? First off, God speaking to a person doesn’t of itself imply favor. God spoke to Abimelech to prevent him from sinning with Sarah, but that doesn’t mean Abimelech was therefore one of God’s chosen. And in 1 Kings 11:9, God’s having spoken to Solomon is used as evidence against Solomon, not for him:

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 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded (1 Kings 11:9-10 ESV)

Obviously, God’s direct communication with Solomon was not accompanied with the regenerative power to obey.

How about Solomon’s standing as the Son of David and the ancestor of Christ? There were plenty of evil kings that nevertheless made it into the New Testament genealogies of Christ, as well as other evil kings that “slept with their fathers” (a phrase I have heard some assert is evidence of God’s favor). Continuing on in 1 Kings 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. 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.  (1 Kings 11:11-12 ESV)

So Solomon’s relationship to David does not at all mitigate Solomon’s sin, but only his temporal judgment.

How about Solomon’s relationship to the Davidic covenant? In 2 Sam 7 we find a covenant which is unconditional in form; a royal grant:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:8-16 ESV)

Surely that must mean that God will uphold Solomon? Note however, the vast difference when this covenant is republished to Solomon after the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 9:

As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.’”  (1 Kings 9:1-9 ESV)

This reminds of that passage in Deut 31:16–, so soon after the covenant renewal in Deut 29, that God pulls Moses aside and tells him, basically, “They’re not gonna make it…”

One more possible possible piece of evidence some might take up in Solomon’s defense, what about the fact that God used him to write so much scripture? Well, apart from noting that God spoke even through Balaam’s ass, I’ll leave that question for next time…

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8 Responses to Solomon and Reprobation

  1. Lacie says:

    Edward Young says that Solomon couldn’t have written Ecclesiastes because Solomon didn’t ever repent. Is that not circular reasoning…if the book of Ecclesiastes is itself the proof of his latter day repentance?

  2. RubeRad says:

    That’s kinda funny. I don’t think I have that problem, because I don’t think Ecclesiastes demonstrates repentance, but I’ll get into that more in the next post (I promise it will be before Saturday!)

  3. cath says:

    Completley disagree, fwiw, but will hold off till the next post!

  4. RubeRad says:

    Yes it is kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, thanks for waiting!

  5. Pingback: Solomon and Canon « The Confessional Outhouse

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  7. Pingback: Resources for 1 Kings 11:7 - 8

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