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1 Kings 11:9-10 -

The Downfall of Solomon.

The fall of Solomon has appeared to some commentators incredible. As to the fact itself, however, there can be no doubt. Nor is his fall so exceptional as many suppose. Others beside this king have had pious parentage, a religious education, a promising youth, extraordinary intellectual endowments, frequent warnings of their danger, and yet have failed and come short of the glory of God. Give examples. It is noteworthy that God saw Solomon's danger and warned him of it on the evening of that day upon which his religious devotion appeared most intense. The dedication of the temple was at once the zenith of the nation's glory, and of their king's highest attainments. Describe the Feast of Dedication; the song of the people—"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, etc.;" the prayer of Solomon that this might be so; and the manifestation of the Divine Presence. Contrast this scene with the silence of the following night, in which the message of the Lord came, bidding him beware lest the emotion and resolve of the day should be evanescent ( 1 Kings 9:2 ). Our times of religious excitement are not our safest hours. Enthusiasm has its perils as well as its powers. Refer to Peter's eager protestation, and the Lord's word of caution, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have," etc. ( Luke 22:31 ). The sins which constituted Solomon's decadence—against which, through him, we are warned—appear to have been these:

I. SENSUALITY . His base self indulgence grew upon him, as it does on any man. The life he lived was degrading to his manhood. Love became debased to lust, because it was divorced from purity. Physically, as well as morally, he became a wreck, and though not 60 years of age when he died, he was already weary, broken, and old ( 1 Kings 11:4 ). Some light may be thrown upon his downward progress by the books which bear his name, and which, if not written by him, were declarations of the experience he knew. If the Song of Solomon represents his bright youth, when love, though passionate, was undefiled, the book of Ecclesiastes is the outcry of his age, when all seemed "vanity and vexation of spirit," and when he tried once more painfully to lay the old foundation of the shattered fabric of his life ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ). Compare him with Samson; show how the indulgence of passion destroys kingliness. Even such sin was not beyond pardon. It would have been well for Solomon had he returned to God, as his father had done (see Psalms 51:1-19 .)

II. EVIL COMPANIONSHIP (verse 2). The Israelites were often warned against marriage with the heathen. At times ordinary international intercourse was forbidden. Instances are given in which disobedience to this law of severance brought terrible effects. Some companionship is essential to man. The hermit must be a very imperfect Christian. John the Baptist was in the wilderness, but Christ, whom we follow, was ever found in the haunts and homes of men. Yet under the new dispensation the wise choice of companionship is insisted on, and provided for. The twelve apostles were associated together, as well as separated from others; and in their work they went forth by two and two. The Apostolic Church presents a beautiful picture of fellowship ( Acts 2:1-47 .) It is amongst the wise hearted and devout that we are to find our friends. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." The importance of this to the young, whose characters are not yet formed. Hence responsibility rests on parents, who can encourage or hinder acquaintances, and on young people themselves. He must have something of Christ's wisdom and strength, and must be animated by His motives, who, like Him, would be safe and useful amongst "the publicans and sinners."

III. EXTRAVAGANCE . The wealth of Solomon was enormous. The treasure saved for him by David seemed inexhaustible, and the tribute from other peoples ( 1 Kings 10:25 ), the monopolies granted by the king ( 1 Kings 10:28 , 1 Kings 10:29 ), the importation of gold from Ophir ( 1 Kings 9:28 ), etc; brought immense revenues. The king was proportionately extravagant. See the account given of his palaces, his gardens, and his retinue. No country could long bear such a strain. Increased taxation was necessary, and this was one of the causes of the break up of the kingdom under Rehoboam. Show in modern life the temptations to extravagance and ostentation; the injury caused by these sins to a nation; the moral perils to which the extravagant are exposed; the diminution of help to God's cause and to God's poor.

IV. OPPRESSION . He appears to have copied the Pharaohs not only in magnificence, but in disregard for human suffering. The Canaanites were reduced to the position of helots; multitudes were torn from their homes to fell timber in the forests, or hew stone in the quarries. Even the Israelites had to do forced labour. Kings have responsibility to their people, as well as the people to their kings. God's laws were violated by Solomon ( Exodus 22:21 ; Exodus 23:9 ). Show from history the Nemesis of oppression. Indicate manifestations of the spirit of tyranny in business, in homes, schools, etc.

V. IDOLATRY . Solomon erected temples to Ashtoreth, Milcom, and Chemosh. Describe the idolatries specified. All idolatry, sternly forbidden. The cultus of these deities hideously cruel, dark, impure. Heathenism degrades man and dis-honours God. Show the steps which led Solomon to the commission of such egregious sin.

CONCLUSION .—

1 . The possibility of ruin to those whose religious advantages are greatest .

2. The retribution heavier in proportion as the offence is aggravated by neglected warning . A.R.

HOMILIES BY J. WAITE

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