DOWNFALL starts with the ‘SHIFT’ of FOCUS/PRIORITIES
April 9 Bible Reading: 1 Kings Chapters 7-9
"But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house; so he finished all his house" (1 Kings 7:1)
When King Solomon started his reign over Israel after taking over from his father David, he did everything that was required of him to do. First of all, he inflicted ‘proper’ punishment to some individuals who had ‘troubled’ his father David in some manner (2:13-46), and those included his brother Adonijah (who had tried to take over the throne of Israel without approval from his father), Joab (who had deceitfully murdered Abner and Amasa), and Shimei (who had behaved wickedly towards his father when he was trying to run for his life fearing his son Absalom).
Then, Solomon continue to obey the instructions of his father David (2:1-9) closely as he "…loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places" (3:3). When Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings in the altar at Gibeon, God appeared to him the first time and granted him his request for wisdom, honor and a long life (3:4-14). "And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore" (4:29). Then, Solomon undertook his first major project of building God’s temple in Jerusalem (5:1-6:37), which took him seven years to build it (6:38).
However, Solomon then shifts his focus and priorities towards himself, and starts building his royal palace at the location that was southeast of the temple and just outside the wall of the inner court (7:1). Actually, it takes Solomon thirteen years to build his own house, which was six years longer than the temple, and indicates a greater concern for Solomon’s ego than for God’s glory. Many Bible scholars point out that the time required to finish Solomon’s house was nearly twice as long as the time for the temple, due to the many buildings that made up the palace complex. Several reasons are being offered as to why the building of his house took twice as long as that of God’s temple: first, extensive preparations had not been made for his palace; second, his palace was larger than God’s temple; and third, he had accelerated the construction on God’s temple but allowed the construction of his own house to be delayed.
However, it is clear that the entire palace complex of Solomon took longer to complete because it included several buildings and it was considerably longer than and more than twice as wide as God’s temple (6:2). It consisted of the House of the Forest of Lebanon (v. 2), the Hall of Pillars (v. 6), the Hall of Judgment (v. 7), his own personal residence (v. 8), and a residence for his Egyptian wife who was Pharaoh’s daughter (v. 8). According to the Jewish historian Josephus, these were not separate buildings but five magnificent structures of a huge palace complex. These extravagant dwellings seem to be part of an overall policy of “nothing but the best” in the court of Solomon. Apparently they were beautiful structures and extremely well made, but the expense of building them added to the temple and other public works projects under Solomon’s reign (9:15–19). This in turn created a crushing tax burden that slowly destroyed the loyalty and goodwill of the Israelites towards Solomon (10:14–15; 12:4, 18).
When we examine Solomon’s reign closely, his downfall can be traced to this event when he shifted his focus/priorities from God towards himself and build his own residence by investing twice as much time and effort as towards God. Of course, there were other transgressions in Solomon’s life, including making a treaty with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt and marrying his daughter (3:1), accumulating Egyptian horses (10:28), and marrying many foreign women who ultimately led him to idol worship (11:1-8) and thereby gaining disfavor with God (11:9-13).
Let’s remember that God wants us to give the first priority to Him and His kingdom that He is establishing on this earth (Matt. 6:33). Let us trust in God completely and commit our ways to Him (Psalms 37:3-6) and He will guide us safely to the other shore. Al Bryant had once remarked in this context: “…It is the walk of faith to trust [God’s] teaching and direction. Give him first place and let him have precedence. This is the secret of safe guidance and peaceful progression. Simple dependence upon him, committing our all to him, obeying him implicitly – this is how to acknowledge him “in all thy ways.”