There are some very dramatic examples of God’s punishment for sin in the Bible. In Numbers, the ground opened and swallowed people whole (Num. 16:31–35). In Acts, Ananias and his wife Sapphira were judged for lying and fell down dead (Acts 5:5,10). But in Solomon’s case, God used a different type of discipline.
God had already described what would await the disobedient king when he made a covenant with David. At that time, God warned that He would “punish him with a rod wielded by men” (2 Sam. 7:14). In this chapter we see what that means. God used war and the threat of rebellion to take away peace. Hadad, an Edomite who had suffered as a child under David, returned as a rival (v. 14). Another man named Rezon, settled in Damascus to set up a rival kingdom (v. 23).
Finally, the Lord raised up Jeroboam, a talented young man who worked for Solomon. He was so gifted that Solomon put him in charge of a large construction project in Jerusalem (v. 28). But God intended to give ten of Israel’s twelve tribes to Jeroboam. God sent a prophet to give Jeroboam the message, but Solomon heard and tried to kill his new rival.
Jeroboam escaped to Egypt, where Pharaoh, previously Solomon’s ally, protected him. Why would the Lord punish a king whom he previously blessed? The answer is found in verse 33: “[B]ecause they have forsaken me… and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did” (1 Kings 11:33).
The end of Solomon’s 40-year reign is summarized in verses 41–43. The punishment God inflicted for Solomon’s disobedience is a stern reminder of how He views sin. Spend some time in confession today. As believers on this side of the Cross, we are able to experience His forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Heb. 8:12).