1 Kings 11-13…A divided heart.
The great nineteenth-century British preacher C. H. Spurgeon once said: “A stony heart may be turned to flesh, but turn a divided heart into whatsoever you please, so long as it is divided, all is ill. . . . A united heart is life to a man, but if the heart be cut in twain, in the highest, deepest, and most spiritual sense, he dies.”
No better words summarize Solomon’s downward turn recorded in these chapters. After all the praise, admiration, and grandeur of the first ten chapters, we now run into an ominous “however” in 1 Kings 11. By explicitly disobeying God’s commands about taking wives from the surrounding pagan regions, a slow change occurs. Solomon was turned “after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God.”
In fact, the language of Scripture is carefully chosen. We read that Solomon “loved many foreign women,” and goes on to record that “Solomon held fast [literally “clung”] to them in love” (1 Kings 11:2). These are the same Hebrew words used in Deuteronomy to prescribe the loyalty a human should have toward God. Deuteronomy 11:22, for example, calls for us “to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to hold fast to him” (Deut. 6:5; 10:20).
Solomon did not simply wake up and decide out of the blue to do “evil in the eyes of the Lord” and build high places for foreign gods. Rather, his singular love for God was slowly replaced with other loves. A heart once devoted to the Lord had become a divided heart.
God’s response underscores this change in Solomon. His anger was precisely because Solomon’s heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel. Although there was an element of mercy in the judgment against Solomon, his failure to heed God’s explicit commands resulted in a divided heart and, eventually, a divided kingdom.
The idol of companionship is a dangerous one because it feels right to us. However, when we let our emotions drive our decision-making, ignoring God’s word and placing other people above Him, we deceive ourselves.