1 Kings 11:26-43 – Time to Reflect: What’s Your Story Mornin’ Glory?

Posted: January 1, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 11: 26-43

The Conclusion of Solomon’s Reign

As we begin the new year…yes, another one is here! …, it is often a time to look back and reflect. What’s your story, mornin’ glory?

It reminds me of the time back in 2011 when I was applying to seminary at North Greenville University and had to write my own spiritual biography – my personal life history about my road to the cross and beyond. Every once in a while since that I have updated it to bring up to the present day. When you write your own biography with an eye toward how you came to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord can be an eye-opening experience.

So often in life, we tend to blame the state of our lives on other people or on circumstances beyond our control or both at the same time. The writing of my life biography was a humbling experience to say the least. What comes out of writing about your life’s journey to the cross, the scales slowly being removed from your eyes as the Holy Spirit does surgery on our souls, and how we become slowly more and more useful to the kingdom of God is that certain themes develop. It can be horrifying and uplifting at the same time. When we are truly honest to ourselves about the history of our lives, we will at times be horrified at the person we used to be before Jesus Christ. When we are truly honest to ourselves about the history of our lives, we can see the changes wrought be the Holy Spirit in us and that can be uplifting as well.

In writing my own spiritual history, one of the themes that came out was that I was an “approval junkie”. I was addicted to the approval of others. I grew up as the child of a preacher in the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC). Because of the itinerant, connectional system of the UMC, we moved a lot as I was growing up. To give you an idea of how often we moved, here is the list from birth until I moved out of my parents house at age 18 when I got married the first time:

August 1962 (birth) – June 1963 – Lamar, SC

June 1963 – June 1966 – Anderson, SC

June 1966 – June 1968 – Walhalla, SC

June 1968 – June 1970 – Rembert, SC

June 1970 – June 1972 – Hartsville, SC

June 1972 – June 1974 – Elgin, SC

June 1974 – June 1976 – Anderson, SC

June 1976 – June 1980 – Travelers Rest, SC

That’s a lot of moving. The UMC is not so quick to move pastors these days but back in those days, it was rare for a pastor to serve longer than 4 years at a single appointment. It is more common now but not then. As you can see, the frequent moves created an ever-changing landscape of people, places and things flashing into and out of my life. The aim for me was always to be able to fit and BELONG. I was addicted to belonging, to fitting in. That meant that I defined myself by what others thought of me. That background extended into my teenage and adult years. As an adult, I particularly defined myself by  what the woman in my life thought of me. I lived my life for the approval and what I perceived as belonging and love. When you define yourself by others, you live a rollercoaster life. You live and die by what others think of you. You get yourself into relationships just based on the fact that somebody gave you approval rather than whether they were the person God intended you to be with. Although it was insecurity, insecurity is a kind of pride. Insecurity makes you see everything in how it affects you just as pride does. Insecurity is the same as pride but just the opposite of the same coin.

Before we come to Christ, we tend to blame others for the state of our lives. We blame past wives. We blame past situations. But when we are mature enough in Christ to sit down and write in detail about the history of our lives, we can begin to see that the theme in our lives are the choices that we make ourselves. I can blame the women in my past for taking advantage of or running over me. I can blame certain circumstances that were beyond my control. I can let all those things consume me and make me feel like a victim. However, when we are really honest with ourselves, we made our beds that we find ourselves laying in. The choices of who we are with, what we seek after, what we place on the throne of our hearts are our choices. Don’t get me wrong, there are sometimes just bad things that happen to us that are forced upon us and which we did nothing to deserve (such as abuse as a child and so on). But the vast majority of the polluted waters of our lives were polluted by our own choices and actions.

What we find when we write about our life history and how it led us to our knees before Christ Almighty is honesty about who we are and what we have done. We can learn from our spiritual history what our weak spots are when it comes to sin. We can learn where we made the wrong turns. We can identify what the idols are in our lives. It does not mean that by simply writing your spiritual history that you are automatically cured of your spiritual weak spots and that your idols automatically disappear. But it does give us clarity about what we need to submit to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to change about us from the inside out.

Our spiritual histories, sure, can bring to the surface of our souls what ugliness we have inside each of us, but it can also be something cathartic in so many ways. It can help you release negative emotions and angers to the Lord that you have been harboring for years. It can help you sing shouts of thanksgiving to the Lord for what He has done in your life. When I reflect back on my life and see where I used to be and what has happened since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, it brings tears of joy to my eyes. To think of where I am now vs. where I used to be, I look upward toward heaven and say thank you, thank you, thank you with tears of joy in my eyes.

There’s an old saying in Christian circles that says, “God can turn your mess into your message!” That is what comes screaming out of my spiritual history…if God can redeem this man and make him ever and ever more useful to the kingdom year by year, He can redeem you too. If you can identify with my story and it reaches into your heart and makes you realize that you need to fall upon your knees before the Lord just as I did – then – every heartache, every misstep, every mistake, every stupid decision, every wrong turn, every defiant fist in the air toward God and its results are then redeemed. My story is one of what not to do before coming to Christ. Maybe you can identify with that. Then, my troubles and my stupid pre-salvation life is useful to the kingdom. Each of us has a story in us that can be used by God to redeem other lost souls who have been through the same thing. God can turn your mess into your message of the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ. But you gotta know your story.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through the passage, 1 Kings 11:26-43. I thought of the fact that Solomon had become blind to his sins and began to lash out at his enemies – blaming them for the absence of God’s blessing on his reign as king. If Solomon had maybe taken the time to examine himself, he would see that it was his own pride that was blinding him to the ways of the Lord. It was his own pride that had become his god. But he could not see it. He was not willing to examine himself. Pride has a way of preventing us from really examining who we are. Let’s read the passage now:

26 Another rebel leader was Jeroboam son of Nebat, one of Solomon’s own officials. He came from the town of Zeredah in Ephraim, and his mother was Zeruah, a widow.

27 This is the story behind his rebellion. Solomon was rebuilding the supporting terraces[a] and repairing the walls of the city of his father, David. 28 Jeroboam was a very capable young man, and when Solomon saw how industrious he was, he put him in charge of the labor force from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph.

29 One day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh met him along the way. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone in a field, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you! 32 But I will leave him one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. 33 For Solomon has[b] abandoned me and worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of the Ammonites. He has not followed my ways and done what is pleasing in my sight. He has not obeyed my decrees and regulations as David his father did.

34 “‘But I will not take the entire kingdom from Solomon at this time. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees, I will keep Solomon as leader for the rest of his life. 35 But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you. 36 His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign, shining like a lamp in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name. 37 And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires. 38 If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.’”

40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to King Shishak of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.

41 The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon. 42 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 43 When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king.

In this passage, we see that the prophet Ahijah predicted the division of the Kingdom of Israel. After Solomon’s death, in the next passages, we will see that 10 of the 12 tribes will follow Jeroboam. The other two tribes, Judah and the area of Benjamin around Jerusalem, would remain loyal to the house of David. Judah, the largest tribe, and Benjamin, the smallest, were often mentioned as the same tribe because they shared the same border. Both Jeroboam and Ahijah were from the tribe of Ephraim, the most prominent of the rebellious 10 tribes.

Word of this meeting between Ahijah and Jeroboam, and his reaction to it shows just how far from his wisdom Solomon had fallen: he tried to have Jeroboam murdered. What folly! If God has appointed a thing to happen, can a mere man, even one as intelligent and powerful as Solomon, frustrate the plans of the Almighty? Nevertheless, Solomon foolishly thought that he could end the Lord’s plan by dispensing with Jeroboam.

Solomon did have good reason to fear Jeroboam, though. Jeroboam was a “mighty man of valor” (an accomplished soldier) and very industrious—two qualities that make for a strong leader. But more importantly, Jeroboam was an Ephraimite who, as a result of his position managing the Ephraimite workforce, had no doubt cultivated relationships with the wealthy and powerful of that tribe. Given the longstanding rivalry between Ephraim and Judah (Solomon’s tribe), Solomon had every reason to view Jeroboam as a very potent rival to his throne. Indeed, there was more than mere rivalry between Ephraim and Judah. Even during David’s kingdom, the northern tribes of “Israel” were cautious and reluctant about accepting a king from Judah. Solomon’s hold on the northern tribes was thus perhaps somewhat tenuous anyway. They were probably willing to assert their independence from Judah any time they no longer liked the political arrangement, and Solomon would surely have been well aware of this.

That Jeroboam was able to flee to Egypt for protection also implies that the alliance Solomon had forged with Egypt through his marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh was now either failing or already defunct. The Pharaoh gave Jeroboam protection in the hopes of allying Jeroboam to Egypt. Thus, at the end of Solomon’s life we see foreign enemies in the north, southeast and south, and a rival to the throne being given protection by the powerful and influential ruler of Egypt.

That’s the thing that I would take away from this passage today and what the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to write about. This is a new year. It is a time of reflection. Let us not make resolutions. Let us take the time to examine our past year, our past life, and be honest with ourselves. For some of us, it may taking writing it down to see where we are unrepentantly sinning against God. May we look back and see where we need to submit things to the Lord.

May we also look back with grateful hearts for the things that the Lord has delivered us from. May we also look back with grateful hearts for the things that God changed in us during the past year. May we look back with thanksgiving for the redemptive nature of the Holy Spirit. May we look back with thanksgiving for the grace shown us by God in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we just have to reflect on the fact that God loved us when we were yet sinners. We sometimes have to reflect on that love expressed on the cross so that we could be redeemed and reconciled to Good. We sometimes have to reflect on how loved we are by God and how He saved us from eternity without Him through Jesus Christ.

Now, let us enter 2019, with renewed hearts and renewed passion for Jesus Christ and making our message His message.

Amen and Amen.

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