Solomon’s temple was the new home of the ark of the covenant, a covenant between God and mankind based upon the Ten Commandments. The ark contained two stone tablets, inscribed with the commandments by God’s hand, and given to Moses on Mount Sinai almost five hundred years before Solomon.
The first commandment might be interpreted to be the most important one in God’s eyes. As we see how the lineage of Israel’s kings plays out, we see further evidence that this is the case.
The first of the Ten Commandments is:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3 ESV
No other gods. Seems simple and straightforward. Yet, of all the sins that it is possible for man to commit, this is the one that seems to anger God the most. This is the one that leads Him to eventually remove His otherwise abundant favor and protection.
When Solomon had completed the temple of the Lord, he dedicated it over a fourteen-day period with a tremendous number of sacrificial offerings and a great celebration.
2 …the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 1 Kings 9:2-3 NKJV
Just as with Solomon, it was God’s desire that that the temple and the line of Israel’s kings should last forever. But this would not happen as planned. And the reason? The kings would turn away from God to worship other gods.
Like each one of us, David certainly broke his share of the Ten Commandments over his lifetime. Yet, he always repented of his sins and turned back to God, and never turned away from Him to worship other deities. Because of his faith and faithfulness, the Lord made David a foundation of the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.
When God appeared to Solomon the second time, He gave him a promise and a warning:
4 Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
Unfortunately, Israel’s line of kings would fail to follow the Lord and turned to worship other gods and idols. As a consequence, the nation would lose the honor of always having a king on the throne. But God will restore His promise one day when Jesus Christ returns to reign in that position. Jesus came the first time to atone for our sins through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. He will come the second time to reign over all the earth as King, centered on the restored throne of David in the New Jerusalem.
God’s warning to Solomon came right after His promise. It was a very stern one.
6 But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. 1 Kings 9:6-7 NKJV
God already knew, and Solomon probably suspected, that this would come to pass. And come to pass it did when Judah was defeated and carried off to Babylon because they had abandoned the Lord and worshiped the gods of their neighbors. The temple would then be destroyed, and those who passed by would ask why their God would abandon them in such a way.
God provided the answer for them in advance to Solomon:
9 Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the Lord has brought all this calamity on them.’” 1 Kings 9:9 NKJV
Embracing other gods is a very unwise thing for us to do. These false objects of worship can take many forms. Their common characteristic is that they divert us away from the God who loves us and saves us. These gods and idols tempt us and, over time, completely capture our hearts, our passion, and our energies. Before long, we have totally turned away from the Lord, giving Him no thought or attention as we devote our hearts and lives to another of infinitely less worth.
Where am I in danger of turning my back on God and devoting my heart to another god, power, spirit or idol in my life?
What is the true eternal value of that which is seeking to pull my heart away from the Lord? Close examination will show that it pales in comparison to the blessings and riches of Almighty God.
21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 1 Samuel 12:21 ESV
Lord, turn my heart back to You wherever I have allowed it to stray. Remove the worthless idols in my life that are doing harm and creating a wedge between us. Amen