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, which were given to Moses on Mount Sinai almost five hundred years before King Solomon’s time.
The first commandment might be interpreted to be the most important one in God’s eyes. As we see how the lives of Israel’s subsequent kings play out, we see further evidence that this may indeed be the case.
The first of the Ten Commandments is this:
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)
Having no other gods seems simple and straightforward enough, perhaps even easy. Yet, of all the sins that it is possible for people to commit, this is the one that seems to anger God the most. This is the one that led Him to eventually remove His otherwise abundant favor and protection from both Israel’s wayward kings and the nation they influenced.
When Solomon completed construction of the temple, he dedicated it to the Lord over a fourteen-day celebration period with a tremendous number of sacrificial offerings. God accepted and approved of Solomon, the people, the temple, and the sin-cleansing sacrifice.
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 and intention that the temple and the line of Israel’s kings should last forever. This will eventually happen, but not as hoped and planned at the time. The reason? Many of these kings and their people would turn away from God to worship other gods.
Like each one of us, Solomon’s father, King David, had certainly broken his share of the Ten Commandments over his lifetime. Yet, David always repented of his sins and turned back to the Lord, and never turned away from God to worship other deities. Because of his enduring faithfulness, the Lord made David His rock and foundation for the coming eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ, who also known as the Son of David.
When God appeared to Solomon the second time, He gave him both 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.’ 1 Kings 9:4-5 (NKJV)
Unfortunately, most of Israel’s line of kings, including even Solomon in his latter days, would fail to follow the Lord and would turn 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 earth to reign in that position, extending its rule to over the entire world. 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 a 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)
As God already knew, and what Solomon might have suspected, is that this would come to pass. It did so when Judah was defeated and carried off to Babylon because they had abandoned the Lord and worshiped the gods of their neighbors instead, despite repeated pleadings and warnings through God’s prophets. The temple would then be destroyed, and those who passed by would ask why God would abandon the people in such a way.
God provided the answer 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 passions, and our energies. Before long, we find we have totally turned away from the Lord, giving Him no thought or attention, as we devote our hearts and lives to another god or idol or pursuit of infinitely less worth.
21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 1 Samuel 12:21 (ESV)
Where am I in danger of turning my back on God and devoting my heart to another false god, power, spirit, idol, or distraction in my life? Close examination will show that these pale in comparison to the blessings and rich benefits of worshiping Almighty God.
Father God, turn my heart back to You wherever I have allowed it to stray towards the “worship” of another. Remove the worthless idols in my life that are doing harm and creating a wedge between You and I. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.