6 … Jesse (was) the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam. Matthew 1:6 ESV
King Solomon died after serving Israel for forty years. He was around 60 years old at the time of his death, a young man by Biblical standards.
Solomon’s reign had started out in magnificent fashion. Building upon the successful reign of his father, David, he achieved everything that his father had hoped for but never quite attained. Using David’s wealth, plans and materials, Solomon built the holy temple on the location God had chosen in Jerusalem. God had appeared to Solomon twice in his life, laying out both the blessings he would receive and the covenant guidelines he was expected to live by. Solomon took the blessings, but over the course of his life, abandoned the guidelines. His reign that had started out so well and achieved such spiritual and material heights for Israel ended on the brink of a civil war for the nation.
14 Now the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was a descendant of the king in Edom. 1 Kings 11:14 NKJV
How the mighty had fallen. Solomon went from having God give him wisdom and riches beyond that of any other living person to raising up an adversary to work against him. As Jesus once told His disciples and the crowd that surrounded them:
48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:48 NKJV
Solomon’s first adversary was an escapee from David’s earlier wars, and like young Moses and Joseph in Israel’s past, ended up being granted the favor of God while in exile in Egypt. He, like they, not only escaped death, but ended up being a member of Pharaoh’s court. To have such divine favor be granted to an enemy of the throne of Israel must have stung deeply. It shows just how distasteful and evil Solomon’s worship of other gods had become in the Lord’s eyes.
Besides this adversary from Egypt, God raised up two more opponents to Solomon. The first of these lived north of Israel in Syria. This nation would subsequently besiege and would eventually overcome the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which forfeited the protection of God because they turned away from Him to worship idols.
Adversary number three, Jeroboam, came from within the Northern Kingdom of Israel itself. He was approached by a prophet who gave him this message from the Lord:
31 …for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you 32 (but he shall have one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), 33 because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did his father David. 1 Kings 11:31-33 NKJV
Thus, Solomon died, having lived much of his later life away from the Lord. His kingdom was then ruled by his son, Rehoboam. The kingdom appeared to still be intact and prosperous, but the seeds of division had already been planted by God. Just as He had delivered Israel from the Egyptians and chose them as His special nation to reveal His name to the world, He would now divide them, in hopes of saving them later. Only by returning to Him in faith would His people ever be able to be saved, and often this can only be accomplished through hardship.
God sometimes permits hardship to come to us as a reality check. We begin to see with greater clarity how He has blessed us and has already given us so many good things. These trials allow us to regain some spiritual perspective. We gain an element of honesty and humility, and begin the long process of backing off from a prideful, rebellious, or self-seeking nature and begin to rely again upon the Lord.
Most of the challenges and struggles we face in life do not come from God. They originate elsewhere, and are a consequence of living in a fallen world. But anything that does come our way only reaches us if He permits it.
God may use difficult times as instruments to help grant us the willingness to seek Him in our lives. The benefits are limitless and eternal if we do. But the vast majority of bad things that happen to us that He gets blamed for never originated in His heart.
Romans 8:28 tells us that God will take any negative thing in our life and build on it to help us and others if we will put it in His hands.