Here is, I. God’s anger against Solomon for his sin. The thing he did displeased the Lord. Time was then the Lord loved Solomon (2 Sam. 12:24) and delighted in him (1 Kgs. 10:9), but now the Lord was angry with Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:9), for there was in his sin, 1. The most base ingratitude that could be. He turned from the Lord who had appeared unto him twice, once before he began to build the temple (1 Kgs. 3:5) and once after he had dedicated it, 1 Kgs. 9:2. God keeps account of the gracious visits he makes us, whether we do or no, knows how often he has appeared to us and for us, and will remember it against us if we turn from him. God’s appearing to Solomon was such a sensible confirmation of his faith as should have for ever prevented his worshipping any other god; it was also such a distinguishing favour, and put such an honour upon him, as he ought never to have forgotten, especially considering what God said to him in both these appearances. 2. The most wilful disobedience. This was the very thing concerning which God had commanded him—that he should not go after other gods, yet he was not restrained by such an express admonition, 1 Kgs. 11:10. Those who have dominion over men are apt to forget God’s dominion over them; and, while they demand obedience from their inferiors, to deny it to him who is the Supreme.
II. The message he sent him hereupon (1 Kgs. 11:11): The Lord said unto Solomon (it is likely by a prophet) that he must expect to smart for his apostasy. And here, 1. The sentence is just, that, since he had revolted from God, part of his kingdom should revolt from his family; he had given God’s glory to the creature, and therefore God would give his crown to his servant: “I will rend the kingdom from thee, in thy posterity, and will give it to thy servant, who shall bear rule over much of that for which thou hast laboured.” This was a great mortification to Solomon, who pleased himself no doubt with the prospect of the entail of his rich kingdom upon his heirs for ever. Sin brings ruin upon families, cuts off entails, alienates estates, and lays men’s honour in the dust. 2. Yet the mitigations of it are very kind, for David’s sake (1 Kgs. 11:12, 13), that is, for the sake of the promise made to David. Thus all the favour God shows to man is for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of the covenant made with him. The kingdom shall be rent from Solomon’s house, but, (1.) Not immediately. Solomon shall not live to see it done, but it shall be rent out of the hand of his son, a son that was born to him by one of his strange wives, for his mother was an Ammonitess (1 Kgs. 14:31) and probably had been a promoter of idolatry. What comfort can a man take in leaving children and an estate behind him if he do not leave a blessing behind him? Yet, if judgments be coming, it is a favour to us if they come not in our days, as 2 Kgs. 20:19. (2.) Not wholly. One tribe, that of Judah, the strongest and most numerous, shall remain to the house of David (1 Kgs. 11:13), for Jerusalem’s sake, which David built, and for the sake of the temple there, which Solomon built; these shall not go into other hands. Solomon did not quickly nor wholly turn away from God; therefore God did not quickly nor wholly take the kingdom from him.
Upon this message which God graciously sent to Solomon, to awaken his conscience and bring him to repentance, we have reason to hope that he humbled himself before God, confessed his sin, begged pardon, and returned to his duty, that he then published his repentance in the book of Ecclesiastes, where he bitterly laments his own folly and madness (1 Kgs. 7:25, 26), and warns others to take heed of the like evil courses, and to fear God and keep his commandments, in consideration of the judgment to come, which, it is likely, had made him tremble, as it did Felix. That penitential sermon was as true an indication of a heart broken for sin and turned from it as David’s penitential psalms were, though of another nature. God’s grace in his people works variously. Thus, though Solomon fell, he was not utterly cast down; what God had said to David concerning him was fulfilled: I will chasten him with the rod of men, but my mercy shall not depart from him, 2 Sam. 7:14, 15. Though God may suffer those whom he loves to fall into sin, he will not suffer them to lie still in it. Solomon’s defection, though it was much his reproach and a great blemish to his personal character, yet did not so far break in upon the character of his reign but that it was afterwards made the pattern of a good reign, 2 Chron. 11:17; where the kings are said to have done well, while they walked in the way of David and Solomon. But, though we have all this reason to hope he repented and found mercy, yet the Holy Ghost did not think fit expressly to record his recovery, but left it doubtful, for warning to others not to sin upon presumption of repenting, for it is but a peradventure whether God will give them repentance, or, if he do, whether he will give the evidence of it to themselves or others. Great sinners may recover themselves and have the benefit of their repentance, and yet be denied both the comfort and credit of it; the guilt may be taken away, and yet not the reproach.