Seventeenth in the Solomon Series
One meaning of the word prayer is "to estimate, assess," for when we pray, we reflect on our lives and how we may bring our behavior or decisions in line with God's laws. Praying helps us build our relationship with the Lord and keep to his narrow way that leads to eternal life.
Evidently, Solomon had not prayed to "judge self" as his harem increased, though he may have said general prayers of praise and rote intercessory prayers for his people. He had lost touch with God's will for his own life.
As we covered in the 15th post on Solomon, his 700 wives (all of them, princesses!) turned his heart away from God, even though the Lord had warned him about this very thing, and he built high places for their pagan gods. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as [did] David his father. (1 Ki 11:6)
That the writer of these Bible passages noted that Solomon's heart was not wholly devoted is significant. Even in his worst days, Solomon was not completely turned away from the Lord. David had warned his son:
Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave [it] for an inheritance for your children after you for ever. And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. (1 Ch 28:8, 9)
Solomon did not forsake the Lord, however, he nearly did.
Three adversaries were raised up by God to oppose Solomon: Hadad, an Edomite (Esau's progeny), Rezon, a Syrian leader, and Jeroboam, an Ephraimite and engineering foreman whom Solomon had put in charge of the house of Joseph.
Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, so he fled to Egypt until Solomon died. Egypt was also the protector of Hadad who had been taken there as a boy when Joab assailed Edom. This brings to mind the uselessness of alliances with our former slavemasters. Solomon had made an important contract with Egypt, which nevertheless gave sanctuary to his enemies. Don't expect any favors from the spiritually blind — particularly when the Lord has determined to discipline you.
On behalf of David, God planned to tear the kingdom away from Solomon during his son's reign, leaving one tribe for David and for Jerusalem's sake. (1 Ki 11)
The dividing of Israel was pictured in the prophecy of Abijah when he tore his garment into 12 pieces and told Jeroboam to take ten, "for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) (1Ki 11:31) (Whether Abijah tore his own garment or Jeroboam's is unclear. Only 11 are accounted for, since the tribe of the Levites served in worship and lived throughout the kingdom.)
In John Gill's commentary on Ecclesiastes, he states that Hebrew scholars explained:
"when Solomon, king of Israel, saw, by the spirit of prophecy, that the kingdom of Rehoboam his son would be divided with Jeroboam, the son of Nebat; and that Jerusalem, and the house of the sanctuary, would be destroyed, and the people of the children of Israel would be carried captive; he said, by his word, Vanity of vanities in this world, vanity of vanities; all that I and my father David have laboured for, all is vanity!''
Yes, only the Spirit can reveal to our hearts what our minds already know. Solomon's anguish showed he had begun to understand that he was undone.