Splitting the Kingdom

Posted: April 7, 2010 in 1 Kings

1 Kings 11-12, “Splitting the Kingdom”
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When we think on Solomon, we tend to think on a few key positive points about him: he built the temple – he was the wisest man on earth – he was the richest man on earth. All good things! What we tend to want to forget is how he ended: in apostasy & idolatry. Not exactly the things you’d want engraved on a tombstone…

When Solomon falls, the result is tragic for not only him, but the whole kingdom as the era of the unified kingdom of Israel comes to an end (at least until the millennial reign of Christ). Yet through it all, we have much for which to praise God in that God shows His loving discipline – His steadfast faithfulness – and His all-powerful sovereignty.

1 Kings 11 (NKJV)
1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— 2 from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.

A. Bad mistakes! Mistake #1: Solomon built up wives for himself in direct opposition to the word of God. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 (16) But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ (17) Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. []
__a. God’s desire is never polygamy – it’s always one husband & one wife…

B. Mistake #2: the wives Solomon chose were not Hebrews; they were heathens… Beware of being unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14)! … God had tried to warn people of this through the word (vs. 2, Ex 34:16); Solomon ignored it.
__a. We ignore the word of God at our own peril! When God gives us commands in the Scripture, it’s not that we would be restricted from enjoying what God has created; it’s that we would be protected from the consequences of sin. [Holding Olivia’s hand in the street] God would protect us from apostasy & idolatry – one way of doing so is to ensure that our hearts are not turned away from the Lord by an unbelieving spouse. …

C. Mistake #3: Solomon’s heart was not loyal to the Lord… Whether through wife #1 or wife #300, Solomon had obviously been open to compromise away from the Lord. He started off so very well (re: seeking wisdom & building the temple), but he falters along the way.
__a. Is your heart loyal to God? God searches the earth to find those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Chr 16:9). We want to be of those who not only start well with the Lord Jesus, but finish well by His grace! Part of that comes through our devotion unto Him. …
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5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. 8 And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

A. Listing of the various pagan gods Solomon ended up worshipping. Like an “who’s who” list of Canaanite idolatry. Ashtoereth = fertility goddess. Chemosh = national god of Moab. Molech = common pagan god that received child sacrifice…awful!

B. Interesting that one false god couldn’t fill the place of the one true God. Once Solomon turned away from true worship, it didn’t matter which false god he burned incense to…nothing was truly sufficient.
__a. Only God is the True God! Everything else is a cheap substitute…
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9 So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded.

A. How awful to have the Lord angry with you! …

B. Keep in mind that of all the kings Israel & Judah would have, very few were very loyal to the Lord – but very few even had close to the advantage Solomon had. Not only did he have a passionate walk with the Lord modeled before his eyes in his father David, he also had the privilege of God appearing to him…twice!
__a. We have even less reasons to ignore the Lord & be disloyal to Him in our hearts. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! …
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11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”

A. The discipline of God… He was going to be true to His word – even the parts of it that spoke of His discipline & judgment (1 Kings 9:6-9).

B. The grace & faithfulness of God. Even when Solomon deserved to have the kingdom taken away, God would still be true to the promises He made to David. [] God is faithful, even when we are not. …
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14 Now the LORD raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was a descendant of the king in Edom. 15 For it happened, when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army had gone up to bury the slain, after he had killed every male in Edom 16 (because for six months Joab remained there with all Israel, until he had cut down every male in Edom), 17 that Hadad fled to go to Egypt, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him. Hadad was still a little child. 18 Then they arose from Midian and came to Paran; and they took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, apportioned food for him, and gave him land. 19 And Hadad found great favor in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him as wife the sister of his own wife, that is, the sister of Queen Tahpenes. 20 Then the sister of Tahpenes bore him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house. And Genubath was in Pharaoh’s household among the sons of Pharaoh.

A. Going to see 3 main adversaries of Solomon. Adversary #1: Hadad… Went from refugee of Edom to the house of Pharaoh…

B. Notice this didn’t happen overnight. Hadad had been sequestered away in Egypt for quite some time. This had been going on throughout Solomon’s entire reign as king. The point? Solomon’s disloyal heart was not a surprise to God; God had prepared an adversary for Solomon long before Solomon ever proved himself to be disloyal…
__a. Was God setting Solomon up for failure? Absolutely not. But neither was God surprised by Solomon’s failure…and He made preparations for the discipline that was going to be necssary.

C. Notice also that the Scripture says very specifically that God was the one who raised up this adversary. (And not just Hadad – 2 other adversaries, as we’ll see.) God can raise up adversaries just as easily as allies… [] When you have an adversary, do you place the blame at the feet of Satan, or do you consider perhaps that you might be experiencing the discipline of the Lord?
__a. That’s not to say Satan isn’t involved in this sort of thing, or that we’re always the one to blame. But our 1st response in any difficulty ought to be to seek the Lord & to examine/search our own heart to see if there is any wicked way in us. And if something does stand out, repent! (1 John 1:9)
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21 So when Hadad heard in Egypt that David rested with his fathers, and that Joab the commander of the army was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me depart, that I may go to my own country.” 22 Then Pharaoh said to him, “But what have you lacked with me, that suddenly you seek to go to your own country?” So he answered, “Nothing, but do let me go anyway.”

A. Apparently, Hadad was just waiting for the opportunity to go back.
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23 And God raised up another adversary against him, Rezon the son of Eliadah, who had fled from his lord, Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24 So he gathered men to him and became captain over a band of raiders, when David killed those of Zobah. And they went to Damascus and dwelt there, and reigned in Damascus. 25 He was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon (besides the trouble that Hadad caused); and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.

A. Adversary #2: Rezon. Scripture doesn’t tell us too much about him, but the fact that he’s mentioned here means he must have been well-known to the people reading.

B. How long did these guys trouble Solomon? “All the days” of his reign, at least after the building of the temple (1 Kings 5:4). That’s a long time considering Solomon reigned for 40 years. This kind of consistent resistance from his adversaries should have kept Solomon on his knees, constantly seeking the Lord’s help in overcoming them. Instead, Solomon ended up ignoring the Lord… He ignored the opportunity before him…
__a. Again, how do you respond to difficulties & conflicts? Do you try to push your way through, or do you seek the Lord & His guidance through the word? For someone so wise, Solomon did not always take advantage of his great wisdom. …
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26 Then Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite from Zereda, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, also rebelled against the king. 27 And this is what caused him to rebel against the king: Solomon had built the Millo and repaired the damages to the City of David his father. 28 The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon, seeing that the young man was industrious, made him the officer over all the labor force of the house of Joseph.

A. Adversary #3: Jeroboam… Technically, he wasn’t so much a direct adversary of Solomon as we was of Rehoboam (Solomon’s son), but God initially raised him up during Solomon’s reign.

B. What happened to make Jeroboam resent Solomon so much & rebel against him? Vs. 27 tells us it was because of Solomon’s building projects. ‘That doesn’t sound so bad. What gives?’ It’s tough to say with absolute certainty, but vs. 28 gives us some more clues: Jeroboam was chosen to work on the building projects – given vast amounts of responsibility over them. The problem wasn’t necessarily with the work, though that may have been part of it (perhaps weary from overwork on all the various construction projects – perhaps working in an area that wasn’t his passion as a mighty man of valor). Most likely it was just that he got something new to do. See vs. 29…
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29 Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two were alone in the field. 30 Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, 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.

A. Ahijah prophesies about the coming rebellion & the kingdom split. Very creatively…

B. Take note: this rebellion is from the Lord! GOD Himself was the one ripping the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon (via Rehoboam) & giving the 10 northern tribes to Jeroboam…
__a. Sometimes we may not understand the ways of God, but we need to always trust Him. (Case in point: Habbakuk & the Chaldeans…) No better example than Jesus’ own death on the cross. At the time, no one understood what was going on. How could God allow His only begotten Son to be tortured & killed?! What purpose did it serve? … The disciples found out 3 days later exactly what it meant. …
__b. Do you trust God despite the circumstances He has allowed you to presently endure?

C. Why is God allowing this to happen to the house of David? Idolatry. It couldn’t be clearer… Solomon has broken the covenant God made with them, thus God is subjecting them to the discipline He told them about in advance. Yet in all this, we still see the grace of God reiterated in that even one tribe remains with the house of David. They didn’t deserve ANY of this, but God still gave it.
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34 However I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, because I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes. 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and give it to you—ten tribes. 36 And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there.

A. God basically repeats Himself here. He obviously wants Jeroboam to understand a few things:
__a. The kingdom being given to Jeroboam was not because Jeroboam did anything special; it was the sole work of God Almighty
__b. Jeroboam would never receive the whole kingdom; God would always keep at least one tribe with David’s house.

B. The 2nd point is truly interesting in that even while God is addressing the adversary of Solomon, God makes it absolutely clear what the limits are. God had given His word to David, and God would never go beyond His promise. …
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37 So I will take you, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. 39 And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever.’ ”

A. What an opportunity! Jeroboam basically had the same opportunity in the northern kingdom as David had in the south. God was offering to build him a dynasty that would last through the whole of the history of the northern kingdom. (No reference to a Messiah of Jeroboam’s line here – but there is most definitely the promise of blessing.)
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40 Solomon therefore sought to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

A. Solomon seems to act no differently than Saul here… Jeroboam has to flee in order to hide out until the right time.
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41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? 42 And the period that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 Then Solomon rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David his father. And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.

A. End of Solomon…
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1 Kings 12 (NKJV)
1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. 2 So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt), 3 that they sent and called him. Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” 5 So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.

A. Jeroboam led the contingent to question Rehoboam. Did Jer know how Reh would respond? Perhaps. At the very least, he saw an opportune time for God to give him the kingdom, so he stepped out to see what would happen.
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6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7 And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’ ”

A. Considering this was the son of a man who wrote literally thousands of proverbs concerning wisdom, this was a most foolish thing to do! Here Rehoboam received sound wisdom & counsel from men of experience – men who over time had shown themselves to be of good character & trustworthy. But in his arrogance, Reh ignores their advice (rejecting it), and decides to listen to young inexperienced men as arrogant as himself.

B. Is the problem with the young men their youth? Absolutely not. Scripture affirms that someone’s youthfulness does not at all disqualify them from ministry (1 Tim 4:12). The problem was completely rejecting the sound advice of those who had gone before him. Paul’s affirmation of Timothy did not mean that Peter’s or Barnabas’ advice was no longer of any value. In fact, if Timothy had shown himself to be unwise in the doctrine of God, Paul would never have placed him in that position of ministry to begin with!

C. The proverbs speak often about the need to receive wise counsel & the arrogance of thinking that you alone know best… Proverbs 13:10 By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom. [] … Proverbs 18:1-2 (1) A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. (2) A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. [] … Proverbs 19:20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days. [] Rehoboam didn’t seek wisdom; he desired to have people tell him what he wanted to hear.
__a. Beware of foolish arrogance! Part of the beauty of being a part of the Body of Christ is that the Lord has surrounded us with people who have gone before us in experience (whether in maturity of years or maturity in spirituality). May we be humble enough to receive that wisdom when needed!
__b. Yet as unwise as the young men’s counsel is, this is exactly what the Lord is going to use. See vs 12…
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12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” 13 Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders had given him; 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

A. Just as God used the hard-heartedness of Pharaoh to redeem the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery, so God used the arrogance of Rehoboam to fulfill the word that He spoke to Jeroboam. … God is completely sovereign!
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16 Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: “What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!” So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah. [the 10 northern tribes abandon him.]
18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20 Now it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.

A. If Rehoboam was unclear before on how Israel felt about him, surely there wasn’t any doubt now. They killed the taxman!
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21 And when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah with the tribe of Benjamin, one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, that he might restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 23 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, saying, 24 ‘Thus says the LORD: “You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.” ’ ” Therefore they obeyed the word of the LORD, and turned back, according to the word of the LORD.

A. Like any king facing rebellion, Rehoboam built an army to put it down – but in the process of doing so, God stopped him in his tracks. Instead, God affirmed that this rebellion was indeed His will & doing…

B. The amazing thing here is that Rehoboam actually listens to the Lord! Rehoboam is certainly far from perfect, but perhaps we don’t give him enough credit on this point. Even though he was humiliated by his own people & rejected as king, Rehoboam was willing (at least then) to submit himself to God & accept God’s will.
__a. Are we willing to accept the will of God, no matter what?
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25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.”

A. Jeroboam sees a legitimate problem here. With the split between the northern & southern kingdoms, what would happen when the people of Israel needed to worship God? They’d have to make the trek into Judah & worship God at the temple in Jerusalem. How long would they do this before switching their loyalty back to Judah? How could Jeroboam stop this from happening?

B. The proper answer would be simply this: nothing. What Jeroboam should have done was to simply trust in the Lord. God had promised him the kingdom – God had promised him an enduring kingdom, which meant that the people would never switch loyalty to the south. But instead of trusting God, Jeroboam was trusting himself…
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28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” [sound familiar? Aaron…]
29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31 He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. 32 Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.

A. In the end, Jeroboam does virtually the exact same thing as Solomon & instructs the children of Israel in idolatry. True, Jeroboam doesn’t bring in the false Canaanite idols, but he does instruct them in a false religious system & changes the method of worship specifically described in the Law of Moses. [] Dressed-up idolatry is still idolatry. Just because someone puts a Christian spin on pagan things doesn’t make the pagan stuff Christian. [Angel worship, Bible-idolatry, Gnosticism…] The Scripture is absolutely clear that we are to worship God in the way God has revealed. What is that way: through Jesus Christ alone! (John 14:6)

B. Jeroboam had a lot of power as king, but he didn’t have the authority to change the true worship of God. This is going to get him into a ton of trouble…which we’ll pick up with next week. Stay tuned. 

Conclusion:
So much going on in these chapters! Solomon’s disloyal heart & apostasy…Rehoboam’s foolishness…Jeroboam’s lack of trust. It’s tough to praise any of these kings from what we read tonight. Fortunately, we don’t need to praise the kings; we just need to praise God. 🙂 We can praise God for:

A. His discipline. We don’t often think of the discipline of God being a good thing, but it truly is. 1st, it speaks of His great love for us (Heb 12:6)… 2nd, it speaks of His immutable justice & righteousness. God will always do what is right, no matter what.

B. His faithfulness. Even in the midst of His discipline, God showed Himself to be faithful to His promises. The house of David was chastised, but it was not to be forever removed…and God made that perfectly clear even to the one who would be bringing the rebellion. If God is faithful to unfaithful Solomon, how much more will be faithful to His promises based upon Christ Jesus?

C. His sovereignty. We may not understand how it all works, but God is absolutely sovereign over all things. Even the universe maintains it’s existence based upon the will of Jesus Christ (Col 1:17). Thus we can praise God for even the difficulties He allows in our lives as they help us fall to our knees & seek His face.

So knowing all these things – do you submit yourself to His will? When He lovingly disciplines – when you’re forced to trust His faithfulness – when you must hold on to the fact that God is in control – do you respond in humility & trust? Or in unsteady unfaithfulness?

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