Researched and studied by HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
1 Kings 11:14-27.
Although Solomon’s was a peaceful reign, it was not entirely free from disturbance. There were no great foreign wars, no civil conflicts, no domestic rebellions, no family feuds, as in the time of David. But there were enemies that were active though not seriously harmful, and there was a smouldering fire that was ready to burst forth when the pressure which kept it under restraint should be removed. Immediately after the record of Solomon being seduced by his heathen wives to the worship of their false gods, and of the Lord being angry with him and threatening to rend the kingdom from him, we read that “the Lord stirred up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom…. And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah… And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, (whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman), even he lifted up his hand against the king.” We are not to suppose that all these adversaries were first “stirred up” after Solomon’s apostasy. Rezon, we are told, “was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.” But every evil that comes forth into act first exists as an inclination, and that to which Solomon yielded in his old age must have had a potential existence in his mind in his earlier life. Old age is the time when the natural impulses of early life return; and if during the period of vigorous manhood, they have only been suppressed by the force of reason or the claims of interest, but not regenerated by the principles of religion, they are altogether likely to come forth into outward manifestation aggravated by evils peculiar to the declining vigour of the mental and physical powers. The presence of evils, either as inclinations or as acts, serve to stir up adversaries to restrain them, and give the opportunity of resisting and removing them; but if they are not removed, the adversaries become instruments of correction. When the children of Israel were commanded to drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, they were warned of the consequences of failing to perform this duty: “If you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein you dwell” (Numbers 33:55). In the historical parts of the Word, especially in the Book of Judges, and in the Books of Kings, we read that when the people sinned, the Lord raised up adversaries to punish them; and when they learned wisdom from adversity and cried to the Lord, He then raised up judges to deliver them. No deliverance is recorded as having been effected in the present instance. On the contrary, one consequence of the king’s sin is announced to him and took effect in the reign of his successor. “He said to Solomon, For as much as this is done of you, and you have not kept My covenant, and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Notwithstanding in your days, I will not do it for David your father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David My servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, which I have chosen.”
The adversaries which the Lord stirred up against Solomon, like those He stirred up against Israel in the time of the judges, had a special relation to the evil of which he had been guilty. In a good sense, Edom signifies the Lord’s human essence, also the strength, power, or good of the natural mind; in the opposite sense, Edom signifies the natural man originating in self-love, which despises and rejects all truth. Syria, in a good sense, signifies those who possess the knowledge of goodness and truth, and are called wise; but in the opposite sense, those who pervert that knowledge, and apply them to idolatrous purposes. Edom and Syria have therefore referred to the will and the understanding; and considered as two kingdoms, whose kings were opposed to Israel, and in particular, to Solomon, they represent the will and understanding of the natural mind, as opposed to the spiritual.
An account is given of the two adversaries of Solomon. Hadad was of the seed royal of Edom; and one of those singular circumstances we have already had occasion to notice is recorded of him: “When David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom, Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.” When all were supposed to be slain a remnant escaped; and this solitary child, which was saved from David’s slaughter, became an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon. No wonder that he should. But the spiritual lesson it teaches may be considered apart from the natural considerations that arise out of the literal history; and this is, that even when evil is rooted out if a seed remains, the evil may spring forth again in all its former vigour, and even grow to its former extent.
When Hadad went to Egypt, Pharaoh “gave him a house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land. And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.” This marriage of Hadad to the sister of the Egyptian queen is something of an opposite to the marriage of Solomon to the daughter of the Egyptian king; so that Hadad may be considered the thorn in Solomon’s side on account of that unsanctioned union. Here was the natural will opposed to the spiritual, and each united to the affection of science, which can favour and support the claims of either, for in spiritual questions and conflicts science can take either side. ” When Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country. Then Pharaoh said to him, But what have you lacked with me, that, behold, you seek to go to your own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.” Hadad did not inform Pharaoh of his object in returning to his own country; probably it was to attempt to regain his father’s throne. David had laid his country under tribute and put garrisons in it, and he may have hoped to be able to shake off the Israelitish yoke now that the mighty king and his famous general were dead. It would appear he failed in this object. Indeed it is said he reigned over Syria; for this statement, in 1 Kings 11:25, relates to him. He managed, however, to do mischief to Solomon.
Solomon’s other adversary, Rezon, had been connected with another of the kings whom David conquered. The account of both the events which gave rise to the enmity of Hadad and Rezon is contained in the same chapter (2 Samuel 8). Rezon was not, like Hadad, of the seed royal. He was a servant of Hadadezer, king of Zobah, who forsook his master in his adversity, and gathered men to him, and became captain over a band, and ultimately ruler over Damacene Syria. The Syrians of Damascus, who came to succour the king of Zobah, were defeated at the same time, and David slew of the Syrians twenty-two thousand; and he put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. Those kingdoms which David had subdued and garrisoned attempted to rise, under other leaders, in the time of Solomon; but however these might abhor and harass Israel, their opposition did not seriously shake the stability of Solomon’s kingdom. This was effected by another adversary, one that was stirred up against him from among the tribes of his own Israel, and from among his own servants, Jeroboam the son of Nebat. He was the provided or permitted instrument of permanently dividing the twelve tribes of Israel into two kingdoms. Of this, we need not speak more particularly at present. We may only observe that this division, as it had its origin, so it had its instrument, within the kingdom of Israel itself; as the separation which it represented had in the higher kingdom, of which the Israelitish kingdom, under David and Solomon, was the type. The distinction which the present history points out between the adversaries that rise against the kingdom of the Lord, general or individual, from within and from without, and of the different results of their operations, is very instructive. The enemies that assail us from without are far less dangerous than those that assail us from within. All temptations have indeed a ground of evil in our own minds. There must be lust before: there can be a temptation; for a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts and enticed. But evil spirits that assail us from without having no power over us except through the evil within us: and if we desire to remain true to our principles, our tempters only make our integrity the stronger. But when our foes are they of our own house, the danger is far greater. When the temptation begins, not from the passive but from the active desires of our own hearts, or from the congenial falsities of our own understandings, the evil spirits, though our enemies, find us, in some respects, the willing instruments of our own destruction, and thus so far their friends. David’s greatest troubles during his reign arose from the disaffection of his own people, and the enmity of his own children to him and to each other. One of the chief objects of the Forerunner of the Lord was to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers to create inward harmony and unity, not only among the persons but among the principles of the Church, as a preparation for the coming of the Lord as the Prince of Peace. When there are internal harmony and unity, outward enemies, even when powerful and confederate, can do no serious injury, but are rather the instruments of good, as they serve to restrain, and thus indirectly to correct, the evils through which they act. Hadad and Rezon, and, so far as their power extended, Edom and Syria, were confederate against Israel all the days of Solomon, or during a great part of his reign, and yet they produced so little effect upon his kingdom that their conflicts with his men are never described, and are mentioned not more than once. The army of Solomon had, therefore, little to do with war. It represented the warlike power of the king for either offence or defence, but the warfare of the kingdom had been accomplished, and the army rested from its labours and enjoyed the rest which its victories had acquired. It was like the heavenly host that surrounds the throne of the King of kings; which, while ready to go forth in the service and under the leadership of Him who in righteousness does judge and make war, is still more ready to convey messages of mercy, like the multitude of the heavenly host that, at the birth of the Saviour, praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”