The prophet Ahijah makes one appearance in Scripture, but it is a dramatic one. When he finds Jeroboam on the road from Jerusalem, he does what must have seemed odd: he removes his brand new garment and tears it into twelve pieces! Hey, you could have just returned it! We soon realize that the garment pieces represented Solomon’s Kingdom, for God said to Jeroboam: “Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes (v31)”. God’s judgment had come upon Solomon in a similar fashion to Saul when Samuel prophesied: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day (1 Sam. 15:28).”
Solomon’s life ends disgracefully, but what of the nation? Besides the pain of fracture throughout the kingdom, the division proved especially devastating for the ten northern tribes. Their succession of kings were not from David’s line, and generally noted for their evil and idolatrous ways. After a little more than 200 years the Assyrians conquered the north and drove them out never to be heard from again. Today, they are still referred to as the ‘lost tribes of Israel’.
Something to Understand:
Two things stand out. Firstly, individual sin has community consequences. The inability of Solomon to heed the Lord’s warnings led to tragic national impact. Secondly, consider where unchecked sin leads us. I suspect Solomon never anticipated his fall from grace and the resulting division to his kingdom. Even small changes in our affections can lead down very serious paths. God had clearly warned the nation and Solomon not to intermarry; not because of the ethnicity of foreign wives but their worship: “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. (1 Kings 11:2)” Ultimately, Solomon clung not only to his foreign wives (v2), but also to their worship. “His heart had turned away from the Lord. (v9)” Solomon’s sins became the peoples, as his divided heart divided the nation.