Explore The Bible Study: Compromised

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Many today would consider the ability to compromise a good character trait. Spiritual compromise, however, can lead to ruin because our allegiance to God and His word is non-negotiable. The Explore the Bible Study: Compromised, examines the impact of King Solomon's compromises on his personal relationship with God, his family, and the people of God, Israel.

There are several ways to view compromise. First, compromise could be used to describe an agreement, or a settlement reached to settle a dispute between disagreeing parties. However, it can take on a negative connotation when it involves accepting standards that are less than desirable.

Time after time the Old Testament reminds us of the tragic consequences when God’s chosen people chose spiritual compromise over remaining faithful to God and His word. In the New Testament and throughout church history we see examples repeatedly that should remind us of the dangers of compromising God’s standards. Yet, it seems that the history of spiritual compromise is continually repeating itself.

This was the case with King Solomon. Solomon started off his reign desiring to honor God as did his father, King David. He desired wisdom from God so he could lead well. God not only blessed Solomon with wisdom but with riches and power as well.

1 Kings 8 describes how Solomon led all Israel in dedicating the completed construction of the temple. God appeared to King Solomon after the temple dedication, affirmed His presence in the temple, and promised great blessing if Solomon followed the Lord. But He warned Solomon that judgment would come on Jerusalem and his descendants if the king failed to walk with God and keep the covenant God had made with David (1 Kings 9:1-9). 

1 Kings 10:14-29 tells us that Solomon’s wealth exceeded all the kings of his time, his influence extended far, and tribute came in from many countries and regions. However, Solomon’s reign did not end well. He compromised by taking on many foreign wives and accommodating their pagan beliefs and practices.

As God had promised, there would be consequences because of his compromise. Let’s look at Solomon’s actions and learn how to avoid the actions that led to the resulting consequences of Solomon’s compromises.

Solomon Ignored God’s Warnings – 1 Kings 11:1-3

First Kings 11 marks a turning point in Solomon’s story. Solomon already had married Pharaoh’s daughter as part of an alliance with the king of Egypt (1 Kings 3:1). However, Solomon also married additional wives (seven hundred wives and 300 hundred concubines), probably as a part of political alliances with other leaders. As we examine Solomon’s actions, one might think, “This one is easy to avoid; don’t have multiple wives.” While this is one aspect of the compromise, this isn’t the only compromise Solomon made.

Solomon’s wives were from people groups who worshiped other gods and did not share Israel’s faith convictions. Because of their ungodliness, the Lord had told the Israelites through Moses: You must not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). 

The Scriptures tell us that the king loved them and felt deeply attached to them, yet they did not share his spiritual worldview. It wasn’t an ethnic or racial issue but an issue of faith in God and a commitment to following His words and plans. To put it in today’s context, it’s an issue of a believer marrying an unbeliever or a believer who is blatantly and intentionally willing to compromise his faith.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul warned against marrying unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), though he also encouraged believers to remain with an unbelieving spouse they had married (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). However, they would need to learn how to demonstrate their love for Christ to the unbelieving spouse while protecting themselves from compromise.

But Solomon’s failure reminds us that many things we “love” in this world can distract us from our ultimate allegiance to God.

Consider how love for other things or people might lead to compromise. How could the following lead to compromise? - The unbelieving spouse you love. The children you love. The job you love. The sport you love. The hobby you love. The political party you love.The social group or organization you love. 

What are some boundaries or protections you can put in place to keep you from compromising in these situations?

Compromise leads to a divided heart - 1 Kings 11:4-8

Solomon’s compromise was gradual, but it culminated in the most ungodly actions as he aged. His compromise began by marrying wives who turned his heart away to follow other gods over time as he grew older. This led to the ultimate compromise. Solomon, the one God appointed to build God’s temple, was now building high places for pagan gods directly across the valley and on a hill in plain sight of Jerusalem, where God’s temple was built. This was the ultimate expression of compromise. As the scripture tells us, Solomon’s acts were evil in the Lord’s sight. Solomon did not remain loyal to the Lord.

The king who built the temple for God, who challenged the people to remain faithful to God, who was known for his wisdom that was only given to him because of God, who was given great wealth and power by God, now dishonors God by his compromise.

Solomon’s spiritual failure was contrasted with the faithfulness of his father David. To be sure, David sinned grievously when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then ordered the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband (2 Samuel 11). But he then repented deeply (2 Samuel 12:1-14; Psalm 51). David wanted to make things right when he had wronged God, but his son Solomon did not finish well.

What are some early warning signs we should identify that indicate we are tempted to compromise our faith? How can we protect ourselves from giving in to compromise?

Committing sin hardens us to sin. If we practice smaller sins, we can become calloused toward bigger sins. People do not suddenly decide one day to cheat on their spouses, nor do bankers suddenly decide to embezzle ten million dollars. Instead, such people become hardened to sin through smaller sins that they call “indiscretions” or “little sins no one cares about.” Scripture warns us not to go down this path, but to lay a foundation in our lives with God’s Word (Psalms 1:1-2). 

God’s Response to Compromise – 1 Kings 11:9-13

The passage begins with the fact that the Lord was angry with Solomon.

In today’s culture, do people get offended when someone states that God gets angry when we sin? If so, why? Why did God say His anger was justified?

The text highlights the seriousness of Solomon’s sin by reminding us that God had appeared to him twice. First, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at the beginning of Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 3:5). Second, God appeared to Solomon after the king finished dedicating the temple (1 Kings 9:2). Experiencing God’s presence in such powerful ways should have provided the incentive Solomon needed to follow the Lord; yet it did not. 

Additionally, God reminded the king about His covenant and His statutes, which He had commanded Solomon to observe. However, Solomon had failed miserably. He had yielded to temptation, and now would face the consequences.

God told Solomon, I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Solomon’s sin was disastrous and provoked God’s serious response.

God’s grace appeared to Israel’s wayward king in the words, I will not do it during your lifetime for the sake of your father David. God’s purpose would continue despite Solomon’s failures; nevertheless, Solomon’s spiritual compromise would cost him and future generations dearly.

The Lord told Solomon: I will tear it out of your son’s hand. That son was Rehoboam.

Today many people don’t want to consider God’s anger toward sin because they desire to compromise. After all, they assume, God is love and He only wants what’s best for us. This is a self-centered belief system that doesn’t honor God. He desires His best for us which means we are to strive to be holy as He is holy. Holiness includes striving to live a life deplete of compromise. When we compromise, God must exact divine discipline because He is holy and because He does love us as a father loves a rebellious child.

Avoid Compromise

Solomon’s walk with the Lord did not end well. Neighboring peoples discerned Solomon was distracted with all his wives, and so they began to assert their own independence. 1 Kings 11 continues by describing how Hadad the Edomite assumed control over the territory of Edom to the southeast and reigned there. Rezon took over Damascus in the country of Syria and asserted his own independence north of Israel. Finally, Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who had served Solomon as an important labor official, learned through a prophet that he one day would reign over many of Israel’s tribes. When Solomon heard of this, he sought to kill Jeroboam, who escaped and fled to Egypt. Finally, Solomon died after a forty-year reign and was buried in Jerusalem, but the seeds of spiritual compromise had already been sown. Solomon’s son Rehoboam assumed Israel’s throne, yet lost most of the kingdom his father Solomon had ruled (1 Kings 12:20). From that time on, Israel was divided into two kingdoms—the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Based on an examination of this passage, how would you respond to the following?

Compromise can happen at any stage in life. Age doesn’t matter. Why is this true?

Compromise begins small but grows bigger over time if not kept in check. How does one protect oneself from compromise?

How would you explain to someone who feels spiritual compromise is acceptable, that it is not acceptable? 

What steps can one take to correct compromise?

Be on guard against spiritual compromise in your life. God’s discipline will come on you when you compromise. Compromise left unchecked or uncorrected leads to further consequences that may extend into future generations. Cling to God and God alone, trusting Him for the grace to live the life He wants you to live. Standing strong against spiritual compromise positions you well, not only to receive God’s blessing, but to be a channel of it to future generations.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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