The temple was finally built! Worshiping God on the “high places” was intended to cease (cf. 1st Kings 3:1 -4). In 1st Kings 8, the ark of the covenant of the Lord is brought in, and the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 -11). It was a time of immense celebration and joy for Israel, who had been waiting on this promise from God since the days of Moses (Deut. 12:1 -14). This was a high point in Israel ’s history. But it wouldn ’t last long. Later in Solomon ’s reign, his many marriages “turned his heart away after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God” (1st Kings 11:4). Solomon would end up building “a high place” (1st Kings 11:7) to Chemosh and Molech – two idols that are abominations to God. This “high place” and others like it would be a cancer in Judah for the rest of her days until the destruction of the temple by Babylon some 350 years later. Notice the following repeated trend in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, all kings from the line of David, all with the “potential” to be the promised anointed one that would come from David ’s house (2nd Samuel 7) who would sit at the Lord’s right hand (Psalm 110:1):
Rehoboam, son of Solomon, reigned and built high places everywhere (1st Kings 14:21 – 24).
Asa did what was right, but the high places were not taken away (1st Kings 14:9 -14).
Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, did what was right, but the high places were not taken away and the people still sacrificed on them (1st Kings 22:43).
Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but the high places were not taken away (2nd Kings 12:3).
On and on we read. Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Ahaz, etc. The Northern Kingdom of Israel would go into exile because of it (2nd Kings 17:7 -23). Hezekiah saw the devastation of the Northern Kingdom during his life. Perhaps that is in part why he removed the high places from Judah (2nd Kings 18:4). Unfortunately, after his 29 -year reign his son, Manasseh, who would be king for an impressive 55 years, rebuilt the high places Hezekiah had destroyed and added even more (2nd Kings 21:1 -9).
Nine times in First and Second Kings a failure to remove high places and, on some occasions, adding more. Then we are introduced to Josiah. A king described in greater terms than even David (2nd Kings 22:1 -2)! Nine times more we have high places mentioned during Josiah ’s reign (2nd Kings 23) and it is all about Josiah removing the high places, tearing them down, and making them unusable again. It would not be until returning from Babylonian captivity that the children of Israel would finally learn not to serve any other god. “Friends” in high places always lead to disaster.
We may not have idols to Chemosh, Molech, or the many other Canaanite gods… but the same problems exist today. Child sacrifice in the name of “convenience” is still idolatry and murder. Immorality in the name of “free love” or “my truth” worships at the altar of self-indulgence. But as Christians who live in the midst of a broken world full of these idols, we must never forget the promise to David about a King who would come, the Messiah. He has come and He reigns from on high! Jesus is high above all high places and King above all kings (Philippians 2:9-11; 1st Timothy 6:11-16). We must bow to God and no thing, no idea, no one else.