v 34. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees, I will keep Solomon as leader for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you. His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign, shining like a lamp in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name.
Although Solomon is drifting into unfaithfulness and away from God, the promise to maintain a kingdom for David’s descendants will not be withdrawn. The acreage of land over which the next king is to rule will be greatly reduced, but the promise remains. God will remain faithful to that covenant promise made to David.
So just one tribe remains loyal, the Tribe of Judah, with Jerusalem as the capital city. The other ten tribes separate off as the kingdom is divided. The way in which that happens will become clear in our readings later in the week, but this move away from a strong, united nation begins to shape the life of God’s people and make them vulnerable to foreign invaders later in history.
The northern ten tribes, known as Israel, were conquered in 722 BC and their land appropriated by the Assyrians. This was in the time of the prophet Isaiah. The Assyrians however failed to take Jerusalem, so Judah remained a free kingdom. It was not until 586 BC that Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, when Solomon’s great temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
A great deal of this sad history has its roots in the selfish life of Solomon as he slipped away from following God.