In 1-2 Kings, we have a long story about the ascendancy of David, from his humble origins as a shepherd and the armor-bearer of Saul, to God's rejection of Saul and anointing of David, and finally to David's rise and conquering of his enemies. A turning point in David's story is when he takes stock of his own beautiful palace and realizes that the ark of God is living in a tent. He decides, presumptuously, to build a house for God.
God, of course, had other plans. Through his prophet Nathan, he told David that it would be David's son who would build a house for God. God then created a covenant with David, and in a tremendous demonstration of grace, promised a permanent descendant of David on the throne, who had done nothing to deserve this.
The promised son was Solomon. The first section of 1 Kings describes his rise. In this section, the slow consolidation of Solomon's power is built up. He makes alliances, often by marrying daughters of foreign rulers, he gains territory, he amasses a superior armies, and he extends the boundaries of Israel to new heights. In chapters 7-9, the pinnacle of Solomon's spiritual leadership is reached as he builds and dedicates the Temple to God. God appears to him at the end of this section to remind him of the conditions of the covenant--that obedience to God's ways was required.
In chapter 10, the height of Solomon's political career is reached as he receives a visit from the Queen of Sheba, who has heard of his great riches and wisdom. The chapter ends with a recounting of Solomon's greatness in riches and wisdom. King Solomon has arrived.
How ironic, then, that the very next chapter (11) describes the downfall of Solomon! His downfall is announced through a comment about the "love" Solomon had for his many foreign wives. As the nationalities of these wives are recounted, we see that they are from many of the nations that had opposed Solomon in the past, and of whom God had told his people not to marry. Thus, "the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD" (11:9). Consequently, God raised up enemies against Solomon and decided to take the kingdom away from Solomon. It was only because of God's promise to David (not Solomon), that God allowed Solomon's son to retain a small piece of the kingdom as it was torn asunder (11:26-40).
The rise of Solomon is told to us in ten chapters. His fall, in less than one. This is a symbol of our own lives. It takes dedication, commitment, and growth over the long haul to follow God in obedience. It takes just moments to have this torn down.
It is for these reasons that Jesus teaches alertness and watchfulness. In Mark 13:33, he said, "Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come." In the same passage, he taught the disciples to "keep awake" two other times. We should heed the warning of the example of Solomon and the teaching of Jesus--be very diligent as you walk with God in obedience.