Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 11:1-40
Today’s reading – I read with a sense of sadness. The wisest man who ever lived – how could he go so wrong? One thing that sobers me is the realization that just knowing what to do or what not to do, does not stop a person from choosing the wrong things of life! But I should have known that because of Proverb’s answer in the often repeated phrase “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!” Not fear as ‘fright’, but fear as a deep loving respect for my Lord! Had Solomon been warned? Assuredly and more than once! So I am left wondering whether it was his overwhelming desire or his self-confidence that he could handle the temptation of which God had warned him? Nor did the Lord only warn him what not to do, but he also spoke the clear truth of what would happen if Solomon disobeyed – at least it was clear to God, but apparently not to Solomon or me sometimes. I too have walked that path; the results are the same as in Solomon’s case – very painful!
Perhaps I feel a sense of astonishment that Solomon would worship these other gods and idols, but I understand from experience how easy it is to veer away from the Lord in my relationship with Him. Another painful thing for me, is to realize that this turning away from the Lord, only grew stronger with age! My prayer is “Please Lord, don’t allow me to die a wicked OLD man, afar from You!”
And so God, although angry with Solomon, still searches him out and talks to him about his deviation from “true wisdom!” Is there no end to His love? The Bible tells me not! (His unfailing love!) And so although God chastens him (whom the Lord loves, He disciplines – Heb. 12:6 or Proverbs 3:11-12 – Solomon knew that!), but astonishingly God tells him that – for David’s sake, He will leave one tribe to Solomon’s descendants! And beyond that, this break-up won’t happen in Solomon’s lifetime! I am filled with wonder at this – truly God’s are not my ways and His grace is beyond my comprehension (I promise you, I have experienced this in my lifetime) – He just loves me so much, He never seems to be able to give up on me! I wonder what pain He must endure because of my wayward ways!
But there are consequences and there are two enemies raised up against him from outside Israel, and one from inside Israel which “cause him trouble!” But even then, I recall in the Hebrew passage above that the very painful consequences in Solomon’s and my life, only prove beyond a doubt that I belong to Him for sure and that grace moves me to tears! If I didn’t belong to Him, there would not be the same consequences and certainly not discipline!
Interestingly, God gives somewhat of the same promise and warning to Jeroboam that He would be rewarded for obedience and punished for disobedience! Of interest too is the fact that Solomon tries to kill Jeroboam. Again in the Hebrew passage above, I am warned not only to ‘not faint under his discipline,’ but also ‘to not to despise (or rebel against?) God’s discipline!’ Nice theology, until I realize that this is God talking to me!
I have heard it said that when the break came, the two tribes in Jerusalem had the OCASSIONAL good king, but the ten tribes who went whole-heartily down Solomon’s road, into idol worship, never had one GOOD king! Did Solomon ever repent? I don’t know but I do know that it is possible to go so far along a road, that it becomes impossible to repair the damage! How do you repair the damage that Solomon created by having 700 wives (even of royal birth) and 300 concubines (all foreign?)? The real reason was Solomon, not the wives which caused the chaos of Solomon’s personal life! So I come to the end of Solomon’s life, with the realization that without a closeness to my loving Father, I am doomed to be a foolish old man, but as we heard on the video “The Story” today, I can always turn back to His loving arms!