I Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9
My sister Kathy and I were talking yesterday about the passages in Ecclesiastes I’d been reading. We were remarking about how Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was the richest. And as far as I can tell he was the most self-indulgent person on record, too.
Solomon had it all. And it became his ruin.
Kathy said something that has me thinking today as I read about Solomon’s turn from God. She wondered how the same man who wrote The Song Of Solomon, the man who was totally devoted to his first love, and who was loved like that in return, could end up with 700 wives and 300 more women he had sex with. How did he go from that precious first love, so pure, intense, and exclusive, to such a mind-boggling disregard for that love?
The answer is in the chapters I read today. It happened gradually. One day, one step at a time.
Most likely some of the women were gifts from neighboring kings. But Solomon welcomed them into his home. And he allowed them to bring their detestable idols with them. Everything God had warned him to avoid.
I don’t think Solomon woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll worship Ashtoreth today.” But Scripture tells us eventually Solomon became a worshiper of that Sidonian god, and a worshiper of other imaginary gods as well.
Did it start out with curiosity? Solomon seems to be a man who loved learning everything he could. Maybe he thought observing his wives go through their pagan rituals was a learning experience, would help him understand his wives better. I don’t know. The Bible just says this about King Solomon:
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (I Kings 11:4)
That makes me sad. The Bible seems to indicate that Solomon kept his first wife, his first love, separate from the others. Built her a better house. Maybe spent more time with her than with the others. Probably gave her roses on their anniversary or a box of candy on Valentines Day. But the reality is he had something else going on, too. And that something else ended up turning his heart away from God.
The Bible takes it a step further:
Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. (I Kings 11:6)
Solomon who built that incredible temple, who was so gifted with wisdom and power and material wealth. Solomon who represented God to the nations around him. Ended up being remembered for doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
Fast forward a few thousand years. What would God want me to take away from Solomon’s life? I find myself checking my relationship with my own first love.
The early church in Ephesus was a vibrant, busy congregation who persevered, did not tolerate sin, even called their preachers out when the preachers weren’t speaking the truth. But Rev 2:4 reports what God says about that church in Ephesus:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
That’s where God is nudging me this morning. I can think about Solomon and wonder about his fall, but there is a more important truth to consider. And that is my own heart’s condition before my Lord.
The question I need to answer today is this: Is my heart “wholly devoted” to God? Or have I tolerated a bit of sin in my life? Have I begun to take those steps away from God that I consider no big deal at the moment? Do I serve Him out of love? Do I nurture that love, think about Him, talk about Him, spend time with Him? Is God the focus of my life or not?
Solomon is going to be required to give an answer for his heart’s condition before the same Holy God I’m going to give an account to. What will my answer be?
God, I want to love You like You deserve to be loved. I want to keep You the focus of my thoughts and actions. I want to walk with You, include You in every minute of every day. And I want to forsake all others, keep myself only for You, resist the devil. I want to serve You out of a heart of love and devotion. It’s You and me, Lord. Just You and me.