Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Solomon’s Failures

~ Failures of the World’s Wisest Man ~

Solomon is rightly regarded as one of the wisest men ever to live. He accomplished so much good as a good king obeying God. But Solomon had inherited the same sin nature that all humans have received—passed down from Adam. The Bible is clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We get a preview of Solomon’s sin nature early in the account of his life. “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places” (1 Kings 3:3).

question:  Is there an “except that” in your love for God? 

FAILURES  ~  Solomon’s main failures may be broadly categorized in three areas—areas which many of us struggle with today.

Mismanaged Time  ~  Solomon was instructed to copy and then read from the Word of God. Listen to one of the key principles laid out for governing kings. “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). 

The Biblical account suggests that Solomon dropped this practice. Neglect of the Bible—failure to regularly spend time in, consider, and reflect upon the Word of God is a root cause of many failures of Christians.   

Misguided Priorities  ~  Solomon was instructed not to acquire a large number of horses for himself or to allow his people to return to Egypt to acquire horses. He was not to take many wives for himself or to accumulate silver and gold for himself. There were more key principles laid out for governing kings. “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). This is another contemporary root cause of failures for many Christians. 

Misdirected Love  ~  In Solomon’s day—as in our day—our actions eventually affect the way we think. Solomon directed his attention in the wrong direction.

(1)  He accumulated horses and related items. “And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. Also Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh; the king’s merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price. Now a chariot that was imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse one hundred and fifty; and thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria” (1 Kings 10:26-29). Horses aren’t wrong in themselves—it is when something becomes an obsession, a god, in our lives that it becomes dishonoring to God. 

(2)  Solomon added foreign wives and concubines. “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8).

(3)  Solomon increased his holdings of silver and gold—selfishly for his own purposes. Wealth is not bad unless our attitude towards wealth is wrong. “God said to him (Solomon): “Because you have … not asked for riches for yourself … I have given you your request” – 1 Kings 3:11-12). But the Biblical record suggests that Solomon became proud and accumulated excessive wealth for himself—to the point where wealth and what wealth brings became more important—a god—to Solomon.   

RESULTS  ~  “So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant’” (1 Kings 11:9-11). Solomon’s failures produced many consequences—consider a couple of things. 

Moral Conflict  ~  A key result of bad moral choices is Moral Conflict. We quickly become mentally confused and start playing mental gymnastics as we try to justify wrong actions. 

Mental Confusion  ~  A second result is a purposeless life and a lack of happiness and true joy. In our era this often develops into what we call “mid-life crisis.” 

consider:  Solomon, a king with a divided heart, left behind a divided kingdom! The book of 1 Kings traces Solomon’s life. The book is easily seen as two distinct halves.  The first half (chapters 1-11) describes Solomon’s rise and fall as he raises Israel to the peak of her size and glory and then declines.  The second half of 1 Kings (chapters 12-22) describes the disruption of Solomon’s kingdom soon after his death which resulted in a nation torn in two by civil strife—Israel, the 10 northern tribes, and Judah, the 2 southern tribes. Don’t be mislead, what you do always affects others.

concluding thought:  Solomon’s failures were a result of the sin nature he inherited from his ancestors in the original garden. Review them again and see if you are reminded of Eve in that original garden. 

Stay tuned for more about Solomon next Tuesday on Abundant Life Now.

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

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