The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 19. Even the Wise Fall
1 Kings 1:37 As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!”
1 Kings 11:6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.
Recap: As we continue pursuing the thoughts about consequences and now come to the life of Solomon, we have to say from the outset that it is a story that reveals that within the foolish sinfulness of mankind, even the wisest of the wise can end up being stupid if they allow themselves, by degrees, to drift away from the Lord.
Solomon: Let’s itemize the basic facts to save time and space:
– born to David & Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24)
– came to the throne in David’s last days by his decree (1 Kings 1)
– came with high expectations (see 1 Kings 1:37 above and v.47)
– cleared away all the possible traitors and established the kingdom (1 Kings 1 & 2)
– had a dream from God and asked for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15)
– clearly received that wisdom (1 Kings 4:29,30)
– built the temple (1 Kings 6:14) and restored the ark (1 Kings 8)
– had such fame, success and prosperity the Queen of Sheba visited and acknowledged it (1 Kings 10)
– yet he had many foreign wives (1 Kings 11:1) in disobedience (v.2) and they led his heart away from God (v.4-6) and incurred God’s anger (v.9-11)
– God raised up enemies (1 Kings 11:14,23,26) and eventually after his death the kingdom was divided.
His Rise & Fall: On the plus-side Solomon received and used God’s wisdom to create a great and powerful and affluent nation, he built and established the temple and continued to build the land up. His downfall came with first one foreign wife and then many of them – polygamy in the extreme – and, not surprisingly, all these foreign wives came with their gods and pressurized Solomon to accept them. Eventually he fell right away from following the Lord at which point the Lord spoke, rebuked him, and told of what he would do – divide the kingdom.
The Judgment: As we noted above, three adversaries rose up against Solomon, the last becoming sufficiently powerful that he led the division when Solomon’s son foolishly ignored the wisdom offered him and became king over the northern ten tribes.
The Lessons: There are, I would suggest, various very clear lessons from his story:
- God who knows all things, including the future, will not be put off bringing present blessing even though he knows the future activity will turn pear-shaped. Observe great men of God who have been mightily used of God and yet who fell away later and sinned. This is but the grace of God.
- Never take God’s blessing for granted. As the apostle Paul wrote, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor 10:12) It is in our times of prosperity and apparent security that we may be most vulnerable to temptation.
- The Lord’s dealings with us – as are most obvious with both David and Solomon – are such that He seeks to avoid harm for others around us. Removing both David and Solomon for their sins would have made Israel very vulnerable and so, instead, the Lord allowed them to continue but in very curtailed circumstances.
- When we sin, the Lord seeks to bring us to repentance and so often uses the fruit of our wrong behaviour to discipline and change us. He is always working for our redemption, especially when we fall.
- Having said all this, there are clearly time in Scripture when the Lord does take the life of the individual in judgment. We suggest the reason for this would be to prevent the sin of the individual escalating or their bad example being taken as acceptable and eventually the norm. We should add that in the light of people such as Manasseh who we’ve considered earlier, He surely takes people away who He sees will never repent. Such judgments we refer to as ‘judgments of the last resort’, it is the last thing the Lord wants to do (see Ezek 18).
Warnings: In the days in which we life, the spiritual state of the Church, as we’ve documented in other series, leaves much to be desired. Merely because we are not aware of the judgment or major discipline of the Lord on the Church at the present time should not make us complacent and think all is well. It is simply the Lord being patient with is (2 Pet 3:9), looking for our repentance which we may pray out now or on our knees in tears if He comes in sovereign revival power. Let’s not be casual.
As we move on into Part Two, we will document specific ways we can get it wrong and incur guilt, again not to condemn but to set goals.