“God turned up” Meditations: 14 : To Solomon (3)
1 Kings 9:1,2 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.
When I watch and listen to the affairs of the human race, I am sure that there will be those who, when they face God eventually in heaven, will say, “But I didn’t know.” Yet I am equally convinced that their excuse will not be accepted because, as I have stated before in these mediations, I am sure the Lord speaks to every person, even though they are not aware that it is actually His voice that is speaking to them. They may grudgingly concede that they ‘wondered about it’, wondered if it was their conscience speaking, but ‘another voice’ suggested, ‘take no notice!’ so they didn’t. But they will be held accountable, and accountability comes in this life as well as the next.
Solomon is a tragic case. Earlier in life he had received a remarkable dream and a remarkable promise and abundant blessing had flowed as a result. He has built the Temple and a fine palace for himself and life seems settled – and then the Lord turns up again.
As the Lord speaks again to Solomon, He first of all affirms His acceptance of the Temple: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (v.3) That is really encouraging. Solomon has done the right thing. Then comes a challenge and a promise: “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, `You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.” (v.4,5) There it is very clearly stated: obey God and blessing will flow.
But then a sharper warning is added: “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, `Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, `Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them–that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.” (v.6-9)
Now the one thing that Solomon will never be able to say is, “I didn’t know.” The warning is very clear and it is against straying to worship ‘other gods’. If that happens in this nation, the nation will be ‘cut off from the land’, they will lose their inheritance and they will lose the Temple and the whole passing world will see and know and marvel at it. A disaster will come that will be seen by everyone!
Now you can’t get much clearer than that. It is a warning that there is one thing that God will not tolerate and that is apostasy in the form of idolatry – worshipping other gods or idols that are in fact no gods. If they stray from God, their ethical standards will fall and their society will fall apart and become unjust, and they will be weak so that they will not be able to withstand the approaches of neighbouring nations, and will become subservient to them. No longer will they be a nation under God. THAT is how clear it is!
To see the tragedy of Solomon we have to read the terrible detail of what happened later on. I include all of it because of the detail and the awfulness of it: “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter–Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.” (1 King 11:1-8) He disobeyed God, thinking his wisdom was wiser than God’s, for why else would he do what God said not to do and, just as God had warned, he fell prey to their pagan religions. The monument to his jaded life in old age is the book of Ecclesiastes where he has clearly lost contact with God and the world seems meaningless. What a tragedy! He knew it but didn’t do it. May that not be the epitaph on our gravestones!