What tempts you away from the good things that you know you should be focusing on? Is it food, wealth, possessions, laziness, your neighbor’s spouse…the list is endless. All of us have a weakness for something we want that we know we shouldn’t have.
With Solomon, it was women. Perhaps it was wine, women, and song, but mostly it was women. (As in, over 1000 women.) He was the son of King David, who also had a weakness for women that weren’t his to enjoy. Solomon was a huge womanizer in a culture that thought little of women. His conquests were staggering, and his appetite was insatiable.
God loved Solomon and warned him about intermarrying with all these foreign women, but Solomon ignored every word:
1 Kings (Common English Bible)
11 In addition to Pharaoh’s daughter, King Solomon loved many foreign women, including Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. 2 These came from the nations that the Lord had commanded the Israelites about: “Don’t intermarry with them. They will definitely turn your heart toward their gods.” Solomon clung to these women in love.
Had Solomon clung to God, the rest of this story would have a better ending. Instead, he clung to these women in love. But I have to stop here and ask, what are YOU clinging to that threatens your relationship with God? Are you also turning away from God’s words of warning?
3 He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred secondary wives. They turned his heart. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods. He wasn’t committed to the Lord his God with all his heart as was his father David.5 Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and wasn’t completely devoted to the Lord like his father David.
“They turned his heart after other gods.” Our mamas warned us about running with a bad crowd. When you hang out with reprobates, you are likely to become one yourself. Mama was right.
7 On the hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a shrine to Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and to Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. 9 The Lord grew angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from being with the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 The Lord had commanded Solomon about this very thing, that he shouldn’t follow other gods. But Solomon didn’t do what the Lord commanded.
Have you ever failed to do what the Lord commands? Sometimes temptations are so great they blot out everything else. Godliness, decency, moral living, and proper behavior are often the victims of a temptation to which we succumb.
11 The Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done all this instead of keeping my covenant and my laws that I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. 12 Even so, on account of your father David, I won’t do it during your lifetime. I will tear the kingdom out of your son’s hands.
The punishment is pronounced, but notice that even in anger, God’s love for both David and Jerusalem results in a measure of grace being extended. But Solomon’s actions result in the loss of a united Israel. After his death, the kingdom divides and grows weaker and weaker. Eventually even Jerusalem falls.
13 Moreover, I won’t tear away the entire kingdom. I will give one tribe to your son on account of my servant David and on account of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
Solomon the Wise turns into a King of Fools when he succumbs to his temptations. His strength becomes his weakness as he goes from following God to actually building detestable idols in his own backyard. We can see in his story that having wisdom is not a panacea against the wiles of evil. Being smart does not equate to having strength of character.
Where is God calling you to outwit your temptations? Have you stepped aside from God’s will for your life as you have chased after idols? Has someone or something turned your heart?
Through the grace offered by the shed blood of the atonement, you can turn away from those things and come back to God. Forgiveness is the blessing that is always available to the repentant person. Softly and tenderly, Jesus calls us to come home.