“I’m gonna be a mighty king, so enemies beware!
I’m gonna be the main event, like no king was before!
I’m brushing up on looking down, I’m working on my ROAR…
Oh, I just can’t wait to be king!”
I’m sure many of you recognize the lyrics to Simba’s theme song in the Disney production of “The Lion King.” This is the story of a young lion cub who desperately wants the fame, fortune, and attention that comes with being the king. Simba succumbed to the temptation of wanting praise and adoration for his bravery, and the seduction of knowing what was in the forbidden land. This information would give him superior knowledge over all of the animal kingdom, and he wanted that power. Simba’s ambitions set a series of events in motion that resulted in his father’s death and the young cub’s exile from Pride Rock. (Don’t miss the double meaning of Pride Rock: A pride is a collection of lions, and it was pride that led to Simba’s downfall.) Eventually Simba returned after a long period of humility and isolation that resulted in a realistic understanding of what kingship entails. He became a good king, and the story has a happy ending.
In our Scripture today, King Solomon’s story had a similar trajectory, but without the happy ending. Like Simba, Solomon succumbed to his temptations, ego, and ambitions. Pride was also a factor here, as were the seductions of wine, women, and song that attended a king of his stature. Solomon’s fall from his own “Pride Rock” was dramatic and devastating, resulting in the invasion of stronger armies, the fracturing of the Kingdom of Israel, and ultimately their exile from the very land God had given them.
1 Kings 11:4-13 (Common English Bible)
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. 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. 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.
Clearly, God ain’t playin’. It had always been the plan that God would reign as king, and the people of Israel would live together in peace and harmony. But after a series of prophets and judges overseeing them, they grew restless, hostile, and jealous. Finally they demanded that the prophet Samuel give them a king ”so that they could be like the other nations.” (1 Samuel 8:5). These stories remind us that we reject God at our own peril. Was there ever a time in your life when you rejected God? I bet it didn’t go well.
Even still, God’s amazing grace, his unfathomable mercy, and his unconditional forgiveness are offered to Solomon:
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. 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.”
God preserves a part of Israel and the lineage of David in spite of Solomon’s sin, and that lineage led us to Jesus.
Christmas is a time to consider kings and kingship. Who is your king? What is on your throne? Have the foreign idols of celebrity worship, the blind following of popular politicians, hours upon hours of screen time, and reading more social media than your Bible become the things that you worship?
We are called back to the manger to worship the King of Kings, who is the Lord of Lords. Jesus is our one and only king, and he deserves our complete attention and obedience. To do anything less will result in danger and exile.
It is never too late to turn your heart back to God. Only then will you receive the blessings of the Prince of Peace.