|King Solomon and his wives in idol worship|
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Triplets of Idolatry: Like Father, Like Son, Only Worse
King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but his downfall began with idleness, lust, and selfishness, and culminated in adultery, deception and murder (2 Samuel 11). Despite these egregious sins, however, he continued to seek after the one true God in prayer, fasting, and worship.
In his private time with the Lord, he interceded for the life of his firstborn child with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:16); he repented from his sins (2 Samuel 12:13); and he begged God to restore the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:10-12). Publicly, he honored God with offerings, testimony, and provision for His house to be built (1 Chronicles 29:1-8).
Like David, his son Solomon started off on the right foot, seeking God’s will, praying for wisdom, and honoring God by being a just ruler (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32). But, like David, his lust caused him to offend God in ways that were even worse than his father’s sins.
I say this realizing that God sees all sins as heinous (Romans 3:23), and that we deserve eternal punishment in hell (James 1:15) for even sins that we might perceive as “little,” perhaps telling a “little white lie” that our friend’s dress flatters her, or taking home something small, like a pen, from the workplace.
But James says that if we are guilty in breaking any part of the law, we are guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Although we deserve hell, God sent His Son Jesus to pay for all of our sins (Romans 3:25), so that all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) will have eternal life (John 3:16).
So why do I say that Solomon’s sins were worse than his father’s? The first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-38). Solomon, who began his God-appointed rule over Israel as the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32), broke that commandment through indifference, disobedience, and ultimately idolatry.
He began well, having completed the building of the Lord’s house, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do. The Lord appeared to him and promised unconditionally that His Name, eyes and heart would always be in His house that Solomon had built (1 Kings 9:1-3).
A second conditional promise was that Solomon’s throne would rule over Israel forever, if Solomon would follow God as David had, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, and obey all of God’s commandments, statutes and judgments.
But if Solomon turned away from following God, disobeyed Him, and worshipped other gods, then God would cut off Israel from the land He gave them, cast out the house from His sight, and destroy Israel’s reputation. All would know that God had judged Israel for taking hold of other gods, worshipping them, and serving them (1 Kings 9:4-9).
Sadly, Solomon did not heed God’s warning. Like his father David, Solomon got into trouble through his lust for “forbidden fruit” – women he should have avoided, for they were not Israelites following the one true God. Solomon himself knew this, thanks to his God-given wisdom. In his writings in Proverbs, Solomon repeatedly warns his son against flattery, seduction and destruction by the “strange woman” (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3,20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27; 27:13)
Scripture warns us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers, because relationships with them entail being joined to unrighteousness, darkness, and unbelief (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
Once we are born again (John 3:3-8), the Holy Spirit enters our heart and we become God’s temple – He lives in us, acts through us, and is our God. Therefore, He demands that we come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
Similarly, the apostle Paul warns believers against fornication, because our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; we now belong to God, and we were bought with the price of Christ’s shed blood on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:15-20; Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, we should not join our members (mentioned three times in 1 Corinthians 6:15), meaning body parts, to those of a harlot.
But King Solomon loved many “strange” (pagan, Gentile) women, namely Egyptian (Pharaoh’s daughter), Moabite, and Ammonite, as well as Edomite, Zidonian, and Hittite women. God had specifically warned the children of Israel not to seek romantic entanglements with these nations, nor to respond to their advances, for they would turn away the heart of the children of Israel from our true God to their pagan gods (1 Kings 11:1-2).
Solomon disobeyed God’s commandment in a big way, taking on seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. Why so many? Physical desire, no doubt, as well as political ambition in forming alliances with other nations, and pride in his vast power, wealth, and fame (1 Kings 10). Satan’s favored strategy is to appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16),
As God had predicted, Solomon’s wives turned away his heart after other gods, so that his heart was not perfect with God, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He failed to follow God; he built high places for pagan worship; and he allowed his wives to offer burnt incense to their idols, most likely himself participating in this abomination (1 Kings 11:3-8).
In His third appearance to Solomon, the Lord expressed His anger, because Solomon’s heart was turned away from Him, and he had disobeyed God’s explicit commandments. God’s judgment on Solomon was threefold: He would seize the kingdom from Solomon’s family and give it to his servant, yet for David’s sake He would wait until Solomon was dead and then take the kingdom from Solomon’s son (1 Kings 11:9-12).
If we “follow our heart,” as conventional wisdom encourages us to do, and ignore God’s Word, we may become romantically attached to an unsaved person, at our own peril. Our emotions, desires and rationalization lead us to believe that we can change them, but this is unwise (Proverbs 3:5-6). Certainly we should not stop witnessing to and praying for an unbeliever whom we love, but committing to a relationship with them until they are saved is disobedient to God’s Word.
As a loving Father, God longs to protect us from the traps of this world. If we ignore His Word, we will be unable to lead the object of our affection into a saving relationship with Him. Instead, that person will draw us away from the Lord, and His judgment will follow. Idolatry refers to any object, relationship or desire to which we give a higher priority than God (1 John 5:21).
In Solomon’s case, his physical desires, political ambitions, and ultimately other gods usurped the pre-eminence God should have had over his life (Colossians 1:18). May we remain true to Christ and not fall into Solomon’s trap!
© 2017 Laurie Collett