Point of Reference
by Fred Price
In our first look at Solomon, we examined his tremendous success, achieved with relative speed; and then saw how soon that began to crumble at an ever-quickening pace as well. The main reason being compromise; of principles, commitment and adherence to God’s will. This lack of directed purpose manifesting itself most prominently in his infatuation with women, most damagingly expressed in an accommodation – if not adoption – of their gods. As such, “He followed Ashtoreth… and Molech…”; building “…a high place for Chemosh…” and likewise allowing all his foreign wives (Of which he had 700 of royal birth along with 300 concubines) to burn incense and offer sacrifices to their respective “gods.” 1 Kings 11:3-8 All this even as he personally fulfilled his “temple obligations” by offering sacrifices there three times a year. ( 1 Kings 9:25) A house divided indeed!
All of which prompted God to swear to, “…tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.” Not to one of his many sons, who were equally contaminated by his idolatrous relationships – but to a “subordinate.” Which didn’t happen, as a concession to his father David’s memory, until after Solomon’s death. All the wealth, power and prestige quickly lost to division, civil war and the separation of Israel from Judah. The two now-distinct nations repeatedly falling to the same temptations until their final defeat and subjugation decades later at the hands of their enemies from within and without.
It wasn’t really the women who caused Solomon’s failings, they were merely symptoms of a deeper issue; although they certainly contributed to his family’s dysfunction and his country’s demise. It was a divided allegiance, a compromised loyalty that was so costly; which could have manifested itself in any number of ways. In this case, the women represent the ‘bad company corrupting good character’ of 1 Corinthians 15:33 (A New Testament warning against the same type of entrapment, as we still struggle with assuming the character traits of those we hang out with. See also Proverbs 22:24,25)
The long-standing principle of Exodus 19:5,6 was twisted to make the Jewish nation appear special in its own right, set apart as such because of an innate goodness they possessed rather than because of the God they claimed as their own and what they were called to be and do by Him. Again, a common failing of us all. (See 1 Peter 2:9, as we now possess the same opportunity and responsibility to be, “…a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God – or as the KJ renders it, a “peculiar people” – that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”)
It was because of man’s inherent weakness in the company of others that they were told, “Do not make a covenant (or alliance) with them or (by association) with their gods… because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.” Exodus 23:32,33 (See also Deuteronomy 7:1-6) Which by our standards of tolerance and inclusion today seems harsh, but exemplifies the high standard God sets for our remaining pure of heart, steadfast in devotion, firm in our commitment and unwavering in our worship of Him and Him alone.
Solomon’s first step in his own personal demise and the ruin of all he had worked so hard to achieve being, “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh King of Egypt and married his daughter.” 1 Kings 3:1 (A common practice throughout history, up to and including early European deal-making and alliance forging.) But it didn’t stop there, that first step of disobedience – as is so often the case – followed by more. (See 1 Kings 11:1) These multiple acts of self-gratification leading him further astray by causing him to forget – or ignore – the prime tenet of Judaism, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 And by doing so, negating the first two commandments of the Ten Israel received from God at the very outset of their existence as a nation. ( Deuteronomy 5:6-10)
The “secret” to Solomon’s early success was found in his acknowledgement of his obligation to God Almighty, grounded in love, honor and respect; expressed with integrity, sound judgment, acts of compassion and generosity; complimented by the deflection of personal praise to God’s glory. The “culprit” behind his downfall was his compromise of those same principles and directives communicated to him by God, leading to a divided loyalty at best; which in turn led to a dependence on self and then others to guarantee the success God had already promised – if he remained true to his calling. A common weakness to us all whether our “other gods” be our wives, kids, jobs, homes, possessions, etc. Anything or anyone taking precedence over God being an “idol” and a focus of false worship. Jesus affirming that the greatest commandment was indeed the injunction to love God first and foremost accompanied by the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. ( Matthew 22:37-40)
But even as Jesus asserted that, “…the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Mark 12:29; he also insisted in no uncertain terms that, “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 Behooving us to acknowledge that we, “…were called to one hope… one Lord… one faith… one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 That realization enabling us to, “…live a life worthy of the calling (we) have received.” Ephesians 4:1; being heirs not merely of a king, but of the King of Kings. ( 1 Timothy 6:15)
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Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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