How Important is it to Be Wholehearted? #286 The Fall of Solomon
Hello friends and happy Thursday to you! In my household we are now entering full day #2 without my wife, who is visiting family in Alabama at the moment. I initially wrote that she has fled to Alabama, abandoning me and the 5 kids, but that would be kind of inaccurate since I got her a plane ticket to see family for her birthday a couple of weeks ago. So far the kids have really pulled together and not killed each other even once, nor burned the house down. The youngest kids are home-schooled and go to a weekly co-op, the oldest is in college, and the 2nd oldest is in public high school, but all are at home doing distance learning because of a little virus I like to call Covid. So they ask me a lot of school questions. I don’t really know why I’m telling you all of this, but I don’t really have any adults to talk to around here, so I guess I am unloading on you all. Shoutout to our new subscriber in Illinois – in the Champagne/Springfield area who downloaded 102 episode of the podcast today. That happens a few times a week, and I always wonder if somebody is planning on just binging the show, or catching up, or what…but, hey -welcome aboard anyway -enjoy those 50 hours, I guess. Also a shout-out to our friends in India who have, just in the last two months, surpassed Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to become the #2 country in the world for podcast downloads. We have lots of listeners in India now, and I appreciate you all very much! I used to co-host a podcast called the Gospel Friends (that name was a play on the Super-friends) that got kind of popular in certain places. We took a hiatus on the show for a few months, and when we came back and I checked the stats, after a few weeks of not checking, something very strange had happened – we all of the sudden had become big in Japan – with thousands of downloads all over Japan. We never figured out how that happened, but we did do an episode entitled “I Want to Hug You Like a Japanese Chair,” that was downloaded a ton over there, so there’s that. Anyway, I am totally rambling – like I said, I miss my wife!
Today’s Bible readings include 1 Kings 11, Psalms 92-93, Ezekiel 41 and Philippians 2. Normally, we would cover the beginning of Philippians 2, the humility and character of Christ, but we already did that in episode 89 when we read through Philippians 2 the first time, so a different focus today. Today we are in 1 Kings 11 and considering the remarkable fall of Solomon. As we have been reading, Solomon was incredibly smart and wise, and people from all over the world came and sat at his feet to listen to him. He was also incredibly blessed by God in practically every way possible. He spoke with God personally on at least two occasions and presided over one of the most powerful worship services in the Bible. How is it possible that such a person could fall? In Solomon’s life we see several warnings:
- A warning that being wise is NOT enough. Knowing is not half the battle, it is only a small fraction – Solomon was warned by God to be wholehearted and devoted to God, and God alone, but Solomon did not obey these commands. He knew what he was supposed to do, but rejected that wisdom.
- Having an abundance of anything is not necessarily good for our spiritual health. Solomon had it all, and was blessed beyond measure, but he still fell away.
- Seeing miracles happen and having full assurance that God is God is not enough to guarantee faithfulness. Jesus mentions the blessings that come to those who have faith in Him, and yet don’t actually see Him. Solomon is the reverse of this – Solomon has seen the goodness of God, and the power of God and heard the words of God, and yet he turned away from God.
We must learn from Solomon that we can fall from any height – Let’s read the passage and see what we can learn.
One word that stands out to me here: wholehearted.
4 When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been. 5 Solomon followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the abhorrent idol of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord.
1 Kings 11:4-6
I find it interesting that David is considered wholehearted, even though he committed murder. I believe the reason for this is that David was repentant for his sin and followed God wholeheartedly after this – he also paid a terrible, terrible price for his sin, and yet Solomon, for all of his wisdom, didn’t learn from the horrible mistake of his father.
I want to close with one more warning, and it is the most sobering so far. It is possible to know the Word, believe the Word and even PREACH the Word, and still not follow the Word yourself. Consider the message of Solomon in 1 Kings 8:
54 When Solomon finished praying this entire prayer and petition to the Lord, he got up from kneeling before the altar of the Lord, with his hands spread out toward heaven, 55 and he stood and blessed the whole congregation of Israel with a loud voice: 56 “Blessed be the Lord! He has given rest to his people Israel according to all he has said. Not one of all the good promises he made through his servant Moses has failed. 57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors. May he not abandon us or leave us 58 so that he causes us to be devoted to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commands, statutes, and ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors. 59 May my words with which I have made my petition before the Lord be near the Lord our God day and night. May he uphold his servant’s cause and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires. 60 May all the peoples of the earth know that the Lord is God. There is no other! 61 Be wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord our God to walk in his statutes and to keep his commands, as it is today.”
1 Kings 8:54-61
Note well how Solomon exhorted the Israelites to be WHOLEHEARTEDLY devoted to God. He preached it, but did not live it. The apostle Paul seems quite well aware of this danger – aware that it is possible to run the spiritual equivalent of a marathon and drop out with only a few hundred yards left, and not run to win the prize:
24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. 26 So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
A few chapters later, he further exhorts the Corinthians:
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Likewise, I exhort you, and I exhort me: Run the race and finish it well. Take hold of the good news of Jesus and KEEP hold of it for all your life – wholeheartedly looking to Him, the author and perfecter of your faith!
I don’t want to close giving you the idea that you must save yourself, and that it is in your full power to keep yourself wholehearted, because that would undervalue the preserving value and power of Jesus and overvalue your ability to save yourself. The strength to persevere is not yours, but Christs – and yet you must hold firm, run the race and fix your eyes on Jesus constantly:
12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.