We were studying Solomon one morning in Sunday School. We marveled at him as He asked God for wisdom. God asked him what he wanted and Solomon asked for wisdom to lead his people. 1 Kings 3:5, “The LORD appeared to Solomon at Gibeon. He spoke to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for anything you want me to give you.” This is what follows in verses 9-11: “So give me a heart that understands. Then I can rule over your people. I can tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Who can possibly rule over this great nation of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for that. So God said to him, “You have not asked to live for a long time. You have not asked to be wealthy. You have not even asked to have your enemies killed. Instead, you have asked for wisdom. You want to do what is right and fair when you judge people.” If God asked each of us what we wanted from Him how many of us would ask for wisdom? I might ask protection over my daughters and their families, or I might ask for us to be all together again, or maybe even for wealth so Greg could quit his job, but wisdom?
So we all know Solomon was wise and good and pretty awesome. He could ask for anything from anybody and pretty much get it. What power! We read later in 1 Kings Chapter 11 he had many foreign women surrounding him. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines. 1 Kings 11:2, “The LORD had warned Israel about women from other nations. He had said, “You must not marry them. If you do, you can be sure they will turn your hearts toward their gods.” But Solomon continued to love them anyway. He wouldn’t give them up.” Can you imagine that many wives with credit cards to Macy’s or Target? Can you imagine how they must have vied for his attention? Can you men imagine pleasing that many women? I am sure that area of his life was a bit more challenging.
Verse 4 is the one that caught my eye. It says, “As Solomon grew older, his wives turned his heart toward other gods. He didn’t follow the LORD his God with all his heart. So he wasn’t like his father David.” His wives turned his heart toward other gods. I quickly remembered Adam blamed Eve for turning his life around and wrecking it. I had to laugh for just a minute according to the Bible on these two occasions and probably many more women were the ones that turned their man’s heart against God.
I mentioned this in class, but was soon reminded that man has a choice. Yes, the wives Solomon had turned his life away from God, but was he forced to? Held at gunpoint? Was a knife held at his neck? I don’t think so. He had the opportunity to do what was right in the eyes of God and not be led down a path he didn’t want to take. Same thing with Adam, he had the choice to say no, but he didn’t. Was it pressure to follow his wife; to please her? Was it just easier than saying no?
I think there are a couple of things we need to think about. First ladies and men we need to be careful about where we lead our spouses, family and friends. What may be an innocent act for you may be challenging for another. Or you may be able to avoid temptation, but another may not be able to. Say just for instance you enjoy going to a bar that serves really good food. You are okay with going in and eating there with no problems, but you take your friend, spouse wife or whoever who has had a drinking problem that might not be a good choice for them. The temptation might be just too great. We have to be more aware of what we do and how we help others avoid temptation and falling into the snare of sin.
The second thing I think we need to think about is taking responsibility and stop blaming others for our actions. We have the ability to think for ourselves. We have the ability to say no when we are tempted or when we are led astray. Two brothers murdered and injured several people. One brother was killed the other brother survived to be brought before the justice system. The lawyers wanted the courts to go easy on the surviving brother because one, he is younger than his brother and two; he was influenced and persuaded by his brother. They tried to say he would never have done this had his brother not been around. That may be true, but he did participate; he didn’t say no. He had a choice to make on his own.
Adam was punished as much as Eve why? Because he didn’t say no and he allowed her to persuade him to follow her into turning from God and doing something that they both know God had said no to.
Solomon knew what God had told him. He knew right from wrong, but maybe it was just easier to go along than to refuse. Most days, not every day, but most we have choices to make. We must choose who we will follow; who we will be loyal to. We are not puppets; we all have the opportunity to voice our opinion, to say no and to follow the examples God has given us. Solomon is one example for us to follow. We can be like him and ask for wisdom and follow His ways, but we have to be careful not to follow in the same trap as Solomon. We don’t have to make the same mistakes as someone else; they can be a learning tool for us. If we were raised one way and we know that way of life wasn’t right we can rise above it and turn towards God. God says when there is temptation around us there is always a way out. I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Solomon was wise, but even with all that wisdom he forgot one thing, to follow God and to obey His commandments.
It’s a lesson for all of us. We need to take responsibility for our actions and we need to turn from those who will steer us toward the evil desires of our heart. Do we as a nation believe it is easier to go along with those things we know are wrong than to stand up for what we believe in? Do we as congregation members think it is easier to go along with what is being taught in our churches rather than standing on God’s teachings? Who are you loyal to? Will God find you just as loyal at the end of your life as He does now or will we be like Solomon and led astray?
Dear God: I thank you for examples in the Bible that teach us how to live our lives. They are not just stories that are being passed down or were wrote in the Bible, they are lessons to be learned; examples to follow. When we are in doubt all we need to do is look in your word for direction. Help us as people not to do the easy thing, but to do the right thing. Help us not to let others persuade us or lead us astray, and give us voice when we need to stand for what is right. Give us wisdom to follow your ways all the days of our lives. Amen.