1 Kings 11

'King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter-Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD , the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command.'

The Bible says lots of amazing things about Solomon. Very few people have ever heard an audible "voice of God". Even less have ever had an experience where they have "seen God" physically with them in the room. Yet God appeared to Solomon twice. He was the wisest man that ever lived. That wisdom led to years of prosperity for Israel and personal wealth for himself. These were the glory years for Israel. World leaders looked to Israel as an economic superpower and it was all through Solomon. But God wasn't happy. One of the things that God had consistently said to Israel right from the start was a warning about compromise. It started small for Solomon. He agreed to marry a Princess from another country to seal a business deal. (Sorry if that sounds a bit sexist but that's just the way things were in the ancient near east!) Soon it was two or three more and gradually it snowballed into 700 of these "business deals" plus a few hundred deals on the side as well. Eventually, Solomon, stuck in not just one dysfunctional relationship but over a thousand, ends up pandering to their spiritual diet. Soon the King of Israel, God's chosen nation, is spending most of his time building temples, altars and totem poles for gods that were hated and detested. God had told Solomon to stay well away from marrying in this way, for this specific reason.

But the interesting thing is that God did not pull the rug out from under Solomon's feet. In our cloudy perception of God that's what we would expect. In some ways He allowed Solomon to carry on the rest of his life as normally and successfully as before. But he wasn't listening to God. God sent a couple of wakeup calls to try and catch his attention but ironically the spiritual leader of the nation had shut God out of his personal life. Why was God patient? Well that's God's character, always longing for us to change rather than to judge us. Perhaps a lot of innocent people would have suffered had God pulled the plug on Solomon's career. But also God wanted to be faithful to the promises that he had made to Solomon's father, David and ultimately his personal failings did catch up with him.

So how does that affect us? Sometimes we see our relative personal success as an excuse to carry on as we are. We know the big areas that God has highlighted in our lives. But beginning to deal with them can be hard and daunting. So we can carry on with God on the outside, turning up to Church and trying to live the rest of our lives as best we can but ultimately we have shut down our communication with God. We may think that we are successful, that we are "getting by" and doing ok. But whilst God is patient and waits around for us to change rather than going after us with a big stick, ultimately if we ignore God things do catch up with us. And like Solomon it may not just be us that gets caught up in the consequences but others too. CR

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