Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 29: King Solomon on Drifting from God
1 Kings 10:14-11:8
August 22, 2010
· Screwtape Letters (the friends), leftovers 1-2
· PPt changes: Removed Deut. 17:16-17, Prov. 30:7-9
Scripture reading: Mark 4:13-20 (Eddie)
Intro: Inscription overview
· This week we look at the final of Israel’s first three kings; they are also the only kings of the unified Israel.
Several weeks ago, we looked at King Saul, a king who had looked good on the outside, but deep down his heart was not devoted to God. I said that he was like the seed sown on shallow ground.
David was a man with a heart completely devoted to God. Sadly, sin and regrets devastated his later years, but he was still a man who loved God.
· Teresa summed them up as saying Saul had “no heart,” David had a “whole heart.”
What about Solomon? He is aptly described as having a “half heart.” He is like the seed sown among the weeds:
Mark 4:19 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
The danger of success
Here is what strikes me: On one hand, David fell suddenly through moral failure (the affair with Bathsheba and murdering her husband). On the other, Solomon slowly drifted away from God as a result of his success.
Q Which would you think is more dangerous to one’s soul: Murder or success?
In Solomon’s case, it was success. David repented and was forgiven, his heart turned back to God. Solomon kept drifting, never to return. From all appearances, he died apostate.
· He died a very rich and successful man on this earth, but very poor man eternally.
“What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?” (Matt 16:26). Like most of us, he was tragically short-sighted.
Am I saying it’s better to murder someone than be successful in life? Of course not, but when you commit the big sins, they are harder to ignore, harder to justify.
· In Solomon’s life we don’t see any big damning sins, just a myriad of compromises that slowly pulled him away from God.
Sometimes the subtlest things are the most dangerous.
My dad, Eddie, is a whitewater guide, and I have gone down the river with him several times. It’s a lot of fun, we go through some crazy stuff.
But there’s this one spot that is too dangerous to run. We actually have to take the boat out and carry it around. This is it. It just looks nice and calm, like a lake, but the reason it looks so calm is because of the dam.
· The currents here are moving quite fast, and if you are not very careful it will pull you over the dam.
Doesn’t look dangerous, does it? Looks fun to go over. But the currents will pull you under the water and keep you stuck there. Dad has seen logs stuck in that current for weeks.
· In the same way, Solomon’s life slowly drifter from God and he never seems to have even realized he went over the edge.
Even as we watch for the big stuff (like we talked about last week), we need to beware of the hidden currents. The majority of us are in greater danger of drifting way than some dramatic sin.
· Even if we fall, we’ll probably get back up “...though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” (Prv. 24:16)
But the subtle currents can slowly pull you away from God, and the farther you get, the harder it is to realize you are sliding backwards, and the more reluctant we are to face it.
Do you think you are drifting from God? Here are two questions to ask yourself:
Q Are you closer to God or further from him than you were 3 month ago? Are you reluctant to listen to God?
· There is no “the same.” Stagnating is moving away.
Q Are you attending church less and detaching yourself from the community?
Even before people realize they are drifting from God, they subconsciously pull away from the community. I have watched it happen countless times.
It is both an indicator and contributor to a slow slide from God. We know that we are not doing what we should do but don’t want to be reminded of the fact.
Maybe you are drifting from God, and, worse, you don’t care. Or maybe you don’t know God in a real way.
I could try all sorts of ways to plead with you, quoting Bible verse, etc, but that may not mean much to you. All I can say is this – don’t believe the lie that sin is fun and God is a drag.
· I get to watch the pain and devastation that separation from God brings – it’s fun for a while, but ends in misery.
And if you answer those questions Yes and No, still listen carefully, because I am going to talk about two currents that are dangerous and always pull at us, as they did Solomon: Money and relationships.
When we first meet Solomon, he’s the new king. God basically granted him one wish (cf. Aladdin), and rather than asking for fame or money or health (or 100 more wishes), he asked for wisdom so that he could lead Israel well.
God responded “Hey, that’s a great thing to ask for, so I’ll give it to you, and I’ll also give you money, fame, and health.”
1 Kings 10:23-28 23 ¶ King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. [His annual income was 16 tons of gold – $30 M] 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift-- articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules. 26 ¶ Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue...
When the original readers saw this, warning bells would have gone off. First and Second Kings were written to show how disobedience to the Torah landed Israel in their current mess.
These are all things that God had specifically warned kings against: Getting too rich, collecting a lot of horse, getting horse from Egypt.
· They saw this in the same way that we see warning signs when a married guy spends too much time with another woman.
But what’s so bad about that? It’s good to be successful, right? America love success (which is why attendance is so low at Mariner’s games).
· And for that matter, didn’t that success come from God?
It’s not that success or money are bad, but they are dangerous. Just as Deuteronomy had warned, Solomon’s heart was lead astray by these things.
Money’s like a sharp kitchen knife. Marilyn got me a good knife, and I love it. It slices tomatoes rather than smashes them. It works a lot better, quicker, and smoother than a dull one, but if you misuse it, the cut will be much, much worse.
Likewise, properly used, money can be a very effective tool, but only if it’s used for the right thing: God’s glory. But misused it becomes an idol, lethal to our souls. And the more money you have the sharper the knife is.
· I wonder – perhaps God gives us the sharpest knife we can handle, and for many of us that’s a butter knife!
Money tests the heart
The knife isn’t bad; no one has ever been cut by a knife – but many people have cut someone or themselves with a knife.
God’ financial blessings didn’t corrupt Solomon; they showed his true heart. Unlike his David who said “Apart from you I have no good thing,” Solomon found many things he thought were good.
Solomon had a real problem with priorities – here is one of the earliest warning signs of Solomon’s half heart:
1 Kings 6:38 - 7:1 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it. It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.
On the face of, that’s not so bad. We aspire to 10% of our income, but Solomon dedicated 1/3 of his energy to the temple.
But the bigger picture is that building the temple was pretty much the most important job and calling he had been given when he became king. It was supposed to be his master piece – a building to worthy to represent the Living God.
But his mind was more that it was the rough draft for his house, “If you think the temple is something, you should see my house!”
· Solomon demonstrated his misplaced priorities – his money, his success, his comfort was more important than God’s glory.
Here’s the lesson I want us to take: How we spend money is one the most important tests of our priorities.
· “Where treasure is, there your heart will be.”
We can say whatever we want, but how we spending our money speaks the loudest about our priorities. I am not saying that any money not given to God is selfish.
· Rather every dollar says something about your values.
Here’s an interesting exercise – think through your budget and what your expenses say about you and your priorities:
· My biggest expense is our home, which we own because security and feeling established is important to me.
· It’s a little bigger than it need be, partially out of vanity, but also out of a desire to be hospitable.
· Most of my spending money goes to time with friends, because I value community.
· My gift budget is too small, ‘cause I struggle being generous (“No one will know it’s regifted”).
· I give a significant portion of my income the church, because I want to advance God’s kingdom and believe in this church.
Think about what your spending says about your priorities. Determine what you want it to say. If you are married, talk to your spouse.
· But don’t think “When I make more...” – that’s a trap I fall in but am learning that if I don’t do it now, I never will.
Here’s the bottom line: Either your money will be used to glorify God or it will pull you away from him – you either serve God or money, not both.
· These are hard words in a culture were enough is never enough, and “Greed is good.”
This is why Jesus talked so much about money:
...the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
...it is easier for a rich man to go though the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.
· Beware of the current of money pulling you away from God!
The second and primary current that pulled Solomon away from God was relationship, specifically his wives.
1 Kings 11:1-4 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter-- Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 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. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 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.
Can you image having 700 wives and 300 concubines? Some guys might think, “Cool!” I can’t keep up with one! Besides can you imagine 1,000 on PMS? It would be time to get out of Jerusalem!
Solomon understood this in theory:
Proverbs 13:20 20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
How many of you had your parents quote this to you until you were sick of it. And the worst part is that they were right!
Solomon may have written this, but he didn’t live it out. He surrounded himself with “many foreign women” who didn’t follow God, is it any surprise his heart was pulled away from God?
Paul makes the same point more strongly:
NIV 2 Corinthians 6:14 ¶ Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
The image is of two animals stuck together, but going in two separate directions – either one will pull the other their way or the bond between them will be strained and break.
If you grew up in youth group, you heard at least one sermon preached on this, warning not to date non-Christians. Contrary to popular opinion, this passage isn’t about marriage or dating.
· Marriage is not mentioned anywhere here or in the context; it’s about relationship in general.
Specifically, it’s any relationship that deeply influences you and has the power to pull you from Christ – it may be a marriage or dating, but it could also be a friendship or business.
· In this passage, Paul is specifically talking about false teachers who are pulling the Corinthians away.
Who’s speaking into your life?
There are some relationships that have the power to guide and alter your course, people who can speak into life. These people must be Christians who share a common goal of glorifying God.
Because, when people are unequally yoked, the Christian seldom pulls the non-Christian closer to God, it’s usually the other way around. By being in the relationship, the Christian has already compromised, so they just continue.
· These yoked relationship has tremendous power in your life, so choose them very carefully.
1. They influence if you will move closer to God or drift away from him.
They can be a force encouraging you to draw closer to God, to desire him more and more, or they can make you more interested in the cares of this life.
· These “yoke fellows” will either reinforce your values or pull you away from them.
BTW: Another Christian can also pull you away. I have watch Christians slide away from God together, convincing each other that they aren’t sliding.
2. These relationships will also influence if you do what it right or wrong.
Q One example: What’s the deciding factor between a broken marriage that recovers and one that falls apart?
Frequently it is the people who speak into the couple’s life. On several occasions I have seen marriages that could be saved fall apart because friends.
· Whenever I do a wedding, I charge the congregation to “encourage the marriage.”
When you choose to have a close “yoked” relationship with a person that doesn’t share your values and is pulling you away from God, you are demonstrating God means less to you than them.
Q Does this mean that you cannot be friend with non-Christians?
Of course not. This contradicts Paul’s teachings elsewhere and his practice. What it means is that you shouldn’t be in any “yoked” relationships with non-Christians.
· But it does mean that you need to be very careful and intentional about who you yoke up with.
Q Who is speaking into your life? Make a quick list.
Do you respect their spiritual walk?
Do they demonstrate the ability to make good decisions?
Do they share your core values and beliefs?
Do you want to become more like them in some ways?
If the answer to these questions is “no,” then you know what you need to do you need to make some changes. Not necessarily breaking off a friendship, but that person cannot continue to speak into your life. You cannot be yoked to them.
To put it more bluntly, you have to decide which relationship is more important to you, them or God.
· By marrying these women, Solomon had demonstrated that he loved God less than them, so it was just a matter of time.
stemming the tide
At the beginning, I asked you to evaluate if you are drifting from God or growing closer to him. Now I want to ask you again. Maybe money or relationships are currents pulling you away.
· Maybe you have noticed something else.
· Maybe you aren’t drifting yet, but you noticed some dangerous attitudes about money or relationships.
If so, deal with it aggressively – the further you go, the harder it is to come back, and the more painful it will be.
· The more that money and success become your object, the harder it will be to desire God.
· The more you yoke yourself with non-Christians, the easier it will be to make other compromises.
Turn back, as quickly as you can: Repent, ask the Spirit to help you desire God more than anything else, turn to the community to help you.
Q & A