Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a frightening sentence

I am reading through 1 Kings and just wrapped up reading chapter 11.  We learn in the previous chapters that Solomon built a temple for the Lord, which was something his father David had on his heart to personally accomplish. He didn't get to do that; instead his son Solomon had that privilege.  Solomon took great delight in carrying this project out.  He was meticulous with the details.  He blesses the Lord in chapter 8 and dedicates the temple to the Lord and his prayers and petitions for his people are faith-filled.

At the close of Chapter 8, Solomon gets up from his knees and stands to bless the assembly of Israel, ending with this benediction: "Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day." v:61  They offered sacrifices to the Lord and they feasted and celebrated for seven days.  On day eight, they went back to their homes joyful and glad in their hearts for all the goodness that the LORD had shown them.

In chapter 9, the LORD actually appears to Solomon a second time and confirms that He has heard his prayer and then exhorts him to walk with integrity of heart and uprightness, being careful to keep His commands.  He warns Solomon not to turn aside from following Him and commands him not to serve and worship other Gods.

Solomon is a wise man, right.  We are told in Chapter 10 v.24 that "...the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind."  Solomon wasn't just wise - he was filthy rich!  God had blessed this man big time.  There was nothing he needed - nothing.  Nada.

There was something he wanted though.  And what he wanted was the very thing God told him he could not have.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh:  Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods."  v.1-2

The very next sentence is frightening:  "Solomon clung to these in love." v.2

And God was right.  They turned his heart away from the LORD and toward other gods.  The wisest man that ever lived was not walking in the wisdom he knew so well.  He knew what God had commanded him and he knew what the consequences would be because God made that crystal clear.  Solomon knew the goodness of the LORD.  He experienced it daily.  He was prosperous and respected by everyone.  Yet he clung - in love - to the very thing that God said was off limits.

As a Christian in 2008.  As a wife and mom and homeschool teacher.  As a sister, as a daughter, as a friend.  As a foster mom.  As a pastor's wife.  As a woman.  As a human being - this portion of Scripture is sobering.  How easily I drift, especially in "prosperous times", to things that draw my heart away from the Lord.

John Piper offers a helpful prayer from his book "Roots of Endurance".  I read this at the beach this summer and have sought to pray these words often.  They have helped me as I hope they help you!
Let your goodness, O God, bind my heart with a chain to You!  Seal my will to yours with an unbreakable application of your eternal covenant.  Keep me!  Preserve me!  Defeat every rising rebellion!  Overcome every niggling doubt!  Deliver me from every destructive temptation!  Nullify every future allurement!  Shape me!  Incline me!  Hold me!  Master me!  Do whatever must be done to keep me trusting You and fearing You till Jesus comes or calls.


  1. that is a strong prayer Piper is praying. I am not sure that I have the courage to pray that, because I know that I also cling to vain or stupid things in love. As you said, sobering things to think about. Thanks for writing Trace!

  2. Add this statement to the beginning of the prayer: Lord, I don't even want to pray this prayer in my own strength....but help these very words become my heart's desire.