In every generation are giants in the faith who fall after years of service in the ministry. Whether local pastors or major television personalities, their stories are splashed across the media, and their circumstances, secrets, and salvation are debated.
Our reactions tend to vary. Some of us quietly turn our heads, hoping to be polite by not drawing further attention. Others of us are intrigued by the circumstances and eager to know the details. Still others are sad, angry, or feel betrayed. Regardless of how we react, one thought is particularly dangerous—looking down at our fallen brother or sister and thinking, That would never happen to me.
Let me be clear: we are never in more trouble than when our judgment takes the form of perceived immunity.
Someone recently put the book of 1 Kings in front of me. For those of you who are as ignorant about this section of Scripture as I was, it covers the change in rule from David to Solomon as well as a heaping bunch of details about Solomon’s reign as king.
Solomon has always sat in one of those “favorite biblical character” spots in my mind because he penned the wisdom found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. As the beloved son of David and Bathsheba, he seemed to be the nicely bow-tied answer to the mess David got himself into the generation before. God chose Solomon to build the temple at Jerusalem. Solomon received two in-person meetings with God. And he was blessed with the distinction of being the wisest man who has ever lived and will ever live. In addition to giving him this exceptional gift of wisdom, God also saw fit to bless Solomon with wealth and honor that had “no equal among kings” (1 Kings 3:13 NIV). Both inside and out, he was fully equipped to be the best king Israel had ever known. And for a good long while, he was.
On the whole, for the first ten chapters of 1 Kings, Solomon is kicking butt and taking names for God. The written material he has produced and the work he has accomplished are absolutely staggering. He’s ruling his people with great discernment, and the kingdom is thriving. However, just after we’re told how he completes the temple at Jerusalem, knocking out the biggest blessed project God entrusted to him, the text starts to reveal previously unnoticed chinks in Solomon’s armor. For one, Solomon had an issue with the ladies.
Despite having his every physical and spiritual need met in abundance, Solomon decided he also needed women. Lots of women. Scripture tells us he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. They were foreign women from foreign lands who worshiped foreign gods. They were “from the 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’” (1 Kings 11:2 NIV).
And that’s exactly what happened. Just as God said. Solomon the great and blessed king turned away from God.
What a strange ending to a great beginning.
What sobers me most about Solomon is that over and above all the splendor in his life, God had blessed him with more discernment and wisdom than any of us will ever have—and yet he fell. Hard. His desire for those women and their gods blinded his wisdom and replaced his love for God. The back end of his life became a shattered mess that only vaguely resembled its former self.
Suffice it to say, Solomon did not end well. And if he wasn’t above it, then neither are we.
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