Solomon left a radically different legacy than his father David had.
King David was far from perfect. He committed some grievous sins. But whenever any passion or allegiance threatened the place of God in his life, David let God expose it, and David turned from it. He lived in God’s presence with a pure heart. He bequeathed to the generations after him a legacy of wholehearted devotion to the Lord.
Solomon squandered that legacy. He let other passions steal his heart. After Solomon died, the kingdom split, as God had said it would. Jeroboam, first king of the Northern Kingdom, built two golden calves and told the 10 tribes, “Here are your gods.” The people over whom Jeroboam reigned had lived 40 years under King Solomon. They had seen his wisdom, his riches, his fame – and his divided heart. With that kind of example, they surely felt they could worship those calves – and worship the Lord too.
Solomon suffered dire consequences as a result of his choices. He accumulated everything – to find that it all meant nothing. He denied himself nothing – only to find his life void. He expressed his desolation in the extended wail we call Ecclesiastes. Yet, seeing the emptiness – and knowing the solution – Solomon stayed on that desolate track.
The people of Solomon’s day didn’t see his inner woe. They didn’t recognize the domino effect his choices had, the dire generational consequences his sin would bring. The people saw and hated the harsh way Solomon had treated them. Yet they saw and wanted Solomon’s wealth and clout. They severed themselves from the rule of Solomon’s line – yet continued to pursue Solomon’s double-minded ways.
As did their children. And theirs.
When Elijah stood before the people on Mt. Carmel and cried, “How long are you going to try to have it both ways?” no one answered. A generation who had grown up watching their parents and grandparents do what Solomon did had come to accept half-hearted worship as the norm.
Solomon left a legacy, all right. His life made it seem that God’s people can worship the true God and other gods of their own choosing, indefinitely, without consequence. Solomon’s life made it seem there’s no compelling reason to have to choose.
That’s a lie, of course, but an extremely seductive one. In the case of Israel, we can see the lie from the vantage point of the long look back. Yet we ourselves can believe the same lie, and live accordingly, and not see it at all.
Any of us can start well – only to find ourselves on the same path Solomon took. Any of us can live a lifetime experiencing, and denying, the tragic consequences of trying to worship God with a divided heart.
I bless you with learning from a king who did not.
From The Elijah Blessing: An Undivided Heart, © 2012 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.