November 16 I Tuesday
“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.” —1 Kings 11:4
Solomon wrote three books of the Bible, but the three books could not be any more different. He wrote Song of Solomon when he was a young man madly in love with a woman. There, he talked about the joys of love, the meaning of it and the important place his young bride had in his life. Years later, Solomon wrote Proverbs, probably as a middle-aged man. This book is filled with a father’s advice to his sons about manhood, love and godly living—much of it influenced by advice his own father, David, had given him.
Ecclesiastes, however, was written by a much older Solomon, who had grown disillusioned with God and the faith of his youth. The book records the disappointments of a cynical old man, experiencing a joyless and meaningless life without God. Solomon had allowed his wives and concubines to turn his heart after other gods, and the result left a bitter taste in his mouth. He had experienced the joy and pleasure of a relationship with God, but now, giving in to temptation left him depressed and weary.
The sad reality is that though some people start off well, they do not finish well. As we grow older, we may begin to think that we have life all figured out. We start to let go of the earlier disciplines and restraints we adopted when we were younger, thinking we do not need them anymore. As we live life without these restraints, the boundaries are stretched further and further and our sin is rationalized more and more.
Solomon let go of his restraint towards sexual pursuits, marrying 700 women and having 300 concubines. As a king in the ancient Middle East, this was somewhat normal. There was a tactical advantage to having many wives, which Solomon probably thought excused his behaviour. Not only did having many wives make a king appear to be strong and fertile, but marrying the princesses of other kingdoms would help keep peace with neighbouring nations. Foreign leaders were far more likely to negotiate than go to war when their daughters were married into a rival kingdom.
There will always be rationalizations to let go of our previous restraints and fall into sin. We can easily come up with moral, political or philosophical reasons why a change in behaviour is excusable, but we are only fooling ourselves. Giving in to temptation hurts our relationship with God and makes it easier to give in to greater sins down the road. Temptation is common to all of us and the temptation to forgo our restraints is ever-present, which makes it essential we come before God daily to seek His strength in standing firm.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I confess the temptation to forgo my restraints is a daily struggle. Please give me the strength to stand firm by Your life living in me. Thank You, Lord.