Long Obedience in God’s Direction

A Good Start: You know something of King Solomon, right? Folks with some knowledge of Scripture and history may know tidbits of his life. He is referred to, in his early life, as wise: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt, For he was wiser than all other men …” (1 Kings 4:29-31). That was early on in Solomon’s life.

Solomon had the temple built in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3). His wealth grew to immense proportions (1 Kings 10:14-29). He had the ark of the covenant brought to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 5:2). He created beautiful architecture and landscapes in Israel by having artists and architects and designers design and create beautiful buildings, roads, and trees with meticulous detail (2 Chronicles 9). These were no small accomplishments.

A Compromising Middle: But Solomon was a sinner, too. He was far from a perfect ruler. He would not remain king. The perfect King would be later, the One would obey the Father’s will completely on behalf of all who believe. Solomon had a weakness for women (1 Kings 11). He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Scripture records that they “turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4). He erected idols. He not only allowed idolatry; he lauded it. He called evil good (1 Kings 11:7-8), and this from a man who began with such promise.

A Dark End: The remainder of 1 Kings 11 is a catalog of how Solomon’s compromises with sin cost him and his legacy and the nation and the world. False gods were worshiped. Foreign powers entered. Corruption characterized the nation. Solomon’s sons were wicked men. The kingdom split. The country’s wealth was squandered. Mob rule began. Despots arose. Exile occurred.

Segue: Recently at CNGC we had an event honoring our retirees. Community organizations came out to honor retired veterans and spoke to them about services and opportunities they have earned by virtue of their service. It was a sweet event, a compassionate one in my view. It was refreshing to see men and women who have contributed to this organization, who have made it and us, better. One of the most influential men in my life came. We spent much of the day together and I continued, as I’ve done for 15 years now, to pepper him with questions. “Sir, what have you learned? How have you seen the Lord’s providence through the years and now into retirement?” He sipped his coffee and in that deep pastoral voice, said, “Jon, to be who God calls us to be and trust Him with the results, as He sees more than we see. He sees the end from the beginning.” Yes and amen, sir, I thought. Yes and amen.

Takeaway/Encouragement: When we look at Solomon, we see a man who began well but who eventually fell very short due to his own sin, his unwillingness to kill it, and it (the sin) killed him, and much of the culture. But God also places those in our lives who demonstrate what faithfulness looks like, what long obedience in God’s direction, looks like. We all fall short; we all have sin in our lives. All except One. There is One who was made sin so that we might be declared righteous. “For our sake he [the Father] made him [the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [the Son] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the good news of the gospel, folks. The Righteous One was made sin so that we sinners who repent and believe upon the person and work of Christ are made righteous. It does not get better than that. Yes and amen. Yes and amen.

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