Turning Gradually…Away from God?
Well into his reign as king of Israel, Solomon worshiped God with great reverence. He wrote three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs for worship. He built a magnificent temple and dedicated it with worship and a classic prayer that could serve as devotional reading in most circumstances [1 Kings 8:22–54]. But by the end of his reign he had turned away from God, led astray by worshiping with several of his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
Tempted by Desire for Social Distinction?
This bible study examines Solomon’s experience and asks how a person of such wisdom and closeness to God could abandon his core belief and drift into idol worship. Did his extraordinary wisdom and wealth drive him to seek additional social distinction? Did he believe such distinction could result from marrying into every royal family he could find? He married seven hundred wives of royal birth, several from countries God forbid to Israel because they worshiped idols. Each of the wives likely arrived with a different religious agenda and presented unrelenting temptation to Solomon. Did he succumb to the temptations in small increments, each time believing his faith in God to be invincible even as he indulged in apparently harmless episodes of idol worship? In that case, his turning away from God would be gradual and almost imperceptible.
Feeling Universally Superior or Infallible?
The only point of these questions is to understand similar temptations that each of us may face and how we can prepare ourselves to deal with them. The temptation of multiple marriages is less likely these days. However, extraordinary wealth; knowledge; eloquence in preaching, teaching, or prayer; or other qualities could draw admiration to someone in a way that makes the person feel almost universally superior and infallible. In such a situation, and in fact, every situation, one needs to return to “basics” to guard against Solomon’s kind of experience.
“Basics” of Our Relationship with God
The basics? God created human beings in his image to represent him in interactions with other human beings and living and non-living inhabitants of the earth. We can take any action that conveys his image to the affected and observers but are prohibited from actions that do not convey his image. Therefore, evaluate every contemplated action to determine if and how it will convey the image of God. If you cannot convince yourself, then stop. The action is not authorized by God. If you convince yourself, then query your evaluation a few times before proceeding. Recall David’s evaluation prior to confronting Goliath: “and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” [1 Samuel 17:46]. This principle is universally applicable and if implemented right can help one identify actions that may result in sliding away from God.