Torchbearers for Christ
Saturday, December 15, 2018
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SPIRITUAL SUBSTITUTES

 
The story of King Solomon, the son of King David, has two entirely different phases. First there was the time when Solomon came to the throne as a young man, wisely counselled by David his aged father (1 Kings 2:1-3), and loving God with all his heart. He was humble, (vv.7-9), prayerful, and keen to please God in every way. In response, God gave him extraordinary wisdom, such that “men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).
 
The Lord made it clear to Solomon that continued blessing was dependent upon his continued obedience when He said, “If you will walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Solomon spent seven years building a magnificent temple for God, and when the work was finished the Lord appeared to him giving some rich promises of blessing provided he continued to obey God’s ways. God said “....if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness.....I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever” (1 Kings 9:4). The Lord also sounded a solemn note of warning saying, “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the decrees and commands I have given you, and go off and serve other gods and worship them, then will I cut off Israel from the land I have given them and reject this temple....” (1 Kings 9:6-7 NIV). So Solomon’s position was made quite clear: obey God and be blessed; disobey Him and be rejected.
 
Coming now to 1 Kings chapter 11, we have a very different situation where we read, “But Solomon loved many strange women.” These women were idol worshippers and when Solomon was old they turned his heart away from the true God to serve their idols. What a tragic end for a man who once loved the Lord and enjoyed His abundant blessing. We read that God was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, and told him that He would take the Kingdom of Israel from him (1 Kings 11:9-11).
 
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us how in his emptiness of heart he embraced many spiritual substitutes (Eccl. 2:1-11), but these left him empty, in despair and hating life. In fact he gets to the point where he says, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on all the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” He admits his folly, saying “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 2:11 NIV).
 
What a wretched ending to a life that had begun so well, and what lessons here for us all, particularly the awful possibility of losing our first love for the Lord Jesus (Revelation 2:4). Even the saintly apostle Paul tells us “But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
 
I think it is very appropriate to close with the following reading from Isaiah chapter 55, written over 2,500 years ago but so relevant to our day. It reads “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on that which is not bread and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me that your soul may live.....Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7).
 
Let us then make it our ambition never to be sidetracked by anything that might lessen our love for the Lord Jesus, but make it our first priority to “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way” (Colossians 1:10).
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has traveled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.