Honestly, I read the words on the page and it strikes a certain fear in me. If it could happen to him, why couldn’t it happen to me?
It’s not like the pressures of getting by day-to-day were causing him to cave–he had everything he needed, and more. Not like cultural consensus was applying a peer pressure he was tempted to succumb to–he was top of the food chain. Not like his enemies were constantly nipping at his heals compelling him to lean on his own devices for a way out–he lived in a time of peace such as hadn’t been seen for centuries. And he certainly wasn’t cognitively compromised–he was the smartest, wisest guy in the known world. And, to all this, add the fact that, on not one but two occasions, God Himself had appeared to him. Twice! Two life-changing encounters of the divine kind. Glory of God / Voice of God types of encounters.
He had it all. He knew it all. You could argue he had experienced it all. So like I said, if it could happen to him, why couldn’t it happen to me?
For when Solomon was old his wives 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.
(1Kings 11:4 ESV)
Happened to Solomon, why couldn’t it happen to me? Not the thousand wives thing (11:3), but the heart turned away after other gods thing?
Not that I’m any Solomon, either. Don’t command a lot of power. Probably of average brain. And neither my net worth, nor my position of influence, compares with his. But, like him, I have to admit I live a life of relative ease, I don’t have to worry about where my daily bread is coming from, and, though with the eyes of faith, I’ve seen the incarnate God. Oh yeah, one more thing, like Solomon, I’m definitely more on the “old” side of the continuum than I am the “young” side.
And that’s what frightens me: that someone who knew God like Solomon knew God; that someone who was blessed of God they way Solomon had been blessed of God; that someone who was as immune to outside pressure as Solomon was; that someone like that could turn his heart away after other gods when he was old.
Certainly there’s something about prosperity that can make someone susceptible to idolatry. But add age to the mix, and I’m wondering if that doesn’t increase the temptation by some x factor.
You’re in your twilight years, time to kick back a bit. You’ve paid your dues, time for someone else to pick up the slack. You’ve been through the school of hard knocks, learned a thing or two, what more do you need to learn? You’ve wrapped a good chunk of your life around family, work, church . . . time for some me focus. You’ve sacrificed, now maybe you owe it to yourself to indulge a bit. And what’s happened? You’ve let down your guard.
You get distracted. By your pleasures. Your pursuits. Your idea of what the “retired life” should look like. All the while the flesh still wars against the Spirit. The lion is still seeking someone to devour. The deceiver is still working his clever schemes. And what’s at risk? The heart.
David wasn’t a perfect man, but his heart was wholly true to the LORD. He got tripped up in sin and failed big time. But he never stopped seeking and submitting to his God. David’s son, though he had run so well for so long, didn’t finish the way his father did. In his old age, his heart was turned after other gods. Ugh!
Happened to him. It would be folly to think it couldn’t happen to others. Arrogant, to think that it couldn’t happen to me.
So, what do I do?
Determine, with a holy determination, to not let down my guard, to not succumb to any worldly idea of what “freedom” looks like in retirement. Continue to run, by His enabling, the race I’m still running, still pressing on for the imperishable prize. Continue to fight, with His power, the good fight still before me. Continue to seek first, through abiding in His presence, the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Guard my heart. Fix my eyes. Delight in Him above all things.
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.