He crossed the line. Eventually Solomon’s unlimited wealth and unbridled passion caught up with him, “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” (1Kings 11:4). The progression is clear: first, his heart was “turned away” after other gods; then, he “went after” others gods (11:5); and finally, the man who could pretty much do whatever his heart wanted, then “built a high place” for others gods (11:7). Bottom line? “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (11:6). Bottom of the barrel bottom line? “The LORD was angry with Solomon” (11:9).
God, who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6), was angry with Solomon. His patience had run out. And to be clear, God’s anger for Solomon was not because he “slipped up” or erred in this way once or twice. Solomon had fallen into perpetual, habitual sin. And for that, the anger of a just God demanded action.
Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.”
(1Kings 11:11 ESV)
Habitual, unrepentant sin, demanded just consequence. The kingdom would be taken from Solomon. Yet, not all the kingdom.
“Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David My servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”
(1Kings 11:12 ESV)
God had promised David, a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22), an eternal throne (2Sam. 7:16). And though his son, Solomon, forfeited the right to sit on the throne because of unrepentant, persistent rebellion against the express commands of God, yet for the sake of another, for the sake of David God’s servant, God would leave a remnant to be ruled by the house of David. Because of God’s promise to David, He was merciful, and gracious, to the descendants of David.
And it overwhelms me a bit as I consider how this plays out with the Greater David, the ultimate heir to the throne, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God and, with the sinner saved by grace sitting in this chair.
I am Solomon. Oh, maybe not to the excess of Solomon (I couldn’t afford it). Maybe not with the persistence of Solomon (did I mention I couldn’t afford it). And, I don’t think, with a heart turned away like Solomon’s. But I have failed to keep the commandments. I have stumbled in trying to walk in His statutes. My heart has been turned to gods which are not gods — too often, if not to external gods, then to the god of self. Should God call on me to give an account based on my ability to walk in His ways, I’m done like Solomon.
Yet, for the sake of Another, for the sake of the Greater David, Jesus, God determines to be merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
I have been called of the Father and betrothed to the Son, and the Father has promised the Son that none which He has been given will be lost (Jn. 6:37-39). Thus, when I fail to walk as I should walk, it is for the sake of Christ that He preserves me. When I fail to repent as I should repent, for the sake of Christ He merciful disciplines me. When I stumble because of the weakness of the flesh, because of Jesus He restores me. God’s goodness to me yet, not because of me — but for the sake of Another.
The One who owns me as His bride. The One who died to atone for my sin. The One who is risen and now lives in me and through me.
The work God has started in me, He will complete in me (Php. 1:6). For the sake of Another.
By His limitless grace. All for His everlasting glory.