Backsliding in the Latter Years
Robert Wurtz II
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11:4)
It is hard to imagine how the wisest man that ever lived, save our Lord Jesus Christ, could be deceived into serving other gods. Here is a man that when dedicating the Temple saw the Fire fall from heaven to consume the sacrifices and the glory of God filling the house. He wrote the vast majority of the Proverbs and at one time was the most powerful man in the Middle East. But something happened. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods.
Conventional wisdom would lend us to think that it is the youthful man that turns against God, sows his wild oats, and then later when he is old returns to God. Not in this case. Disobeying God started to catch up with Solomon. Striving to give himself to all manor of pleasures soon took their toll. He woke up one day and it seems that the glorious experience he once had in God was but a distant memory. As the cliche’ goes; ‘out of sight- out of mind.’ For years he was caught up maxing out the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Solomon had it all in super abundance. God had warned the future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:17, Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. Although familiar with these and other verses, Solomon somehow began to carry himself as if he were above the Law of God. This is very dangerous.
Examples Unto Us
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11, Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Paul spends several verses leading up to this passage showing the people at Corinth that they were capable of committing the same sins as did the Children of Israel. Pastor D.L. Burch used to say, “When you get out from under the hand of God, you don’t know what you are capable of.” Certainly we are capable of doing anything that happened in the Old Testament. That would seem impossible for the Born Again. Theology gets real fuzzy when sin comes into the picture. All the charts and graphs seem to break down. Yet the warnings are clear, all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition.
Above the Law
What was true in our youth will be true in our old age. Time does not shield us from the harsh reality that we still live in a sinful world and among devils plotting to take us out. The passing of sands in the hour-glass cannot assure us of a continued faith and trust in God; we have to go on working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart serving the Lord. We never get too old to obey God. He is not like our parents that we somehow reach an age that we gain our autonomy and do what we wish. We are forever subject to His precepts. If we ever get hardened and deceived by sin, we will soon believe we are above the laws of God. We can come to assume we can pick and choose what we have to adhere to. Solomon lived out this reality. The older he got, the more carnal he became; all the while maintaining his wisdom. A very sobering thing to consider.
Trappings of Old Age
One of the great dangers of gaining life experience is that many of them are very negative. Life experience can either be an asset or a detriment. How easy it is to become cynical. He easy it would be to become bitter. Why? Life has a way of hardening us. Pretty soon nothing surprises us. Disappointments and disillusionments with people can lead to the notion that almost everyone is a hypocrite. You might be tempted to believe that they are all fakes and pretenders. Nothing works anymore- everything is doomed to failure. Pessimism can take over and rule the mind. This is Solomon in Ecclesiastes. It’s all just vanity and vexation of spirit. What’s the use? These are the type of thoughts that can dominate the mind and sour us in this present evil world.
Keeping a Good Spirit
We have this passage in Hebrews 12:15, looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. It is a picture from Deut. 29:18 and a strong warning against the widespread destructiveness of sin. When a person gets a bad spirit and begins to grow cold in God, they are at risk of failing in the grace of God. The consequence? Not only they, but others can become defiled in the process. No man or woman is an island. There is a sense in which we are all connected together and when one goes down the others suffer as well. The solution is prevention. We have to maintain a good spirit. No matter what happens in life, no matter how many disappointments, no matter how many people backslide, we have to keep on serving God. We need to be renewed daily before the Lord. We need to allow God to go through and reset the dials and make sure we are ready to face each day fresh; not carrying over the misadjustments and baggage of yesterday. We need to be refreshed before the Lord each day and in so doing we can finish this race ready to be offered, having finished our course, having kept the faith.