Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bad love, bad end - and the Cross

So you're reading along in the story of King Solomon in 1 Kings, and it's pretty glorious reading. Good King David has a wonderful son, a godly man actually visited by Yahweh Himself. He asks for wisdom, and is given it in such a way that he stands head and shoulders above all the wise men of the East in his day. His works and his writings and his reign are glorious, blessed, and happy. What an idyllic scene.

And then you hit this:
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love (1 Kings 11:1-2)
I say "you hit this," but really, it hits you. What depressing reading.

But what a solemn and needed warning. Was any man ever so blessed as Solomon? God had visited and spoken to him, not once but at least twice (1 Kings 11:9). Yahweh had blessed Solomon in every way imaginable: spiritually, psychologically, materially, socially, martially, politically (1 Kings 10:23-29). Solomon was in the best shape a mortal could be in. He was poised to be the greatest mortal ruler in all history.

And yet, what was the outcome? What was the result of Yahweh graciously meeting every one of Solomon's needs? Did this abundance of blessing produce godliness, holiness, contentment?


Solomon's heart was weaned away from God by love — by love for the wrong women.

I wrote this in my Bibleworks notes at this point:
Listen up, my soul. You dream how great everything would be if only, if only, if only? Look at Solomon. Fear.
Nor was this simply a matter of folly. It was a violation of a specific command from God. What Solomon did was not merely stupid; it was immoral. It was wrong. It was wicked.

It was a sin against God.

Solomon could not have known all the misery that would come from his actions. But he knew it was rebellion against God. And, knowing that, he knew all he needed to know.

And so, for Solomon, healing could not come merely from regrets, nor from an inner, nagging, horizontal sense of guilt. He'd not deal with his acts merely by thinking of how he'd shamed his father (though he had), nor how he'd failed his nation (though he had), nor of how he'd made a fool of himself (though he had).

Solomon would need to see what he did as God saw what he did. He would need to see it first and foremost as a sin against God, as wrong because God said it was wrong. It was a crime against Heaven, it was rebellion against his King.

Solomon would need to come where his father did. David wronged his wives, he wronged his children, he wronged his nation, he wronged Bathsheba, he wronged Uriah.

Yet — though not denying any of that — what did David write, when brought to true repentance?
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment (Psalm 51:4)
What made David's sin sin, and not just mean or bad, was God. God said it was sin. That, and not human consensus nor enlightened self-interest, is what made it sin. As D. A. Carson has often said, in every sin, God is the most offended party.

Solomon would need to confront his sin in that dimension. Then he would need to go back and tear down all the works of his sin. He would need to tear down the idols, the altars, the dark and noisome fruits his rebellion had borne. He would need to "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8).

Hence the Cross of Christ, where sin was not bruised, wounded, beaten, nor injured. Christ did not feel faint for our sins. He did not get a headache for our sins. He did not catch a bug for our sins.

Christ died for our sins, and made an end of our sins, and destroyed the works of the Devil. In Him, we die to sin, and must reckon ourselves dead to sin.

In Christ, then, we find not only forgiveness for our sins, though (thank God!) we do find that. We find severance from our sins. We find liberation from our sins. In Him, we die to sin, and live to God. No one who lives on in his sin — whether its guilt or its power — can say he has encountered the Cross.

But who who encounters the Cross finds freedom both from sin's guilt and its power.

I close with the words of D. A. Carson
There are plenty of lessons. Be careful what, and whom, you love. Good beginnings do not guarantee good endings. Heed the warnings of God while there is time; if you don’t, you will eventually become so hardened that even his most dire threats will leave you unmoved. At the canonical level, even the most blessed, protected, and endowed dynasty, chosen from within the Lord’s chosen people, is announcing its end: it will fall apart. Oh, how we need a Savior, a king from heaven! (For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1 [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998], October 8)


Libbie said...

Oh that is good stuff. Knocks the stuffing out of those little whispering lies that suggest you're basically good and this particular sin isn't hurting anyone. Ouch and triple ouch.

Mesa Mike said...

> No one who lives on in his sin —
> whether its guilt or its
> power — can say he has encountered
> the Cross.

Good stuff indeed. That's good news. I can tell certain of my fellow Christians that there is no need to spend money going to "deliverance" ministries to get curses removed (you know, the kind that you accumulate because your grandaddy was a mason, or because you gave the Devil "legal authority" to oppress you because you -- or someone else -- said something out loud that didn't exactly bless you. Or maybe, like Eric von Zipper in those Annette Funicello beach movies, you accidentally gave yourself "the finger")

All you gotta do is come to the cross.

Oh, hey cool! RefTagger is working now. Yay!

DJP said...

Yes; m'man Phil Gons lovingly nagged me into it. Or shamed me into it. Either way, it's here.

Stefan said...

Argh! I just wrote a long comment, and Blogger ate it.

My question must be an old one. Was Solomon an Old Testament believer, like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, or David? Was he saved by grace through faith in the promise of the Christ to come?

We can't judge a man by his works, so the fact that he built the Temple (which was his father's idea anyhow) counts for nothing. And he built high places for his wives' "gods" in later life. And he sought to take Jeroboam's life, after he the Lord had called Jeroboam through Ahijah the prophet.

But his prayer at the dedication of the Temple in 1 Kings 8 certainly reads like a believer's prayer. And he is the author of 2 or 3 (I would say 3) books of Scripture. It would seem strange if the Holy Spirit used an unredeemed person to write some of the books of Holy Scripture.

Although later kings come in for a one-verse appraisal of whether they walked or did not walk in the ways of YHWH, the closest we come for Solomon is the Lord's judgement in 1 Kings 11:9-13 and the author of Kings' appraisal in 11:41-43. And all that the Lord did to preserve a remnant after Solomon's passing was expressly for David's sake, and not for Solomon's sake.

The reason I ask is because without repentance after his sin, the idea that he was still one of the redeemed might open the way for unscrupuolous advocates of free grace theology (???). On the other hand, the Lord did chastise Solomon most severely for his transgressions.

Please help me out here...

Stefan said...

2 Chronicles seems to give even less help. The whole sad end of his reign is not even recorded there.

Stefan said...

In hindsight, my question is probably a silly one. Of course he was one of the Lord's chosen people.

But the absence of a record repentance for his sin at the end of his life bugs me....

CR said...

Stefan:But the absence of a record repentance for his sin at the end of his life bugs me....

It should bug you Stefan. I mean I don't see nothing in the biblical record that shows his respentance. We know when the Lord begins a good work He finishes.

What we do know about Solomon, as Dan, pointed out, Solomon began good and ended bad. That's all I know.

I really appreciate this post of being reminded who should we pursue. The lure for "foreign" women (and men for women) for believers, is well, luring and seductive.

I think you make a good point when some say, how great everything would be if...if...oh, wait a minute, Solomon did have all the ifs and he went down pretty miserable.

Stefan said...

cr: Thanks for your thoughts.

Jay said...

No one who lives on in his sin — whether its guilt or its power — can say he has encountered the Cross.

Do you mean unrepentant sin, or sin period? Because I was under the impression that even though we have Christ, we will still struggle with sin - and will probably in some capacity sin every day of our lives (at least in thought if not deed).

DJP said...

The former, Jay. That's what I meant in phrasing it, "lives on in."

I picture two kinds of fish in a river. One isn't struggling. He's floating gently and peacefully towards the waterfall.

The other fights the current CONSTANTLY, since the current CONSTANTLY pulls him towards doom.

The latter is a picture of the Christian life.

A Christian doesn't embrace sin, saying "I am a thief, adulterer, homosexual, liar, murderer."

He says "I am a saint, a child of God — who fights the temptation to steal, break God's sexual laws, violate God's laws of truth, etc."

Hope that helps.

Jay said...

It does. I figured that's what you meant, but I was just making sure. :)