Today’s reading was from 1 Kings 11. Here are some extracts:
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites,Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (v1-6)
9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (v9-13)
What stood out to me in these passages was the use of the word “nevertheless” which now I’m focusing on it, seems like a funny word. The meaning is, “Despite this…” or “Even bearing this in mind…”
Solomon’s “nevertheless” was a decision to sin by taking on foreign wives, even though God had warned him that they would lead him astray, dilute his devotion, and turn him to other Gods. As Solomon gets older, he seems to lose the will to argue with them and stem the tide of idolatry.
God’s “nevertheless” is a nevertheless of grace. Though Solomon has defied him and risked making the kingdom a laughingstock, he still has mercy. He will not remove the kingdom from Solomon himself, but from his son. And even then, he will spare a remnant.
How sad for Solomon’s son that it has now been predetermined that he will lose the kingdom. How typical, that when we sin, we fail to consider the effect it might have on others. Even our sins of self-indulgence, which we think affect no one but ourselves, have an effect, because we have become less than the person we should be – less devoted, less pure, less holy, less dedicated to God for his service. The more godly, Christlike version of us is surely more of a blessing and inspiration to others than the compromising, weakened self.
It’s ironic that Solomon’s sin is done in the name of love. Love is the ultimate trump card isn’t it? Even in today’s contemporary debates, love is trotted out as the ultimate qualifier: how can you deny people their right to express their love to each other? As this passage shows, love does not make something automatically right when God has forbidden it. Love is indeed a virtue, but to be exercised within the proper boundaries. How many marriages have been ruined because a spouse “fell in love” with someone other than their wife or husband?
To truly love someone means wanting God’s best for them, and as in Solomon’s case, that might involve restricting who we are allowed to love.
Unless our love and affection are expressed within the God-given parameters, we run the risk of giving love a bad name (sorry Bon Jovi). Love that is pleasing to God is directed appropriately. Not everything “in the name of LOVE” deserves to be pursued. Lock your heart when you should.
And as for marrying foreign women, may the Lord forgive me 😉