Summary: Solomon's life demonstrates the importance of staying the course.
Last February, the Atlanta Falcons took a 21-3 lead over the New England Patriots into the locker room at half time of the Super Bowl. They came out and expanded their lead to 25 points midway through the third quarter when quarterback Matt Ryan completed his second touchdown pass.
But led by their MVP quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots stormed back to tie the game at 28 all at the end of regulation and then went on to win the game in overtime. The 25-point comeback was the largest in Super Bowl history and Super Bowl LI was the first to be decided in overtime.
The Patriots demonstrated that what Yogi Berra had said over 40 years earlier – “It ain’t over till it’s over” – is indeed true.
The Patriots also demonstrated something that is very crucial to us as disciples of Jesus – the importance of staying the course and finishing well.
Most of us probably know someone who was once on fire for Jesus, but over time just kind of burned out and drifted away from God. It’s even possible that some of you here this morning have experienced that in your life. Maybe you would honestly have to say that as you sit here this morning, you’re further away from God than you once were and your love for Him is not as intense as it once was. And all of us here this morning are certainly susceptible to that happening in our lives.
This morning we’re going to look at the account of someone who started out on fire for God, who was blessed greatly by God, but who just didn’t stay the course and finish well at all. And the consequences of that poor finish didn’t just impact him or his family – it had a devastating effect on an entire nation.
By now, you probably know that I’m speaking of King Solomon.
Most of us know that after the promises that God made to David in 2 Samuel 7 that we looked at last week, David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed. Even though David repented after he was confronted by Nathan, the child that was conceived out of that union died in spite of David’s fervent prayers. But God, in His grace and mercy, gave David and Bathsheba another son named Solomon and promised that he would become king in fulfillment of the covenant God had made with David.
Starting this morning we’re going to be spending some time in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, so let me give you a brief overview of those books. Originally this was just one volume titled Kings. It was not separated into two separate books until the Old Testament was translated into Greek. The name comes from the fact that the reigns of forty different kings from both Israel and Judah covering a period of about 400 years are described therein. The events are not always chronological but are arranged according to a theological purpose. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are basically parallel accounts that provide additional insight and information about this period in the life of Israel.
As we’ll see this morning, Solomon was kind of like the Atlanta Falcons. He got off to a great start, but even then there were some hints that there were some chinks in the armor that were going to keep him from finishing well.
Solomon had a lot going in his favor, including the legacy of his father, David, who was described as a man after God’s own heart. Obviously David didn’t obey God perfectly, but he had a heart that was fully devoted to God. So when he sinned, he confessed that sin and turned back to God. On his deathbed, David summoned Solomon and shared these final words of encouragement and instruction:
When David's time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
(1 Kings 2:1-4 ESV)
That is a message that God would continue to speak into Solomon’s life throughout his time as king, but unfortunately, not one that Solomon would heed.