There are so many, I know. Heartbreaking stories, moments where you read them and you can barely hold it together. Recently, I was reading through 1-2 Kings and came across one of them—1 Kings 11:4.
“When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods,” wrote its author.1 “He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been.”
Solomon was the wisest man to ever live, given the gift of great wisdom so he could rule wisely. And wisely he did. During his life, Israel knew unprecedented peace and prosperity, respect and admiration. But it would not last. Solomon turned away to follow other gods. He had wisdom to rule, but his wisdom was overcome by his passions. He had hundreds of wives, whom he loved deeply. He cherished them. He clung to them (see 11:2). They captured his heart, and before he offered a sacrifice to a false god, he was already enslaved to an idol.
And that’s why this is so sad in so many ways—why it’s so tragic. If anyone would be able to avoid being led astray, it would be Solomon. After all, he was the wisest man ever. People marveled at his proclamations (and still do). There was no one else like him, ever. But even his wisdom could be corrupted. His heart could be drawn away, just as any of ours can. The wisest man in the world is not one whose example we should follow. The wisest man in the world became a fool. The wisest man in the world could not save himself. He needed a savior, too.
And if there’s any good news to be drawn from Solomon’s story, it’s that. Our gifts, whatever they are, are just that—gifts. We may be wise or knowledgeable. We may be compassionate and hospitable. But in the end, our gifts won’t be enough to keep us from stumbling. We need something else—we need Someone else. Not just a wise man, but a man whose wisdom can never be corrupted because he is its source. Not only a great king, but the King of Kings whose kingdom can never be stripped away. A man who cherishes his bride, but whose heart cannot be turned away from his greatest love—his Father. Jesus is the Savior we need. He is the only one who can save.
- Historically, Jeremiah is said to be the author of 1-2 Kings, but I suppose, just as is true of the author of Hebrews, only God knows. ↵