Sunday, May 24

The danger of success

Scripture: 1 Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9, Romans 6

Observation

1 Kings 10-11 describe Solomon’s unparalleled success followed by his failure and downfall.  It’s a story that is repeated many times by the kings of Israel.  They grow wealthy and powerful, but become proud and independent and forsake the Lord and disobey Him.

Solomon was wiser and wealthier than any king before or after.  The author goes to great lengths to describe the mind boggling wealth he accumulated and the glory of his kingdom.  For example, he accrued $1.4 billion worth of gold every year—this was back when a billion had some buying power!—so much gold that silver was considered worthless.  Everything in the description of his kingdom is over the top, designed to impress.  Solomon used all this wealth and power to expand his territory and to build, build, build.  All very impressive.

But Solomon ignored God’s clear command, married foreign women and worshipped their gods.  He abandoned the God who had given him success!  

The consequence: when his son took over, the kingdom was split in two, never to recover.  And in the years that followed, all that wealth that Solomon piled up was taken as booty by various conquering powers.  Everything he built was lost.    All because he abandoned God.  

He didn’t finish well.

Application

Several applications:

First, don’t let your success go to your head!  Remember that God is the source of your success in one way or another.  Yes, you may have worked hard—but Who gave you the gifts and abilities that you have?  We just finished watching “The Last Dance,” the documentary about the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan dynasty that won 6 NBA championships in 8 years.  My admiration for Jordan as a player grew—he was amazing.  But he seems to have forgotten where that talent came from.  He was blessed with unusual abilities and surrounded by people who helped him succeed.  Remembering that will keep you humble and grateful.  Forgetting that will make you proud—and that is the danger of success.  (I’m not anti-success!  I’m for it!  Just remember that you’re a turtle on a fencepost—you had help getting there!). Solomon forgot the Source of his success.  Don’t do that.  Don’t let your success go to your head.  Stay humble and close to God.

Second, stay true to the Lord.  David, for all his faults and failures, maintained his devotion to the Lord.  Solomon didn’t.  He started there, but didn’t finish there.  In the beginning, God appeared to him twice.  But Solomon seemed to forget that, and drifted away.  He ignored God’s warning and his foreign wives led his heart astray.  I want to stay true to Jesus my whole life!  I want to finish well!

Third, your decisions impact generations to come.  Don’t be short-sighted!  Solomon’s poor choices resulted in his son losing most of the kingdom, Israel being divided and never recovering, and eventually being conquered and taken into exile.  Millions were impacted.  History changed.  Your choices reverberate through the ages.  Your obedience to God will impact many—so will your disobedience.  Choose Jesus!

Prayer:  Lord, help us to learn from Solomon’s shocking example, and stay humble, obedient and close to You.