Fame, Fortune, Falling Away!
Scripture reading for April 6th: 1st Kings 9-11
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” Proverbs 27:21
Fame and fortune bring lots of praise from the lips of men. Everyone wants to be around a famous person and the rich have many friends. These blessings can easily lead our hearts away from faith in the Lord and a vital relationship with Him. God warned the Israelites that when they entered the promised land and settled down and became prosperous, they would be tempted to forget God. (Deuteronomy 8:10-13) In a sense, prosperity and fame can be a more difficult test than sexual lust. Solomon found that this was true.
After Solomon finished dedicating the temple and achieving all he had desired to do, God appeared to him a second time. God promised that He would hear the prayers said at the temple and watch over it. God then warned Solomon against turning away from Him and going after other gods. (1st Kings 9:6-9) God understood the test that Solomon would face as his fame and fortune grew.
Solomon was soon headed down a wrong path. His heart was not obedient to the Lord. He left many of the Caanites in the land and put them in forced labor. Solomon married many foreign women and took 700 wives and 300 concubines from among the nations that the Lord forbid the Israelites to marry from. God had warned that their hearts would be led astray to idolatry and His Word is always to be trusted. (1st Kings 11:1-6) Solomon’s heart was not fully committed to the Lord and he did evil in God’s sight! He built high places for these gods of his foreign wives and they offered sacrifices, further angering God.
The result of God’s anger and Solomon’s drifting away was that God raised up adversaries against Israel. Hadad the Edomite and Rezon from Aram (Syria) were both hostile towards Israel. One of Solomon’s own officials, Jeroboam, son of Nebat, also rebelled against the king. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to Egypt.
What can we learn from all of this? We can easily see how our hearts can be distracted from the Lord by fame and fortune. We all think that it would be wonderful to have what Solomon or some other famous figure had, but we must be reminded of how are hearts are tested by this. The pride and power of prosperity can make one as drunk as wine! God is jealous (Exodus 34:14) and will not tolerate idolatry. This test brings out the worst in us from our sin nature. The Apostle Peter reminds us that when we suffer for Christ’s sake, we cease from sin and live for the will of God. Suffering is a test but it purifies us much easier. (1st Peter 4:1-2)
Pray today for someone who has fame or fortune, who is in a position of authority and influence. Pray for God’s grace to protect and keep that person–that he’ll not fall away and lead others astray.