So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.
1 Kings 11:6 (NIV)
A number of years ago, Nickleback made famous a song that I have always thought was the perfect embodiment of earthly desires, and it’s catchy enough to be an earworm (my apologies):
I’m through with standing in line
To clubs I’ll never get in
It’s like the bottom of the ninth
And I’m never gonna win
This life hasn’t turned out
Quite the way I want it to be
(Tell me what you want)
I want a brand new house
On an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough
For ten plus me
(So what you need?)
I’ll need a credit card that’s got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet
(Been there, done that)
I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher and
James Dean is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)
I’m gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I’d even cut my hair and change my name
‘Cause we all just wanna be big rock stars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat
And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny in her bleach blond hair, and we’ll
Hey, hey, I want to be a rock star
Hey, hey, I want to be a rock star
With today’s chapter, the story of King Solomon’s rather amazing life comes to an end. His story started out so well and showed such promise. When given the choice, he asked God for wisdom rather than fortune and fame, so God said He would give Solomon both. As I get to the end of the story, I find that fortune and fame overpowered Solomon’s wisdom and led to foolishness.
What’s funny about this observation is the way I find Solomon continues to be revered by so many of my fellow believers. My perception of this is that most have never really read Solomon’s entire story. They only know the Cliff Notes bullet points that Sol asked for wisdom and God gave Sol everything he could possibly want. He was an ancient “Rockstar” who was both God’s man and got a life that compares to Nickleback’s lyrics.
Jesus talked a lot about the dichotomy between this temporal world and the eternal Kingdom of God. He also was quite direct about the reciprocal relationship between earthly fortune and eternal fortune. In fact, Jesus addressed the matter when a very Solomon-like individual approached Him:
One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.”
He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”
When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.”
“Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked.
“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
Luke 18: 18-27 (MSG)
In the quiet this morning, I have to confess that I have my own “Rockstar” fantasies though they look a little different than the Nickleback version. I am also conscious of the fact that my impression of wealth is always in relationship to the small percentage of earthly Rockstars who have way more of it than me. By that standard, I never think I’m wealthy. Yet, I am wealthy in relation to the vast majority of people on this earth that have far less than me. The conclusion is that it doesn’t take Rockstar wealth to lead me to Solomon-like, spiritual foolishness. It takes just enough to fuel discontent, fear, pride, greed, lust, and/or envy within me. Once that’s done spiritual wisdom can easily give way and can be overcome by foolishness.
“Wherever your treasure is,” Jesus said, “is where your desire is and where you’ll end up.”
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.