As a kid, we didn’t have TV at home, so going to my grandparents’ place was an opportunity to watch cartoons like Popeye and game shows such as Let’s Make a Deal. The difficult thing about the latter was that people had to choose between two unknowns—such as money in an envelope and an object behind a door—or between one known and another unknown that might be much better or much worse than what they already had.
Thousands of years ago, King Solomon was given a choice. In fact, lots of people in the Bible were given a choice which determined the whole outcome of their lives and the lives of others. But, unlike the game show, the options and their consequences were clearly stated from the start. Solomon went into this with his eyes wide open, the whole deal laid out on the table.
Solomon got to make two major choices in his life. First, at the outset of his reign, God appeared to him and offered him anything he chose. Because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth or fame, God gave him all of these! He treated him as a favored son, lavishing on him fabulous riches and renowned wisdom. He had everything he could wish for!
After some years, God presented him with another choice (1 Kings 9:4-9):
1) Live a life of obedience to God. The result would be a continuing dynasty that would reign forever over Israel.
2) Reject God and worship other gods. The consequence would be that Israel would be uprooted from their beloved land and made an object of ridicule, and the magnificent Temple he had just built would be a shambles.
Now, is that a hard choice? Who would choose the latter?
Yet, that is just what Solomon did as the years went by. He chose to marry wives from nations around him who brought their “detestable” gods along—gods that were worshipped by burning children alive and by lewd prostitution. Solomon not only tolerated this kind of worship by his wives, but he also turned his heart from the true God and participated in the disgusting worship of his wives’ gods. As a consequence, his glorious kingdom was divided as it passed to his son, and idol-worship became a constant problem as long as those two kingdoms lasted. Finally, God had enough of it and they were expelled from their land as He had said.
It’s enough to make one cry. Why, oh why would anyone choose to rebel against this loving and generous God and bring trouble upon themselves? Well, the story goes on in the headlines today, in our neighborhoods, and even in our hearts.
Each day brings its choices. Will my choices today be those that please or displease Him? Remember: God does not “tolerate” what He has forbidden. The consequences may be delayed out of His mercy, but they will surely come.