From early on, Solomon was a promising young man. He grew Israel to a nation of wealth and splendor. When God offered Solomon any gift he wished to receive, Solomon asked for wisdom.
It is from Solomon that we get the book of Proverbs, filled with insight and advice that is still very relevant today. Yet, by the end of his reign, Solomon had fallen from the good graces of God and his actions had created a political situation which, shortly after his death, would result in his beloved kingdom being fractured by civil war.
So, how was it that the wisest man to have walked the earth was misled so severely? Solomon's problem was not that he lacked wisdom, but that he simply couldn't do what he knew was right.
Solomon was the man who had the insight to write such words as, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take" (Proverbs 3:5-6). This was the Solomon who ignored the warnings of the Lord and married women of other nations, allowing his heart to be led astray by their gods, the Solomon of whom it is written, "Solomon did evil in the Lord's sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David had done" (1 Kings 11:6).
I hated this story growing up because it made me so annoyed. I just wanted to go back in time, take Solomon by the shoulders, and give him a firm shake. I wanted to tell him if he would only listen to himself, he would be saved a lot of trouble and heartbreak.
Yet, now that I am older, I know that I would be of no help to Solomon. I could have done nothing for him, and it is not because he was a hopeless case or too far gone. I could not help Solomon because in so many, many ways... I am Solomon.
I, like him, love the Lord and wish to serve him in all I do. I, like him, recognize many of the pitfalls of life and see how to avoid them. I, like him, have no trouble knowing right from wrong.
But I, like him, am often led astray by my wandering heart. I, like him, do not always do what I know is right. I, like him, am sometimes willing to ignore the voice of God and instead seek my own pleasures.
But I do not want my story to end like Solomon's. At the end of my life, I want to declare victory in the spiritual wars I have waged. I will not die a Solomon. I will leave a David, a Mary, a Paul. Through the strength of the Lord and the redeeming arm of Christ, I pray that I will have the courage to follow the words that Solomon himself once wrote: "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" (Proverbs 4:23).