Solomon’s Cheating Heart

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 11.4-8
4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. 
7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

“Your cheatin heart will tell on you.” — Hank Williams

Reflection: Solomon’s Cheating Heart
By John Tillman

If we could ask God about “Solomon’s Temple,” there’s a good chance he’d respond, “Which one?”

Solomon was a temple builder but he did not only build temples for Yaweh. He built temples for the very gods that Israel has been warned about. Here, in this account we are told that he built temples for all the gods of his 700 wives. Temples for the Moabite god, Chemosh, and the Ammonite god, Molek, are mentioned specifically. The prophet, Ahijah, also mentions the worship of Ashtoreth and in 2 Kings, the description of Josiah’s reforms specify that Solomon also built a temple to Ashtoreth.

Solomon’s pursuit of pleasures and riches kept him from maintaining a heart that sought God as his father David had. Solomon gave his heart to wealth. He gave his heart to many, many different women. Eventually, Solomon gave his heart to foreign gods worshiped by his wives.

Scripture specifically tells us that Solomon’s wives led him astray. But “blaming the women” here is just as bad a take as Adam blaming Eve in the garden. We have to remember that many of these women were basically sold to Solomon as a part of diplomatic trade deals. They share the difficult life of Leah and Rachel, used as sexual bargaining chips in negotiations between powerful men.

God certainly doesn’t have harsh words for Solomon’s wives. It is Solomon’s heart that has turned away. He is held responsible by God. Not them. When we allow our hearts to stray from God, we may have a tendency to point the finger at someone else as well.

When we do this we condemn ourselves. It is our hearts, like Solomon’s, that go astray. Why do we give our hearts to others, to celebrities, to news media, to politicians? It is, perhaps, because we have failed to actually give our hearts to God.

What or who are you worshiping instead of, or in addition to, God?
What “Temple” have you built with the time and resources of your life?
Who is that Temple dedicated to?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. — Psalm 108.3-4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 11 (Listen – 7:05)
Philippians 2 (Listen – 3:45)

This Weekend’s Readings

1 Kings 12 (Listen – 5:15), Philippians 3 (Listen – 3:21)
1 Kings 13 (Listen – 5:14), Philippians 4 (Listen – 3:20)

Read more about Born to Serve
Jesus is the full representation of God, but he also represents what it means to be fully human: to live life completely in service of others.

Read more about Confessing Idolatry
Our hearts are deceitful, Lord. 
Point out our guilt and break down our idols.
Help us see and confess our sins, so similar.

Born to Serve

Scripture Focus: Philippians 2:5-8
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Reflection: Born to Serve
By Jon Polk

In what is traditionally known as the “Christ Hymn” in Philippians 2, Paul describes who Christ is, and by extension, who God is, and furthermore by example, who we should be.

Who is Christ? Christ was in his very nature God. He was God himself, even though he was uniquely human, too. 

However, Christ didn’t behave the way people expected gods to behave. In the first century, they were more familiar with the volatile, angry gods of the Greek pantheon, who used power to advance themselves or to subdue others. 

Gods didn’t live their lives in humility. Gods didn’t come among their people as servants. And gods especially didn’t sacrifice their lives for the sake of their subjects. 

Paul writes that Christ took the very nature of a servant. He uses the Greek word doulos, which is more properly translated “slave.” A slave existed in servitude to others without advantages, rights or privileges.

Christ became nothing. He emptied himself by pouring out his grace to others. He humbled himself by entering into relationship with lowly humans. He obeyed death, freely giving his life.

Who is God? God’s strength is not in his ability to manipulate or subdue his subjects, but in his willingness to take on the form of his subjects. Not only does God condescend to human form, he chose not to come as a ruler or king but a servant.

Jürgen Moltmann writes in The Crucified God, “God is not greater than he is in this humiliation. God is not more glorious than he is in this self-surrender. God is not more powerful than he is in this helplessness. God is not more divine than he is in this humanity.”

Who should we be? Paul states we should “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Not only does Christ present us with a radical picture of who God is, he presents us with a radical challenge about who we should be: humble servants giving ourselves on behalf of others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “The church is the church only when it exists for others… It must not underestimate the importance of human example which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus.” 

Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. For certain, none of us could ever be sinless and perfect, but that’s not the example that Paul wants us to see. Jesus is the full representation of God, but he also represents what it means to be fully human: to live life completely in service of others. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
From this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. — Luke 1.48

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

1 Kings 11 (Listen – 7:05)
Phillipians 2 (Listen – 3:45)

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Read more about He Stoops to Raise
Christ’s entire life could be understood as a process of descending and ascending. He goes from the highest place, to the lowest place. And then, he ascends.

Read more about Sacrifice of Self
Ultimately we have been called to imitate our self-sacrificing savior, Jesus, by giving of ourselves to do good for the benefit of others.