An important figure in the Old Testament was King Solomon. He started his life under the very best conditions, with rich talent. And yet, his life is a serious warning sign for us!
In his youth, we especially see in Solomon a deep piety and zealous love for justice. When he became king, he was faced with a great task, and he went to work with a happy heart. It was a pleasure for him to build a temple for God, and he put all his strength into it. His prayer on the day of the inauguration of the temple reveals a deep reverence and a subservient spirit. Over the years, his wealth and honor increased. His name became the byword for wisdom and reason. Many nations brought him gifts. Despite all these privileges, his heart remained true to God. During these years, he must have believed that he would go on living his life as a faithful servant to God until the end. But it turned out differently. Those who know his story know of the dark shadow that later spread over his life. We know how his luster vanished. It will serve us well if we realize the causes that led to his decline.
God had not changed. The change that led to this evil lay with Solomon himself. For political reasons, he married princesses from the royal houses of the surrounding countries. These wives were idolaters. They only regarded God as the national god of the Hebrews. They still followed their old religions and worshiped the gods of their peoples. Solomon resisted these influences for a long time. His heart was still faithful to God. But these influences continued. He was in daily contact with them, and little by little they gained hold on him. Thus we read: “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kings 11:4). The result was that the man whom God so honored became an idolater and publicly disgraced his Lord, drawing many of his people into the same web of idolatry.
What a lesson we have for ourselves herein! What a warning in this example! If young Christians today marry people who live in the sins of the world, the result is usually the same as that of Solomon. But it is not only through these connections that hearts are turned away from the Lord; there are many other things that will affect us as well if we are not vigilant. We are strongly influenced by the actions of others. Such influence continues to work, whether we are aware of it or not.
We also have an example of influence in the life of Jehoash (2 Kings 12). Jehoash was brought up by Jehoiada, the high priest, who was a godly man. As a result of this influence, Jehoash also became a man who feared the Lord. He was a pious king as long as he had a pious teacher and was under his positive influence. When Jehoiada died, other influences affected the king. He gave in, and instead of continuing to be a man of God, he became wicked.
Thus, his life experience runs parallel to that of Solomon. In their youth, they were virtuous and honorable, but in their later years of life, they dishonored God and themselves. That is why their sun turned into darkness and their way of life was defiled.
Given these two examples, it will do us good to pay attention to the scripture passage: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). When we serve the Lord, it is natural for us to believe that we will stay on the right path until the end. We do not think that we are going to give in to any influences that take us away from the Lord. But how many, like Solomon, have turned their hearts away from the Lord because of the influences to which they are exposed. Solomon himself says: “Keep your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23), but he failed to act accordingly. The silent, hidden work of those evil influences alienated his heart from the Lord without him truly realizing it. His love soon cooled, and his zeal declined. The God of Israel became only a god among the other gods.
Dear brother, dear sister, there are influences that surround you every day and every hour. Do you know what they are? Do you know what effect they have? Are you already aware of the consequences they have in your heart and life, in your thoughts, and in the attitude of your soul toward God? Do you defend yourself against every evil influence? Look into your life and see if there are any evil influences that you are gradually and subconsciously giving in to! Has the world inched closer to you during the past years? Is it more attractive to you than in past times? Does its pride and vanity, its light-heartedness, and its ungodly nature seem less offensive to you than before? Is sin more of a flippant matter for you than in the past? Does the Word of God have less of a hold on your conscience than before? Does the voice of duty in your soul still speak in the same clear tone, and does it find you just as willing to listen and follow? Are worship and prayer just as dear and satisfying to you as before? Is it a pleasure for you to sacrifice some of your goods to spread the gospel? Or has greed gradually crept into your heart until it took root? Do you love material things more or less than before? Is your consecration still as real and complete as in the past?
If you are lacking in any of these things, which influences are to blame? Examine your condition carefully! If you have wandered, turn back so that your heart does not turn completely from the Lord. See what influences are at work. Wake up and overcome these evil influences! Stand before God! Only in this way can you serve Him faithfully to the end and someday stand among the victors when the call will come for you to face Him.