Role models. Examples. Influencers. Heroes. Swifties. Okay, perhaps that is going a bit too far in light of the urban dictionary definition of the term as obsessive fans who know everything about Taylor Swift. A recent news story indicated that more young girls are watching football (at least Kansas City Chiefs games) since Taylor Swift is dating Travis Kelce. It is not that important, but only serves to make a point – the power of influence. There is a big difference between hero worship and having heroes that truly inspire.
Read it and weep: “And the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded” (1 Kings 11:9–10).
The fact that these two appearances are mentioned in connection with Solomon’s decline is significant. 1 Kings 3:5 and 9:2-9 give us the record of both appearances. In the first appearance God assured him of incomparable blessing because of the wisdom he had chosen. The second appearance came as a warning that with advantage comes responsibility. You would think that if God actually appeared (in a vision) to you twice, that alone would be enough to solidify your faithfulness to him. That would be power enough to ward off any temptations that might come your way. It serves to underscore the fact that success at any point in life (materially or spiritually) is no guarantee of continued loyalty to God. The best advantages do not guarantee immunity from disaster. Faithfulness to God is a daily pursuit for each of us – that is a wisdom for which there is no substitute!
For all of his faults David was a good role model to his son. Solomon, however, was not wholeheartedly devoted to God the way his father had been (1 Kgs. 11:4, 6). Of course, your mind goes back to 2 Samuel 11 and David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. And you wonder, “How was David’s heart fully devoted to the Lord during that time?” If we tried we could call to mind many other faults with David. Nobody ever said that David was squeaky clean, but he was first commandment faithful. He did not step into idolatry by going after other gods. That, however, did not keep Solomon from idolatry. Our takeaway from this is that good examples do not insure infallible outcomes.
1 Kings 11:10 affirms that God had warned Solomon about idolatry, yet Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. Why not? He had every advantage! God had appeared to him twice. God had warned him directly about potential dangers. He had the good example of David, his father. Would you say that Solomon was well taught in this matter?
Sometimes we hear people bemoan the current lack of real heroes today. We regret the fact that modern heroes are limited to sports figures, singers or celebs whose moral fiber maxes out at zero. As a child of the 1950’s and ‘60’s the “heroes” I remember were the Lone Ranger & Tonto, Roy Rogers, Willie Mays and Superman. Yes, TV had its influence then too. When I went to college my heroes became gospel preachers or the past or present about whom I could only read in books. In recent decades our culture has turned to tearing down our national heroes. Yes, they were the products of the flawed thinking of their times. For that reason alone they are destroyed before all of us.
We hear social analysts argue that education is the key to a better world. That is, if people are only informed about danger they will avoid it. If only our kids know that drugs will fry their brains, the dangers of gang violence, alcohol, premarital sex, pornography, bullying, etc., then, they will stay away from such things. Really? We assume that if they only teach their kids Bible doctrine they will follow Jesus and never fall away. But Solomon fell away, even with God as his teacher. Young people must be taught God’s will and way. The time will come when they act out the choices they have made. Some of those choices may leave you reeling in despair and confusion. You will say, “That is not the way they were brought up! They know better!” Solomon knew better!
The children in a congregation need heroes that they can appreciate and emulate. They need examples they can look up to for inspiration. A congregation’s rightful heroes are its overseers. They are the leaders who are “examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3). They feed the flock and lead the church in every good work. Looking to them, a congregation will learn what stewardship means, what loving souls involves and how to be servant leaders.