He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.
And sure enough, they led his heart away from the LORD.
1 Kings 11:3 nlt
While listening to a baseball game on the radio, I heard one of the cleverest commercials that I have heard in a long time. It was advertising a program to help with gambling addictions and it featured a man and his dog. The man was walking down the street inviting everyone he saw to pet his dog and no one would. Finally, one of the people he asked replied with a series of questions.
“You do know your dog is green, right?”
“And you know he lots of extremely sharp teeth, right?”
“…With a really, really large mouth?”
“That’s my dog!”
“Then you must also know that you ‘dog’ is actually an alligator, right?”
“My dog is an alligator?!”
The idea is that everyone around the guy can see that it is an alligator, not a dog. Everyone except for the “dog’s” owner, that is. The dog’s owner was so convinced that what he loved, cared for and owned was a dog that he was blind to the truth. What a powerful way to view addictions and problems in life! I cannot even begin to count how many times I have thought I was being one thing when the reality was the complete opposite. When I was told the truth, resolving the problem was simple, compared to before, when I was in the dark.
Solomon, the wisest man alive, struggled with identifying and resolving his own weaknesses. Unfortunately, he followed in the footsteps of his father David’s struggle of loving and marrying many different women. It began at the very beginning of his reign, before he had been granted God’s wisdom. In 1 Kings 3:1, it says: “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters.” This was a dangerous thing to do because the Egyptians worshipped false gods. Now Solomon had united himself with a woman who follows a different set of values from that of the One True God. Then he continued to marry many, many more women of differing beliefs. He believed he was strong enough to love and marry these women without loving and marrying what they believed. Unfortunately, over time, he grew weak and united with these women in a physical AND spiritual sense. Look what happened:
“The LORD had clearly instructed his people not to intermarry with those nations, because the women they married would lead them to worship their gods. Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. And sure enough, they led his heart away from the LORD. In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship their gods instead of trusting only in the LORD his God, as his father, David had done.” 1 Kings 11:2-4
At first, he kept his relationships and his faith separate. Over time, however, he grew weaker and more tolerant. Eventually, he was the one constructing alters to these foreign gods for worship. Who would have guessed that the wisest man on earth would be susceptible to these weaknesses? He refused to see that his love for these women was actually causing a spiritual blindness. This “dog” of his ended up biting him in the butt with his huge, green alligator chompers.
What am I blind to in my life? What dangerous, untamed issues am I exposing myself to, all the while believing that it’s a merely a domesticated situation at my full command? Unfortunately, for Solomon, his “alligators” led him to break his covenant with God and distance him from that closeness. Even with all the wisdom one man could ever possess, there are still ways we trip and stumble without our friends, family and faith holding us accountable. I will remember this the next time I am tempted to do life “all by myself.”
Challenge: Ask someone close to me, who I respect – someone living a life of grace and truth – to share with me the dangers they see me living with. When I hear the answer, I will remember to resist the urge to call the danger a dog, rather than seeing it as an alligator.
Dear Lord, thank you for sharing Solomon’s story with me. Let his weakness encourage me to open my heart and eyes to my weakness. May you always place people in my life who will offer me your wisdom in humility to keep me sharp and devoted only to you. Keep me from defending the alligators in my life. Amen.