The Bible recounts the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah- some good, some bad; but the most tragic are those who started well, only to falter, later in their lives. Today we examine three such kings and study what led to their downfall.
- Solomon: unrestrained pleasure- The most dramatic fall was that of Solomon, who started extremely well and built upon the great achievements of his father David and took Israel to the peak of its glory. Solomon himself was unparalleled in splendor. The Bible states, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” (1Kings 10:23). However toward the end of reign, he had much strife in his kingdom and as soon as he died, the kingdom was torn in two. The reason for his downfall is stated explicitly in 1Kings 11:4; “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”
Solomon had a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines and among them were many from nations that God had forbidden the Israelites to marry. His motive in doing so would have been perhaps to project power, but primarily pleasure-seeking. Often man thinks nothing of pleasure, which all men seek, but it is important to remember that pleasure outside the bounds of what God has permitted comes with a spiritual baggage, that can turn man away from God. God created pleasure for man to enjoy, but within the bounds of what is permitted. The moment you step outside those bounds, you risk exposure to fall from God’s grace and his presence, which is the source of all blessings. Solomon despite his wisdom, could not see that coming and ended with a downfall.
- Joash: bad counsel- Joash became the king of Judah, because of Jehoiada, the priest, who was also his aunt’s husband. Saved from his murderous grandmother, and guided through the early years of his life and his kingship, King Joash flourished with Jehoiada’s counsel. ‘Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest’ (2Chronicles 24:2). However when Jehoiada died, Joash gathered counselors who turned him away from God.
The summary of the story of the kings of Israel was that when they were faithful to God, they flourished, but when they turned away from God, disaster overtook them. From being a successful king, Joash went to being invaded by the army of Aram and being murdered by his officials. The character of a man is known by the nature of his friends; and who you listen to has a profound effect on you. Gathering around you people who fear the Lord and share your desire for God is a recipe for success in life. No matter how attractive the alternative might be, disaster lurks in the neighborhood.
- Uzziah: pride- The grandson of Joash, Uzziah started well. 2Chronicles 26:2 states, ‘As long as he sought the Lord, God gave his success’. Further down in the narrative, it states, ‘his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful (v8).’ This was no mean feat as he had taken over a depleted kingdom of Judah that was in shambles. However ‘after he became powerful, his pride led to his downfall’ (v16). His latter life was spent in isolation, excluded from public life because he became leprous, in those days being equivalent to being an untouchable.
Pride is at the root of all sin and embodies the very nature of Satan. While humility declares your complete dependence on God, pride declares your independence. While humility captures the very essence of the creation wherein man has been made to live in total submission to and dependence on God, pride promotes rebellion from that reality and transports you from life to death. While humility always sees God on the throne, pride sees self on the throne. If there is one sin that man needs to flee from, it is the sin of pride.
The story of these three kings is tragic, yet instructional for one who starts well and desires to also end well.
- THE ESCALATION OF FAITH
- AWE AND WONDER