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We thank You for the cross tonight, O Lord, that it’s an empty cross and that You’re in heaven tonight interceding on the behalf of each one of us here. Lord, as we look into Your Word we pray, indeed, that You would open up the eyes of our heart that we may see these things here that we need to know. We pray, O Spirit of God, that You would anoint Your servant and may he make much of Christ. O Spirit of God, do Your __ work here, we pray in Your name. Amen.
Take your Bibles and turn with me to 1 Kings, chapter 9. We are going to see tonight the Lord appearing for the second time to Solomon. 1 Kings, chapter 9.
Bill Norris writes a tragic account that resulted from drifting. He wrote two young men were fishing above a low dam on a river near their hometown, and as they were concentrating on catching fish, they were unaware that they had drifted until they were not far from the water flowing over the dam. When they realized their situation, the current near the dam had become too powerful for them to keep their boat from going over. Below the dam the water was dashing with strong force, over great boulders and through crevices in the rocks. Caught by the swirling waters, under the rocks, they never came to the surface. After days of relentless searching, the divers finally found one body, and then two or three days later, the other body.
The danger of drifting is not just limited to the physical realm. In Hebrews chapter 2, verse 1, we find a warning against drifting. We must pay most closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.
It’s not uncommon for Christians to drift towards destruction. As we see tonight in 1 Kings chapter 9, Solomon enters the second half of his reign. Now when we think about this article just read by Bill Norris about drifting, there are several characteristics about drifting that applies both to the physical realm and to our realm as Christians as children of God.
Drifting requires no effort. You just stop rowing or tracking against the wind and you’ll begin to drift. The same is true for Christians, which is why we’re told in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 1, we must give the more earnest heed.
Drifting requires no effort. It is an unconscious process. It is possible to drift unaware. In a boat, as we just heard, the undercurrents are often unnoticeable from the surface. In a plane, the wind or the gravitational forces move the plane without realizing it. Flying back last week from Rome to Philadelphia to Charlotte, in the air for over 8 hours, you kind of lost thought that you were up in the air and that the force of the wind was taking you across two bodies of water.
Well, the same is true in the spiritual realm. It is possible for Christians to slowly drift away. Many churches, sad to say, have gradually drifted into error only one day to find themselves far removed from the Scriptures.
Drifting is not only an unconscious effort, but we never drift upstream or against the tide. Think about that. Faithfulness to the Lord is like rowing upstream. You’ve got to continue to row, and as long as you row upstream, you do not have to worry about drifting or falling behind. It is when we stop growing, rowing in our Christian walk, the tendency is to go backwards, or downwards.
Another characteristic of drifting is this as we noted here in this article, is that the speed downstream increases. The dangers increase with the speed of the drift. When we cannot hear the noise of the waterfall, it’s already too late. When we lose sight of the land, it’s more difficult to discern that we are drifting.
As Christians, as we do drift farther and further from the Lord, we care less and less about what we do.
Another thing that we can say about drifting is that drifting can end in shipwreck. A boat adrift will crash on the rocks or go over the falls. For those who drift spiritually through their own neglect, there will be no escape as such.
The danger of drifting is real or there would be no need to warn against it. With that in mind, I want to take you know to 1 Kings chapter 9, verses 1 through 8.
“As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayers and your plea, which you have made before Me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting My name there forever. My eyes and My heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before Me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping My statutes and My rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ But if you turn aside from following Me, you or your children, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’””
Two simple points tonight – the appearance of the Lord in verses 1 through 3 and the admonition given by the Lord in verses 4 through 9.
Our Lord appears a second time here in 1 Kings chapter 9. You remember the first time He appeared? It was back in chapter 3. It was giving wisdom to Solomon. We all know how Solomon began. He removed a rebellion, the first four years he unified the land. We find him as a man seeking God, praying with intensity, and teaching the people to seek their God. Things appeared to be going well for Solomon in the opening verses here of verses 1 and 2.
In fact, verse 1 opens on a good note. It says here, “The house of the Lord with the king’s house,” linking them both together. Solomon’s own house is linked with the house of the Lord, reminding us tonight, right? That church activity is not separated from home activity. Reminding us again tonight that spiritual prosperity is gained from the vital link between home and the local church and is effective in that way when practiced.
Now let’s stop here and consider Solomon. Remember Solomon’s reign is 40 years as king over Israel. Years 1 through 4 he spends securing the kingdom. Verse 4 he starts building the temple, which took him seven years to complete. So that is his eleventh year. Year 11 he begins building his palace and it takes him 13 years to complete. So that brings us up to year 24 of his 40-year reign with 16 years remaining.
Over the years of his reign, his relationship with the Lord slowly was going flat. It was drifting. So what we’re looking at in chapter 9 is the second half of the reign of Solomon.
Now what indications do we have of Solomon’s drifting? Well, there are several things that I think that we can consider tonight that leads us to chapter 9 and the second appearance of the Lord and fully reveals itself in 2 Kings, or 1 Kings, chapter 11. I would suggest to you tonight that one of the indications of Solomon’s drifting is that he failed to take God seriously.
What do you mean? Well, in 1 Kings chapter 3, verses 1 through 3, we’re told about Solomon marrying the daughter of Pharaoh. In fact, in 2 Chronicles chapter 8, verse 11, we see evidence of Solomon’s sagging attitude. He marries Pharaoh’s daughter and we read Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not live in the house of David king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy.”
Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter was a marriage of expedience, not obedience to God’s precepts. It was a marriage based on political diplomacy, not love. It was a marriage compromised of God’s Word.
In Deuteronomy chapter 7, verses 1 through 11, specific instructions are given regarding intermarriage with foreigners that worship other gods. I do believe we see in 1 Kings chapter 3 his grip on God’s Word showing some sign of loosening. Solomon tolerated what God condemned. Solomon embraced what God hated. In doing so, he failed to take God at His Word. Throughout the entire Old Testament, God warns against this practice of marrying foreign women, foreign women who live under foreign gods. But Solomon doesn’t take it seriously.
In 2 Chronicles chapter 8, verse 11, it appears that Solomon brought his Egyptian wife to the city of David, probably kept her under wraps, hidden as not to attract too much attention, but to his credit, we do see some conviction in his life. His relationship with God was not totally flat here in 1 Kings 3. It says Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the house he had built for her. Solomon knew that a woman from an unholy background had no business in being in a holy place, but to his discredit he found a place for her somewhere in his kingdom and in his heart and built a house for her. Having made a place for her in his kingdom, and in his heart, it is said that he had opened a Pandora’s box of idolatry, of infidelity, and many sins to follow.
So I would say the first indication of his drifting is this what appears to be very innocent thing in marrying Pharaoh’s daughter, but if you look at it in light of Scripture, you find it’s a serious breach of God’s Word.
I would suggest to you another thing about Solomon, and that is his failing to be accountable. Solomon was alone in the driver’s seat of the kingdom. He was accountable to no one. He answered to no one. As Lord Acton has been given credit for this quote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
When you go to 1 Kings 11, you see that God is angry with Solomon because Solomon’s power had corrupted the pure heart of his throne. So he continues in this drift.
The New Testament teaches us the sense of accountability we ought to have towards one another. Such was not the case for Solomon.
I would say to you another indication that he is in the course of drifting away from the Lord is the grip of materialism. Solomon had a growing desire for luxury to the point of extravagance. Now mind you, he is the wealthiest man on the face of the earth, having achieved so much because of what David did for him in leaving him his legacy of the kingdom.
If you look in 1 Kings chapter 9 and look if you will at verse 11, notice the phrase, “And Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired.”
Now look down at verse 19 – “And all the store cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.”
Whatever Solomon desired to build. Whatever pleased Solomon, he did. Whatever he desired, whatever he longed for, coveted, was his.
Beloved, this is a dangerous war zone here. You see Satan loves to destroy the people of God by getting their focus off of the Lord and onto other things. Very subtle. The temptation is to spend our lives, our energy, on things that distract us away from the Lord.
You look at Solomon’s accomplishments, and they are many. Look at his wealth; it cannot be equalled. Look at the popularity that he has, the most popular person of his day.
If Satan can throw one thing at you and me, it’s going to be something to get us distracted. If you’re materialistically-minded, he will get you so consumed with the bottom line having enough to be able to do what you want to do, or like Solomon as much as you desire.
What does drifting look to us in our lives? When things take the place of our love for God, when something comes in the place of an idol instead of worshiping our Savior and Lord, a diminishing desire for communion with Him takes place.
We’ve read of the blessed man in Psalm chapter 1. The blessed man of Psalm 1 is one anchored in the Word and one who delights in Him. He finds his delight in the law of the Lord, not in the things of this world.
Our drifting away from the Lord soon finds itself not only with seeking and enjoying the things of the world, but also our communication and relationship with the things involved with the world and away from the Lord. Preferring the things of this world and the companionship of this world indicates a drifting towards destruction.
With that in mind, the Lord appears to Solomon. Now this encounter with God occurs approximately 12 years after chapter 8. God is not just now answering Solomon’s prayer of chapter 8. Since the temple was built 12 years ago, God had done what Solomon requested. The first 24 years of Solomon’s reign had been a piece of cake. No wars, no famines, no recessions, and no worries. That is why Scripture is silent for those last 12 years – things were truly manifold goodness of God in display. Once God moved into the temple, everything in Israel was great. Now God shows up 12 years later to remind Solomon that it was His presence that has made Israel great and not Solomon.
It was His intention for things to continue to be blessed in Israel in the same way, but the Lord seeing the heart as He can sees a drifting away and He now appears the second time, not to give wisdom but to give a warning. Notice the warning here in verses 4 through 9. He calls Solomon to do two things. In verse 4, “And as for you, if you will walk before Me, as your father David walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping My statutes and My rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”
He says to Solomon, He says, “Walk before Me, integrity of heart and uprightness, as your father David did.”
How can God say that about David? After David had an affair with the wife of his friend, after he had killed the husband and then marries the wife, and covers it up for a whole year? How could he be considered a man of integrity? A man of integrity of heart and uprightness?
Well, we all know about the life of David, don’t we? We all will agree that he did fail, that he did falter, that he did fumble, and that he fell. The problem with most people it is said is not finding the truth, but in facing it. Why was David a man after God’s own heart? Why was it that David came back again and again and God spoke to him so clearly? I would suggest to you three reasons.
Number one. Repentance and brokenness of heart.
Remember Psalm 51. David says against thee only have I sinned and committed this evil in thy sight, that thou might be faithful when You judgeth me.
We see a broken-hearted man, a man who acknowledged his sin, a man who accepted God’s discipline for his sin. He didn’t become resentful, he didn’t become bitter. Following the death of the boy, he saw God’s hand of discipline because of his sin. So he repented, he accepted the discipline for his sin, and with forgiveness he goes forward and he faces the future.
So God tells Solomon if you will follow after the heart of your father, the integrity of his heart, I will so bless.
So the first thing He says to Solomon, walk before Me.
Then the second thing He says, do. Walk in the integrity of heart like your father did, do all of those things, and observe My laws and decrees and it will be okay. He’s really calling Solomon back to get a handle on the fact that he is drifting away.
Remember, drifting is something that we’re not always aware of. He says you do these two things, then in verse 5 He says I will guarantee that your seed will continue to reign on the throne. But then Solomon is told what happens if he refuses to follow the Lord’s words.
Look at verse 6 through 9 – But if you turn aside from following Me, you or your children, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”
He says if you refuse to take heed to what I tell you, He says then there will be judgment. He says if you turn aside, in verse 6, if you turn away.
Now when you turn away, that indicates something has captured your heart. You have new love so you turn away. When you turn away, you have love that has grown cold, a love that has been strained by a love that is focusing on other directions and other things, if you turn away. If you do not observe and go off to serve. The second word here is to fall out of it. When you turn away from love, what do you do? What do you turn away from? You turn away from the responsibility of that first relationship. You do not observe the commands and the decrees I have given you. You have turned away from the relationship. You’ve destroyed the responsibility of the relationship.
What is the third thing? Go off to serve. You replace it with something else. When you put God out of your life, you turn away from the responsibilities of that relationship and replace it with idolatry. This was the direction that Solomon was headed. Solomon needed to hear that. Beloved, we need to be reminded of that tonight.
The way to prevent spiritual drifting is to realize we must constantly guard our hearts. We are to be on guard against all of those forces that seek to distract us then product neglect in us towards the things of the Lord.
There’s a great old gospel hymn, unfortunately it’s not in the Trinity hymnal, but it goes, “My soul, be on thy guard, ten thousand foes arise, the host of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the skies. Oh, watch and fight and pray, the battle ne’er give o’er. Renew it boldly every day and help divine employ.”
We’re to be on guard against all things. Our Savior Jesus Christ said watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
So we need to be on guard tonight. Perhaps sitting here tonight thinking over your own walk with the Lord, you may see glimpses of drifting. What if you’re here and you’re drifting tonight? Well, there’s one verse that is well worthwhile to stop, because the Lord included it in the Chronicles’ account of this passage. Not in the Kings’ passage. It’s in 2 Chronicles chapter 7, in verse 14 – “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
The Lord is telling His people what they need to do if they’re in a state of drifting, and He tells us what He will do. He says we’re to humble ourselves, we’re to have that same brokenness of heart that so characterized David when he sinned. We’re to pray. We’re to turn back to Him and seek His face and to turn from our wicked ways.
He says if we do that, He will hear from heaven. He will forgive our sin. He will heal our land.
God can restore us when we drift away.
Robert Robinson was converted under the mighty preaching of George Whitefield, but later he drifted far from the Lord. He had been greatly used as a pastor, but neglected spiritual things which caused him to go astray. In an attempt to find peace, he began to travel and during one of his journeys he met a young woman who was evidently very spiritually minded. “What do you think of this hymn I’ve been reading?” she asked Robinson, handing him the book. It was his own hymn. He tried to avoid her question, but it was hopeless, for the Lord was speaking to him. Finally he broke down and wept and confessed who he was and how he had been living away from the Lord. But these streams of mercy are still flowing, the woman assured him, and through her encouragement, Robert Robinson was restored to the fellowship with his Lord.
The words that he wrote came back to convict him, “Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace, streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above, praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love. Here I find my greatest treasure, hither by Thy help I come, and I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God, He to rescue me from danger, bought me with His precious blood. O to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be, let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love, here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
Would you join me in prayer? Forgive us from drifting away from You, for allowing other things to become more important in our lives. Help us to live aware, to choose wisely, to stay close to You, and anchor in Your truth. Apart from You we have no hope, thank You for Your great love and mercy. Thank You that You wait for us, that You call us to Yourself, and You strengthen us in our weakness. Thank You that You alone are our refuge and safety and You fill us with hope. We come to You this evening choosing to walk in Your presence and light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.