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His heart was turned from the Lord (1)

C Jones, Cardiff

We are given an insight in the Scriptures into the ways in which people reacted and behaved in the circumstances God caused them to pass through. A prayerful study of the lives of people in the Old and New Testaments will help us to benefit from their experiences and live our lives more in accordance with the will of God and to His glory. We will be enabled to see more clearly the things to avoid and the things to go in for. We will be helped to "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it" (Ps 34.14).

The Christian life is a prolonged battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Some sins are particularly attractive to those who are young (Ps 25.7; 2 Tim 2.22). Other sins are more attractive to the middle-aged; for example, covetousness, and neglect of the service of the Lord as ambition causes more and more time and energy to be devoted to achieving success in secular employment (Ps 119.36; Lk 12.15). Neither Godliness nor wisdom inevitably accompany increasing age, nor are they limited to older people, and there are sins which those who are older may succumb to, resulting from the decline of physical and mental powers leading to feelings of despair, despondency, and discontent. Prayer and study and meditation on the Scriptures, which would have led to continued spiritual growth (1 Pet 2.2), might be neglected. The Scriptures tell us of "Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple" (Acts 21.16), who was still serving the Lord. The Psalmist prayed, "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come" (Ps 71.18), and towards the end of his life Moses still served God by using his experience and knowledge to help, guide and encourage Joshua as he took over the leadership of the Israelites (Deut 3.28). If older believers stay close to God they might well be led by the Spirit into new avenues of service which differ from those undertaken when they were younger. They can indeed "bring forth fruit in old age" (Ps 92.14). The fact that believers are alive and not yet with the Lord is evidence that there is still work which the Lord wants them to do and still the possibility of further spiritual development. Those of us who are believers should pray for, and not simply criticize, those in other age groups when we see them falling into sins which are particularly attractive at their time of life.

He loved the Lord

Solomon started well. We read that "Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father" (1 Kings 3.3). Solomon died, after a reign of 40 years, when he was 58 years old in about 975 BC. He reigned during a period which saw tremendous changes in the prosperity of the nation of Israel.

Before he died, King David had instructed his son Solomon to walk in the ways of God and keep His commandments (1 Kings 2.3,4), and in his early days Solomon loved the Lord, worshipped Him, and sought to reign righteously. Nevertheless, Solomon made mistakes early on in his reign. God had said to the Israelites, regarding the heathen nations in Canaan, "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them" (Deut 7.3). If this commandment had been obeyed a significant cause of idolatry would have been avoided. Nevertheless, Solomon, with the aim of establishing a political alliance, married Pharaoh’s daughter. Later on he might have acknowledged the folly of this marriage because he built a house for her and said, "My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come" (2 Chr 8.11). Contrary to the revealed will of God (Deut 17.17), Solomon loved and married many foreign wives in the course of his reign, and they led him away from the Lord and into idolatry and sin (1 Kings 11.1-11).

Nothing changes in this respect, and the injunction, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor 6.14), applies, among other things, to marriage between believers and unbelievers. Many a believer has made spiritual shipwreck of his or her life as a result of marrying an unbeliever. It is not enough, however, simply to avoid marrying an unbeliever. It is essential for a believer to pray for unequivocal guidance from God to ensure that a contemplated marriage to one who is a believer is in accordance with His will.

To be continued.

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