Deterioration

Solomon's life reminds me of the swing of a pendulum. Smooth and graceful . . . silent and elegant . . . yet periodically given to extremes.

Wisdom, loyalty, diplomacy, and efficiency marked his attitude and acts during the early years of his reign. Best of all, "Solomon loved the LORD" (1 Kings 3:3). His achievements could not be listed on ten pages this size. When visited by surrounding magistrates, he was viewed with awe. And rich? Multiplied millions annually. And creative? He was an architect, songwriter, artist, author, and inventor of unparalleled ability.

Things slowly began to change, however, as the pendulum began its tragic swing. Farther and farther . . . and farther.

Solomon seized the reins of wrong and drove his glistening chariot of gold onto the misty flats of licentiousness, pride, lust, profanity, and paganism. Silently, gradually, like eroding soil near the banks of a deep, angry river, he began to believe the lie that has captured many a top executive . . . or super salesperson . . . or successful physician . . . or athletic prima donna . . . or film star . . . or TV celebrity.

Materialism, polygamy, brutality, and idolatry now crippled his steps. Revolts fractured his nation, and irrational decisions characterized his rule. All to him became "vanity and striving after wind" (Eccles. 2:26). Nothing satisfied him any longer. The normal, God-given drives lost their appeal as deterioration took its final toll. And when death finally came, Solomon left in his wake a confused following and a broken, rebellious family.

Deterioration is never loud. Never obvious. Seldom even noticed. Like tiny cracks in a stucco wall, it hardly seems worth our time and attention. Never sudden.

Character threads don't "suddenly" snap. As the British expositor of yesteryear, F. B. Meyer, once put it, "No man suddenly becomes base."

Slowly, silently, subtly, things are tolerated that once were rejected. At the outset everything appears harmless, maybe even a bit exciting. But with it comes an "insignificant" wedge, a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay.

Be on guard! Those of us who stand must take heed lest we fall.

The pitfalls are still present. Still real. As unobtrusive as the ticking of a clock. As attractive as the swinging of a pendulum . . . until . . .

"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Solomon, Prov. 14:12).

Deterioration is never loud nor obvious. As F. B. Meyer once put it, "No man suddenly becomes base."

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Taken from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com

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