Note: The following is an excerpt from chapter 10 of my upcoming book, The Solomon Seduction. It will be released April 8 by HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson.
God doesn’t generally respond immediately to the sins of his people. Solomon, for example, accumulated a thousand wives and concubines before God started raising up adversaries to make his life miserable. Most scholars believe at least a year went by after David committed adultery with Bathsheba before God stepped up and took action against him. Even in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, whom God struck dead for lying, there could have been prior offenses we’re not told about.
The reason God generally doesn’t start drawing bull’s-eyes and slinging lightning bolts at us as soon as we mess up is because he expects us to sin. Psalm 103:13-14 says, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
I was recently reminded of how meaningful these words are.
Some parents who were frustrated with their Junior High-age son came to see me. They went on and on about how they couldn’t get him to “shape up.” His room was too messy to suit them, his appearance too scruffy, and his attitude too lackadaisical. His mother, in full exasperation mode, said, “He just drives me crazy with his ear buds and his shuffling around.” But I noticed that there was nothing really evil in what the kid was doing. So when they asked me what I thought, I said, “Honestly, I think he’s perfectly normal. Don’t forget, he’s thirteen years old. I suspect there are a lot of parents of thirteen year olds that would be thrilled if their kids were like yours.”
God never forgets that we’re thirteen years old, so to speak. He never forgets that we’re made of dust. So when we sin, he doesn’t immediately marshal his troops and send them marching off to make war against us. He notices, for sure. He’s displeased, absolutely. He feels the pain of it, no doubt. But he understands how weak we are, that we are going to sin.
It’s the direction of our lives that concerns him most of all. Haven’t you noticed how often the Bible talks about the life of faith being a path or a highway or a road that we follow? For example, Proverbs 15:24 says, “The path of life leads upward for the wise.” And Matthew 7:14: “The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” God’s discipline is most likely to be visited upon us, not when we commit an isolated sin, but when we depart from the path of righteousness and go off in a completely different direction. That’s what Solomon did.