Now Solomon loved to walk in the laws of his father David, with the exception that he also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines. I Kings 3.1 (Common English Bible)
Visiting the city of David is an all-encompassing adventure. Jerusalem is rich in history of the Hebrew nation, as well as others who have come to claim this city as holy.
As we wandered through streets and around buildings, we walked by many landmarks without much more than a passing comment such as “this is the place where….” To think that thousands of years of history still remain mostly intact in the monuments and the buildings is mind-boggling, especially when we come from a country where most of our buildings are less than 400 years old.
Entering the “holy city” of Jerusalem, one expects the streets to be kept as shrines to the history of God’s people, the Hebrew nation. However, even as we walked down the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering, we were reminded that other shrines have crept into the city, even ones from the southeastern United States. With a remark and a chuckle of amazement, we pass by a store solely devoted to the University of Alabama. Down the way, other shops have other signs that Americans have definitely made an impression on this city, and have left behind reminders of their own shrines and monuments.
One cannot come to this city without at least hearing about King David, the greatest king of Israel to reign. He was not great because he never made mistakes, but because he was a man after God’s own heart. He loved the Lord with all his heart and soul, and even though from time to time he made some unwise choices, even some terrible mistakes, he never forgot the first commandment from Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “ Israel, listen! Our God is the Lord! Only the Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.”
David lived this commandment and was a wise king that followed the counsel of the Lord. His son Solomon, however, tried to please those around him, and while he was wise, he was also not devoted completely to loving God with all of his heart. Solomon had a heart for his father’s laws, but not a heart devoted to his father’s Lord. He ruled for many years and the kingdom flourished because of his wisdom, but he burned incense on the altars of other gods, pagan idols brought into his house by the wives that he chose for political alliances. And while this may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, his practices drew him farther and farther away from loving God.
With football season quickly approaching, we will certainly have our loyalties to our favorite teams. But as we cheer at the games for our teams to win, let’s remember to keep things in perspective.
It’s okay to cheer for your favorite teams, but don’t let those alliances draw you away from God. God wants our whole hearts to be devoted to our Lord … no exceptions! “Listen! Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being and all your strength.”
Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.covingtonfirst.org.