Solomon planted seeds of willfulness and independence that reaped a harvest of age-old rebellion in his heart. Let's see what God did in response to Solomon's defiance. Read 1 Kings 11:9-11. His very first reaction was a strong statement of divine anger. Right off the bat: "Now the LORD was angry with Solomon" (v. 9).
What a refreshing balance, what a clean breath of air! Of course God was angry! Week after week we hear of the love of God. We are told of the compassion and the mercy and the grace of God, and we surely should be. But to the exclusion of His anger? I think not. How easy to forget that He is holy. How seldom we hear teaching of the wrath and the anger of God, of the jealousy God has for the purity of His people.
Mark it down in bold print: Defiance still makes God angry.
Not too long ago, I did a scriptural study on divine anger. To tell you the truth, I was amazed at how often the word anger appears in the Bible in relation to God. Usually, the word kindled accompanies the term. His anger is often kindled. Our English word has in mind the idea of arousing or stirring something up or starting embers to glow. It's usually related to the kindling of a fire. The Hebrew word translated kindled comes from the root verb that suggests "to be heated to the point of vexation." It vexes God when He sees His children walk against His plan. I repeat, it still makes Him angry.
I have several old Puritan books. Every time I read them, I find myself reminded of the holiness of God. God stands ready to deal with His people, modern-day teaching notwithstanding. We need the reminder that He is still jealous for our hearts, and when we walk against His way, He deals with us. The Bible is replete with illustrations such as these.
Is He patient? Yes. Loving? Of course. Merciful? Always. But holy? And jealous? Absolutely. Never, ever forget that when we serve the idols of our own lives, the Lord becomes angry because our hearts are turned off to Him. Even His longsuffering has a limit; His patience reaches an end.
It's like what my folks used to say when I finally went too far. In a tone clearly reserved for finality, they would say: "Charles, THAT'S IT!" Oh—those awful two words! "That's it!" How I would long for a place to hide . . . or the coming of the Lord for His own! At times God says to His children, "That's it! No more!" And He moves right in. Defiance, I find more often than any other attitude, is the thing that kindles God's anger. Let us never forget that our defiance gives Him every right to be angry. We've broken His holy plan for us. He wants us to walk in the light, in fellowship with Him, just as He is in the light.
Did you notice how God said He would remove Solomon's kingdom? According to verse 11, He would "tear" the kingdom from him. T-E-A-R. That, my friends, is a serious stress fracture. When we exhibit defiance, forcing the Lord to step in and deal with us, it's a tearing experience. It's a ripping away of things that are very important to us. Our peace and calm are disturbed. Our diplomatic relationships with people are stirred up. We don't get along with our parents. We don't get along with our kids. We don't get along with our peers as we once did. All of that is a tearing away of kingdoms that were built in defiance.
Let's not overlook the Lord's mercy here. He says in verses 12 and 13:
"Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."
Those are hard, strong words. Frankly, defiant people only hear hard, strong words. They are not listening to the whisperings or the quiet movements of God.
So, we see that God responds to defiance with righteous anger. He also takes action. We'll talk about that in Part Four.
This devotional is part three in a five-part series.
Excerpted from Avoiding Stress Fractures, Copyright © 1990, 1995 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.