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In my last posting (‘Living with Betrayal‘) I talked about the pain I felt when people I had trusted and admired betrayed the standards they professed. Of course, I am far from being unique in that respect. The fact is that, if we have seen someone in a position of influence offend in such a manner, most of us are not just reluctant ever to trust that person again: we even struggle with our memories of their past good deeds. Suddenly, even their best actions look tainted to us, we question whether their motives were ever truly sincere and inwardly cringe if others begin to praise them.
God is So Different
God really is so different in His dealings with us. Before the ‘God encounter’ that led me to write ‘Transformed by Love,’ I struggled with my attitude to the writings of Solomon, because he is a classic example of one who started sweet and ended sour. As a young man, he comes across as a model of humility, zeal for God, love for people and wisdom: but in later years as a womanizer, sponsor of false Gods, lover of pleasure and cynic.
Having written about the wonderful transformation his love brought about in the life of the young maiden who forms the focus of the Song of Solomon, it pains me to ponder how that relationship might have ended in his later years. Did she feel betrayed? I fear she did. And did he betray the very vision he presented in the Song? Yes.
Doomed to fail: but not discarded
Solomon’s attempt to fulfil his vision of the Shepherd King, the King of Love, was doomed from the start. Only Jesus could do that. Solomon was a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. But whereas my instinct is to turn away from him and say, ‘Why should this be in the Bible?’ God doesn’t do that.
The reality is that we are all flawed. If we strike out Solomon’s writings, should we not also strike out the psalms of David, who committed both adultery and murder in his affair with Bathsheba? If God had not been willing to bless and use people in spite of their failures then Abraham’s half-truths would have cost him his wife at least twice, Moses’ murder of the Egyptian would have made him a fugitive for the rest of his life, Peter’s denial would have been the end of his ministry, Paul’s would never have started and Mark never written his gospel, to mention but a few. If we took account of them all, the result would have been no Bible, no Jesus and no hope.
But God doesn’t write people off when they fail. Their earlier good deeds still stand as a testimony to us even after they have fallen. And where God finds a humble heart, like that of David or Peter, even though we might be inclined to write that person off and consign them to the back pages of history, He is willing to pick them up and use them mightily again.