No one can deny that Solomon struck gold when he asked God for wisdom. I Kings 3:5-15 tells the story of Solomon starting out extremely well; God not only gave him wisdom, but riches and honor. What a great start to his reign! God even said if he kept the ways of his father, King David, he would get a long life, too!
Well... then chapter eleven happened. In I Kings 11:1-6 King Solomon starts doing the big no-no's: multiple wives! Even worse, they influenced him for the worst (I Kings 11:7-8). Notice verses 9-11:
9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
10And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.
11Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
I'm no genius, but it looks to me like God was no longer impressed by Solomon's glorious beginning. But he started out so well! He asked God for wisdom when he could've asked for anything! He was David's son and was surely destined for success. He had received divine favor from God and a promising future in His service.
We are quick to scold King Solomon, yet when was the last time we started on a project but failed miserably? Being a junior in college, I'm beginning to see why so many drop out, get dismissed, give up, don't come back, or play around with trouble one too many times. College is not for the faint at heart! Looking through my first yearbook, I can point to almost half of my freshman class and say, "They started out strong, but didn't even finish."
If you're up for a challenge, live a life of obedience to God. I'm not even going to lie -- it is hard. However, will that excuse really work when we stand before Christ after we die? What do you think Solomon had to say when he met his Maker? "Lord, I'm really sorry, but it was too hard. I couldn't resist all those pretty Egyptians and Ammonites." Do you think God told him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"?
Making sure we finish well starts with decisions we make today. Solomon could've kept going strong by saying "no" to the first foreign woman who batted her eyes at him. Every wrong decision we make takes us one step further away from God's will, until we're so far off the path we don't even know how we got there. React to each unwise choice like Solomon should have reacted to each woman of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Hittites.
The old Solomon was never the same spiritually vibrant man he once was, and in his own words, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Every choice you make today affects your future. In college, you cannot expect to get an A in a class if you never study for the tests. In a car race, you cannot expect to finish if you never make pit stops. If life, you cannot expect a "Well done" if you cut corners, mess with trouble, or don't finish what you start.
The key to finishing well is doing well today. If we resolve to do that every day, we will live our whole lives in obedience to God's will. "Waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of" (Benjamin Franklin). Yes, daily dying to self can be hard, but it's so much easier than wasting many precious years and trying to pick up the pieces. Find your strength in the Lord, and you will never lack the strength to finish well!