When we think about King Solomon, we think wisdom and greatness. After all, “King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom” (1 Kings 10:23). At one point God said of him with great pleasure, “There has never been anyone like you” (1 Kings 3:12). So, why later in Solomon’s story do we hear, “Solomon had not obeyed him” (1 Kings 11:10)?
Sadly, by the end of Solomon’s life, corruption had set in. The man who had once built a fabulous Temple for the Lord was now building temples for false gods. He caved to the obsessions of wealth and power. He had numerous wives and concubines. Sin overtook his life and God was set aside.
When preaching on King Solomon’s slide, Pope Francis noted that Solomon’s “weakness of the heart” was “a slow journey that slides along step by step.” The Pope goes on to warn that this gradual distancing from God can happen to us. “You don’t even realize it, but slowly you slip” (Homily, February 13, 2020).
So, how can we avoid the Solomon slide? Pope Francis tells us to stay alert “for the grace to understand when our heart begins to weaken and to slide.” In other words, we need to keep looking to God. This will help us to become aware of when we start sliding. Then, with a prayer of repentance and surrender, we can find the strength to stop the slide.
“My heart has been wounded by many sins. My mind and tongue carelessly left unguarded. Lord of kindness and power, in my lowliness and need I am turning to you, the fountain of mercy; I am hurrying to you to be healed; I am taking refuge under your protection. I am longing to meet you, not as my Judge but as my Savior. Lord, I am not ashamed to show you my wounds. Only you know how many and how serious my sins are, and though they could make me fear for my salvation, I am putting my hope in your mercies, which are beyond count. Look on me with mercy, then, Lord Jesus Christ, eternal King, God and man, crucified for our sake. I am putting my trust in you, the fountain that will never stop flowing with merciful love: hear me and forgive my sins and weaknesses.” – Prayer of St. Ambrose