Keep yourselves from idols

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist

It’s a rather strange story in 1 Samuel 19. The writer told of David who had become a cause celebre after dispatching the fierce giant Goliath. The king gave David the gift of his daughter in marriage; thus, Michal became the first of at least eight wives David collected!

But there came a day when King Saul’s jealous rage exploded. He ordered David’s arrest. In order to buy time Michal said her husband was sick and couldn’t be disturbed. But the king sent the soldiers back despite this lie. They discovered David’s bed was fluffed to appear he was in it, though he’d escaped some time before. The intriguing thing is that rather than using pillows and stuffed animals like we did as children, Michal used a household idol.

What was an idol doing in the king’s daughter’s home? What was an idol doing in the future king of Israel’s home?

The writer doesn’t explain this, but I think it illustrates the pervasion of idols in the biblical world. The Apostle Paul found that in Athens, the intellectual capital of the Roman Empire, the Greeks had an idol to “the unknown god,” in the event they overlooked and offended one in their pantheon.

The Apostle John told Christians to “keep yourselves from idols.” Surely this is not the problem today that it was in the ancient world. We don’t have images of stone, wood or metal in our homes or businesses before which we humble ourselves, worship and pray. But Bible teacher Bill Gothard used to insist that people, possessions and position are our modern idols.

People can be idols if we choose them over God. The Old Testament law forbade an Israelite marrying a Canaanite, but Solomon did and Ahab did, with disastrous consequences. The New Testament also exhorts Christians not to be “unequally yoked” (in marriage) with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

Possessions can be idols if we fall into the trap of seeking more and more things to make life complete. Scripture teaches that life isn’t made complete by what we have. We must learn contentment and learn to share what we have with others in need.

Position can be an idol if we constantly seek the praise of others above the praise of God. But Jesus counseled that we’re to seek God’s kingdom first of all; then we find everything else falling into proper place.

The old trilogy is yet valid. We seek God first, make our family second, and others, including our work, third. This is God’s way to a balanced life. This is God’s way to an idol-free life.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.