Finishing Well - Man as Provider

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. - 1 Kings 11:4-9 ESV
Tanzanian marathon runner John Stephen Akhwari did not win his race in the Mexico City Olympics, yet he is still a hero in the hearts of millions. Not long after starting the marathon, Akhwari, who was not acclimated to the high elevation, stumbled, fell, and was badly injured. Predictably, other runners passed him one after another, and his chance of winning a medal was gone. However, he didn’t quit and insisted on finishing the race. When Akhwari limped into the stadium on bloody and bandaged legs an hour after the winner of the race had already left, there were only a few spectators remaining in the stands. They were shocked to see Akhwari enter the arena, wincing with pain at every step, and they felt grateful to witness such a touching moment when he crossed the finish line. When asked why he didn’t retire from the race, Akhwari’s answer was calm and simple: “My country didn’t send me to start the race. They sent me to finish it!”
Every man ought to aspire to finish what he starts. Allow me to challenge you to take it a step further and aspire to finish well. When there are far more miles behind you than there are ahead, that becomes all the more important. That’s where I am in my journey with the Lord. I am striving to finish well. As Providers, finishing well is an example we men need to set for those who are following us in the “race of life.”
From the reading, we see how Solomon stumbled and fell near the end of his race. He did not finish well. Remember, this is the guy who humbly asked for wisdom, and God graciously gave it to him along with riches and power. However, later in life, his loyalty to God was divided. His pagan wives lured him away from worshipping only the one true and living God. They captured his heart, and then his heart went after their false gods.
Recall that God had clearly warned about this in Deuteronomy 17:17: “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away.” That’s precisely what Solomon did, in direct disobedience to God. He knew God’s rule and rejected it in favor of pursuing pleasure and more power. He married hundreds of pagan wives, and predictably his heart turned away. Solomon broke God’s rule, then God’s rule broke him. When you read Ecclesiastes, you read the diary of an old man headed to the grave with a bitter and cynical perspective. Again, he didn’t finish well.
What a sad summation of Solomon’s life here in v. 9: “So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.” Solomon’s example shows that a great start matters little when it is followed by a poor finish. We also learn that we are imagining things if we think that our current allegiances and behavior don’t affect our finish. The wisest man in the world willingly allowed himself to be diverted and defeated. His negative example should serve as both a warning and encouragement to remain loyal and obedient to the Lord. Yet it should also spur us to provide a positive example by finishing well.
  • As you assess your allegiances and behavior at this point in your race, are they helping you toward the finish line of a life that is pleasing to the Lord or diverting you away from Him? How can you course correct and get back on track?
  • As you run your race, how are you providing a positive example to follow? How are you focused on finishing well?
  • Ask the Lord to give you the focus, strength, and endurance to finish well.