In the 1970’s in Australia, a large international company had a TV advertisement for one of its cheese products in which the slogan was, “I am single minded about KRAFT singles”. The young mother packing her child’s lunch for school advised her audience that when it came to cheese in school lunches, that this particular product was the best!
Being ‘single minded’ is a Bible slogan too. It is a concept which describes absolute devotion and loyalty to only ONE direction. When the Bible uses ‘the heart’ it refers to that which drives and motivates our conduct. As we read Jeremiah, he speaks repeatedly of the “imagination of the (evil) heart” (see Jeremiah 3 v 17; 7 v 24; 9 v 14 etc.). Obviously, while the heart is physically the organ which operates our blood’s circulatory system, in Bible times, and even in our own, we speak of the heart being the centre of our deepest emotions. When the new husband tells his beautiful bride on their wedding day that he loves her with all his heart, she knows that he isn’t thinking about a muscle in his chest, filled with red fluid!
So why am I thinking about the heart? In our first reading today (1 Kings 11) we read with sadness of king Solomon’s falling away from his early commitment to the LORD. The cause of his sinfulness and failure, God says, is the multitude of marriages he had entered with women who did not worship the God of Israel. Consider these verses:
“The LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them (their Gentile neighbours), because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods’” (verse 2)
“His wives led Solomon astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (verses 3,4)
“So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD, he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done” (verse 6)
“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” (verse 9)
On four occasions, God’s testimony is that Solomon’s heart had been turned. He was no longer fully devoted to the LORD. He did not follow the LORD completely and he had been turned away to worship gods who were not God at all! Solomon’s heart had been divided. He was no longer single minded about serving the God of his father, David! In fact, David’s example as the standard for both Solomon and Israel is also described at least four times in this chapter (see two examples highlighted above).
The idea of being totally loyal and having just one focus—an undivided heart—or being single minded, is a constant Bible theme! Consider this selection of verses:
“I will praise you, LORD, with ALL my heart” (Psalm 9 v 1)
“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86 v 11)
“Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3 v 5)
“I will gather you (Israel) from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered…..(you) will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give you an undivided heart and put a new spirit in (you)…. (Ezekiel 11 vv 17—19).
As we commence another week, let us consider Solomon’s example. Sadly, it is an example of a heart that was disloyal to God—a heart that was corrupted and divided and for which God ultimately had to compete with Solomon’s affections for the gods of his many idolatrous wives. Perhaps Jesus had this in mind when he encourages you and me in these terms:
“Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow! They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith! So do not worry….your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well!” (Matthew 6 vv 28—33).
Postscript: this picture describes ‘an undivided heart’ in nature—a creature that has only ONE thing on its mind! Can you see it?
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