From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 8 – Further advice on how we can become more faithful
We have already seen, in earlier chapters, some examples of characters in the Bible who began well but then let God down and became unfaithful later in life. These accounts are in the Bible to bring home to us the danger that we ourselves are in. There is the account of King Uzziah, which we looked at earlier. He began his reign aged 16 and was faithful for many years but then, due to becoming proud as a result of his fame and success, he became arrogant and disobedient. He usurped the position of the priests and presumed to enter the Temple to offer a sacrifice himself, which he was not authorised to do.
Then there is the sad example of King Saul who began well and with great promise, but who ended up a petulant, self-pitiful, paranoid man. He even consulted a witch rather than seek God’s guidance. Saul did all that despite the fact that when he began, he was the best man God could find in all of Israel . He had also operated, for a time, in prophetic gifts. That ought to sober us. If even he could degenerate so badly, then so can we, if we allow ourselves to drift or to compromise with sin.
In addition there is King Solomon. He began very well indeed and had more wisdom than any other man. But even he went astray due to marrying so many wives, many of whom were not Israelites and were worshippers of idols. Then there is Gehazi, the assistant to the prophet Elisha. He served Elisha for years but then fell into sin and unfaithfulness when he was tempted by the desire for money. He lied to Naaman the Syrian and extracted a financial gift from him, pretending that Elisha had asked for it. As a result of that deception God struck Gehazi down with leprosy.
There is also King Rehoboam, the son of King Solomon. Consider the advantages he had in having a father like that. Yet, we are told that when Rehoboam became established as King he abandoned the law of the LORD and ended up doing evil:
When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.2 Chronicles 12:1 (ESV)
And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD2 Chronicles 12:14 (ESV)