Sifan and Solomon

November 21, 2023 | Jaci Miller

Sifan Hassan is a name you likely won’t know. A Dutch runner in the Tokyo Olympics, she tripped over another runner in a qualifying heat for the 1,500-meter race. The fall moved her to second-to-last place as the other runners quickly outdistanced her. But Hassan jumped to her feet and began the hard work of making up ground. For many, it would seem too late. An Olympic dream lost. But Hassan sprinted, covered the lost territory, and beat out the 11 runners between her and the finish line.

I love an underdog. A great come-from-behind story where our hero wins against all odds. Sheer determination pulls him or her through. In books, in movies, the hero emerges triumphant.

In racing, and in life, it matters less how we start and most how we finish.

King Solomon of the Old Testament springs to mind. He started well enough, with a godly heritage behind him. His father, David, served God and worshiped Him all his days. A man after God’s own heart. Then when Solomon became king, he asked God for wisdom and pleased God with this request. He built the Temple in Israel. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. He sacrificed and worshiped like a good Israelite. He even prayed a beautiful prayer of dedication over the Temple in 1 Kings 8. He was running his race smoothly.

Then somewhere Solomon lost his way. He began to break the law God had given. 

Deuteronomy 17:16-17 says, “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.”

Sadly, 1 Kings 11 tells us Solomon married 700 women, beginning with Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3), and had 300 concubines. Foreign women who worshiped other gods. 1 Kings 10:14-29 describes the wealth Solomon amassed — more than any other king on earth. But being wealthy and loved weren’t enough for Solomon. He needed military might, as evidenced by the 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses he acquired.

One by one he broke God’s laws. Going back to Egypt to marry a foreigner. Marrying many foreign wives, amassing too much gold, buying great numbers of horses. Then, as if this wasn’t enough, he followed other gods like Ashtoreth and built high places for Chemosh and Molech. Despicable religions, some that required child sacrifice. He built these places of worship for his many wives, seeking to please them — not God.

Solomon didn’t just stumble. He outright face planted. His heart turned away from God.

Certainly, we can allow Solomon his errors, but unlike his father, David, Solomon didn’t return to God, fall to his knees, and repent. He drifted further away. As near as I can tell from Scripture, his last days were not spent loving the Lord.

Solomon’s is a cautionary tale for us. A slow drift from God can become permanent — a lost race of the worst kind.

After she fell, Sifan Hassan rose. She won her event despite the challenge, remaining steadfast and determined to finish well.

Believers need that kind of determination. The conviction to rise and continue racing after a fall. We need to finish the race of faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

Regardless of our beginnings, or even our middles, God offers us the chance to finish the race with Him. To emerge triumphant.