Once we have learned about the prize, we have to work diligently to keep our eyes focused on it because we could lose sight of it. For example, when Solomon became king of ancient Israel, he humbly prayed to God for understanding and discernment so that he could judge His people correctly. (Read 1 Kings 3:6-12.) As a result, the Bible states, “God continued giving Solomon wisdom and understanding in very great measure.” Indeed, “Solomon’s wisdom was vaster than the wisdom of all the Orientals and than all the wisdom of Egypt.”—1 Ki. 4:29-32.
However, earlier Jehovah had warned that anyone who became king “should not increase horses for himself” and that he “should also not multiply wives for himself, that his heart may not turn aside.” (Deut. 17:14-17)
Increasing his horses would show that the king depended upon military might to protect the nation instead of depending on Jehovah, the Protector. And multiplying wives would be dangerous because some of them could be from surrounding pagan nations that engaged in false worship, and those wives could turn the king aside from the true worship of Jehovah.
Solomon did not heed those warnings. Rather, he did what Jehovah specifically said kings should not do. He accumulated thousands of horses and horsemen. (1 Ki. 4:26) He also came to have 700 wives and 300 concubines, many from the pagan nations nearby. These “inclined his heart to follow other gods; and his heart did not prove to be complete with Jehovah.” Solomon engaged in the disgusting false worship of the pagan nations that his foreign wives had introduced him to. As a result, Jehovah said that he would “without fail rip the kingdom away” from Solomon.—1 Ki. 11:1-6, 11.
Solomon no longer focused on the precious privilege he had of representing the true God. The king became immersed in false worship. In time, the entire nation turned apostate, resulting in its destruction in 607 B.C.E. Even though the Jews eventually restored true worship, centuries later Jesus was prompted to declare: “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.” That is just what happened. Jesus declared: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matt. 21:43; 23:37, 38)
As a result of its unfaithfulness, the nation lost the great privilege of representing the true God. In 70 C.E., Roman armies devastated Jerusalem and the temple, and many of the remaining Jews became slaves.
Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Judas heard the wonderful teachings of Jesus and saw the miracles he performed with the help of God’s holy spirit. Yet, Judas did not guard his heart. He had been entrusted with the money box holding the finances of Jesus and the 12 apostles. But “he was a thief and had the money box and used to carry off the monies put in it.” (John 12:6)
His greediness reached a climax when he plotted with the hypocritical chief priests to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. (Matt. 26:14-16) Another who lost focus was Demas, who was a companion of the apostle Paul. Demas did not guard his heart. Paul stated: “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things.”—2 Tim. 4:10; read Proverbs 4:23.