Thoughts on Solomon

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. 😀

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Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man to live, drifted from God. His egregious behavior included building altars and temples for idols. Because of Solomon’s disobedience, God split Israel, preserving for Solomon’s heirs only a portion of the kingdom on David’s behalf.

Solomon’s story terrified me as a child. How was it possible to be so wise and still choose false gods rather than Almighty God?

What I later learned was that Solomon’s abandonment of God started with something no one around him may have noticed. It certainly was no different from the kings in neighboring nations. His wayward act? He amassed a standing army—horses and chariots and men. The problem was, this build up was against God’s law, recorded in Deuteronomy 17:16.

As follow-up to this initial departure from God’s plan, Solomon accumulated wives, particularly foreign wives, also prohibited in Deuteronomy. But with this disobedience, he fell victim to the very thing the passage warned about—the foreign wives would lead him into idolatry.

Solomon’s slide away from God is a classic example, given to us for our instruction. Certainly the central point is obedience, but David was no paradigm of adherence to God’s law either, yet he experienced God’s forgiveness. Why not Solomon?

The easy answer is, he was not repentent. Like King Saul of an earlier generation, his response to God’s judgment upon him was an effort to escape the sentence. David’s reaction, on the other hand, when he was confronted for his sin, was humble submission.

But what led to Solomon’s stubborn rebellion? I wish I could point to chapter and verse that explains it because then I would know what to guard against. What I suspect is that Solomon’s heart belonged to what he acquired. His great army became his protection against invasion. His great wealth became his hedge against famine. His foreign wives became negotiating chips for his spreading influence. He had political savy, glittering wealth, and unstoppable power. Why would he need God?

Ironically, God told Solomon He was giving him riches and honor (I Kings 3:13) to go with his wisdom. And still, according to what Solomon himself wrote, he claimed the credit. “I collected for myself silver and gold … I provided for myself male and female singers … I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me.” (Ecclesiasties 2:8-9)

No mention of God, of His promise to pour out blessings on Solomon.

Apparently, long before Solomon built the first idol temple to appease his foreign wife, before he himself started worshipping these false gods, he had set himself up in his own heart, at least, as God’s rival.

Now that sounds fmiliar. “In the day you [Eve] eat from it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” – Satan

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Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  

3 Comments

  1. My Dad used to say he was “a good bad example.” Solomon is like that, a paradoxical figure, one that pushes the boundaries of our beliefs. Ecclesiastes is one of my all-time favorite books of the Bible, partly because it shows the bleakness of life without God. But aren’t those observations also evidence of the author’s wisdom?

    To me, characters like Solomon validate the reliability of Scripture because they do not romanticize the people of God the way other religious traditions do their saints. However, the question I always ask is, did Solomon’s indiscretions disqualify him from being “the wisest man on earth”? Thanks for your thoughts, Becky!

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  2. I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment. We see it today in the academic world. As people amass more knowledge and “wisdom”, they dethrone God and place their own, self-elevated intellect as king of their heart.

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  3. […] I’ve had a problem with Solomon, King of Israel, son of David. I’ve complained about his life style and even declared his book of Ecclesiastes my least favorite book of the Bible . . . until his book […]

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