Solomon had everything going for him: wisdom, wealth and power. Unfortunately, he had many vices as well: greed, lust, and idolatry. These combined to bring about the undoing of Israel in more ways than one.
Solomon was not the obvious choice for the throne. But, he was the one hand-picked by David to be his successor. While Solomon eventually took his place as one of the few truly great kings of Israel, he was very different from his father. David was a warrior, accustomed to dealing with conflict (or at least the threat of conflict) for most of his time as king. By contrast, Solomon resided over the most lasting peace in Israel’s history… even to this day!
Early in Solomon’s reign as Israel’s 3rd king, he had a dream in which God spoke to him. He told the new king, “Ask whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” Imagine such an offer. Think of the possibilities!
But, Solomon didn’t hesitate. He immediately asked for wisdom (proving he already had a good measure!). This request pleased God. He granted this request, and added both riches and honor he had not asked for! See 1Ki. 3.
Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Wisdom is “skill in living”. It is not just knowing the facts; but how to apply those facts to life. According to the Bible, someone with a high IQ can still be a fool, while a high school dropout can be very wise. The difference lies in the ability to understand and live out God’s truths.
Ask God to make you a wise person. Then spend some times today reading the wise sayings of Solomon in the book of Proverbs.
* Lack of knowledge is usually not the problem; lack of wisdom usually is.
Without pressures from beyond the kingdom boundaries, Solomon devoted himself to other pursuits – cultivating wisdom (which he famously displayed to the amazement of his subjects and foreign dignitaries alike), forming diplomatic alliances with regional powers like Egypt, and building the temple in Jerusalem.
When Solomon dedicated the temple,Solomon expressed a great truth about God: No building can contain His Presence (2Chron. 6:18-21). God, in His grace, condescends to move among us, but His presence and power cannot be confined to any building or box.
But, Solomon was not without his blind spots. His wisdom did not prevent him from diving headfirst into the reckless pursuit of wealth. He accumulated chariots and horses in violation of God’s command (Deut. 17:16). He used forced labor to build the temple and taxed the people heavily in order to finance his luxurious lifestyle (1Ki. 5:13; 12:4). But, Solomon’s most glaring weakness was his desire for women – LOTS of women! Solomon had 700 wives!! Many of these were probably arranged for diplomatic reasons. Plus he had another 300 concubines!!! Like he accumulated wealth, Solomon’s many wives were expressly forbidden in the Law (Deut. 17:17), and for good reason. Over time, Solomon’s pagan wives lured him away from the One True God.
When Solomon brought these pagan wives into his life, they brought their pagan gods/idols with them. Before long, Solomon was making concessions and compromising his own faith in order to please the numerous women in his life.
Solomon’s sad end reminds us how important it is we don’t enter in to intimate relationships with unbelievers. We can and should befriend them. How else can we share the love of Christ with them? But, we must not risk an emotional bond that jeopardizes our devotion to God.
Are you too close to someone who doesn’t share your belief in Christ? Ask God for the strength to make whatever changes are needed in that relationship.
* A close relationship with the wrong person can devastate your relationship with God!
Solomon’s life ends with him living out his latter days in frustration. You can read his thoughts – like a journal – in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Everyone has ideas about how/where to find lasting happiness. Some people try to find satisfaction in wealth… some in power or prestige… some in pleasure. Some try to find happiness in finding knowledge. Others believe if they can just accomplish bigger goals or feats of skill/strength, that will make them feel complete.
Solomon would advise them differently. Solomon had tried it all. Literally! And he discovered that the only thing that brought real happiness is an active relationship with God.
You will never be able to collect more money, more fame, more accomplishments, or more wisdom than Solomon did. And, if he couldn’t find happiness or satisfaction in so much of those things, we will not be able to either.
If you have never opened yourself up to God through faith in Jesus Christ, do so today. Right now! Invite Him into your life, and allow Him to infuse you with peace and purpose.
* Real fulfillment is only found in knowing God.
You can read Solomon’s story in 2Samuel 12:24—1Kings 11:43. You can read some of his writings in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & the Song of Songs.