What do you know about King Solomon?
Solomon’s life can be divided into three parts: Childhood faith formation, early/middle reign glory days, and later years of fall and idolatry. We have three books attributed to Solomon: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. In Proverbs we find the personal name of God (YHWH) many times. In Ecclesiastes this name is missing and the generic word for God (Elohim) occurs. In Song of Solomon, neither occur. Sadly, this seems to be the trajectory of Solomon’s faith as well.
Solomon’s childhood must have been full of turmoil. He was the second child born to King David and Bathsheba. As you know, she was the widow of Uriah the Hittite whom David caused to be killed in battle to cover David’s adultery with her and her unwanted pregnancy. Solomon was born into a complex mix of Royal family tragedy. His older brother, an illegitimate child of David, died soon after being born. Then, Solomon was conceived by David and Bathsheba after their marriage, and God graciously gave him the name Jedidiah, which means: loved by Jehovah. So, the sin of David was taken away but all was still not good.
Solomon grew up during the aftermath of David’s fall and under the period of perhaps David’s hardest years. God warned of a sword that would not depart from David’s house. Solomon witnessed the resulting events of Amnon’s rape of his sister, Tamor. He must have seen the aftermath of Absalom’s murder of Amnon. Solomon must have been with the Royal family that later fled Jerusalem when Absalom led a rebellion to take over the kingdom. Perhaps Solomon even heard David’s cry for Absalom after Joab slew him in battle. Solomon grew up and lived through the most tragic times in David’s reign. Solomon was at risk at the end of David’s life when his older brother Adonijah made his move to take the throne.
Solomon experienced all these things and was surely impacted by them.
In David’s final days, after Solomon was already installed as king, David counseled his son, Solomon in the construction of the temple of God, and in remaining faithful to God, and that was good. But David also gave Solomon a hit list of people to take care of after David died and that left Solomon with a laundry list to clean up.
Solomon began his reign in faith and humility. He sought God’s blessing in worship and God appeared to Solomon twice. God gave Solomon a chance to ask for anything, and Solomon asked God for a wise discerning heart to lead God’s people. Good choice! God was pleased with Solomon’s request and granted him not only an enormous grant of wisdom and understanding, but also power and wealth, peace and prosperity like no one before him had ever attained. It was said in both Kings and Chronicles that Israel became enormously wealthy and silver was as common as stones in Solomon’s days.
Solomon soon began construction of the Temple and his own palace. It took seven years to finish the Temple and thirteen to finish his palace. The dedication of the first Temple gives us a beautiful section of scripture. Solomon leads the whole procession with blessings, sacrifices, prayers and splendorous celebration. In 2 Chronicles 6:14f we read a beautiful prayer of dedication for the temple. (read 14-14). After this, God appears to Solomon in answer to his prayers and promises to His continued blessings on them as long as Solomon and Israel remain faithful. Then God gives a warning: if you turn away and go after foreign gods, this place will become a pile of rubble and a byword. It’s almost like God knew what was coming, right?
As we finished this week’s readings, everything is going supremely well under Solomon’s reign and all Israel is enjoying peace and prosperity like never before. All is well. Finally, the days of tragedy in David’s life have passed and a new day has dawned in Israel with David’s son Solomon leading the way. Both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles spend a lot of time on the glory days of prosperity, power and peace during the early years of king Solomon. Most of it surrounds the construction and dedication of the temple and God’s response to Solomon’s prayers. Would that they all continued to keep the faith!
Before we read ahead where things begin to fall apart, let’s take a clue from 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles and relish the good times. And these were really good times. Solomon was walking with God, receiving wisdom and blessings that put Solomon’s name before foreign national leaders as far as Sheba. Solomon’s greatness and wisdom were phenomenal! The biblical writers run out of terms to describe his wisdom, wealth and renown. The golden years of Israel reside right here. There has never been another time in Israel’s history when she has reached this level of notoriety. God expresses his love and graciousness to Israel in astounding physical benefits. How much gold do you need? How much power and popularity can this little nation of Israel handle? So, what’s the lesson? What can we learn and apply?
If you knew your Christian faith would bring you perfect health and untold wealth, would that make you more faithful?
If you knew that walking closely with God would bring you power and honor and glory and blessing, would you be more motivated to stay obedient and loyal to God?
What benefits from God would it take to make you let go of everything else in this world and cling to and love only Him all the days of your life? What? What could God give you so that you would embrace His salvation and never let go?
Can God buy your love? Can He purchase your heart?
Consider what the Bible promises us. Jesus said, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” God didn’t just give us temporal gold and goods, He gave you His only begotten Son. He gave us His Holy Spirit. He gave us all spiritual blessings. He gave us the promises that we who follow Jesus will be coheirs with Jesus Christ, forever! Jesus even said, “To him who overcomes I will give to sit with me on my throne, just as I over came and have sat on my Father’s throne.” Just what is the inheritance of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son? All power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing… for how long? Forever! Will God really bestow all this on His people? Absolutely!
Question: Who will wholeheartedly believe this? Who will give to God their wholehearted devotion? Who will turn from all other suiters and all other idols, casting them all aside and give their whole self only to Him? Who will take the pledge and keep it?
What God did for Israel here in Solomon’s early reign should get our attention and let us know that God can and will bless His faithful children. He has all the power to do so, and He owns everything. But will He? Can we trust Him? Yes, we can… the question is: will we? Will we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He who left eternal glory and came here to call us to Himself, to teach us how to live, to die on the cross to pay for our sins, to rise up from death’s grip and demonstrate God’s power over it, and to promise to return for us and bring us to glory to dwell with Him forever. Will we keep the faith? Will we surrender our whole hearts to Him? The gospel is better news than you or I can even imagine! It’s power to save is for those who believe and obey it. Jesus speaks of a great reward, eternal in heaven. He also speaks of a great punishment, everlasting in hell. On a one to ten scale, how much do you believe Him and how much do you love Him?
Do you put your trust in God? Is He the foundation of your hope? Do you love God above all else?
Solomon’s whole-hearted devotion to God was formed under the trials of his childhood years under his father, David’s instruction and teaching. It was tested during his years of prosperity, power and popularity. It was corrupted under his companionship with his idol worshipping wives.
Where was Solomon’s love in Proverbs? He seems closest to God in this book.
Where is Solomon’s love in Ecclesiastes? He seems distant from God in this book.
Where is Solomon’s love in Song of Solomon?
Where is you love today?