March 14, 2014
Solomon was the son of King David and succeeded him in the throne over Israel. His father told him to always follow God and walk in His ways and he would prosper in all he would do and everywhere he would go and the Lord would keep His promise that there would always be one of his descendants on the throne of Israel (1 Kings 2:1-4).
When Solomon was a young king God told him to ask of Him what he wanted Him to give him. So Solomon asked for a discerning heart to govern God’s people and to distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:7-14) God was pleased with his unselfish request and made Solomon the wisest man who ever lived. He also gave him a bonus of both wealth and honor, unequal to any other king and added that if Solomon would walk in obedience to Him and keep his decrees and commands that he would give him a long life. Years later God reinforced what He had previously promised by telling him that if he would walk before Him faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness and observe all His decrees and laws, that He would establish the royal throne over Israel forever as He had promised his father David (I Kings 9:4-7). But He added that if he or his descendants turn away from Him and go off and serve others gods that they would be cut off from Israel.
Solomon became the richest and wisest king of all time. And because he sought God, there was peace, security and prosperity for the nation of Israel. He built God’s temple and people sought his wisdom from all over. However, Solomon began to engage in habits that would make his kingdom ineffective. He knew what was right but he made choices that were not consistent with what God told him to do. He lusted for women and had 700 wives, most of them foreign princesses, and 300 concubines. These foreign women lured him to worship false gods and idols. He turned to worldly pleasures and surrounded himself with them, rather than pursuing the things of God. He taxed his subjects heavily and forced thousands upon thousands of men into slave labor for his building projects.
Later in his life he realized that all that he had gained and all he had done were in vain apart from God. None of his pursuits or possessions gave him security and contentment. He had more wisdom than anyone else but it didn’t satisfy him either. All his successes were only temporary.
In Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 he says “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
He came to realize that all that he could personally do or experience was meaningless on its own. You can work hard and gain wealth and pleasure and experience and wisdom but in the end we all die with none of it.
He summed up life in Ecclesiastes 12:13 when he wrote “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every good deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Solomon did learn some very important life lessons before it was too late. Unfortunately his son Rehoboam, who succeeded him on the throne, abandoned the law of the Lord (2 Chronicles 12:1) and the kingdom was divided.
What can we gain from all of this? We must pursue the things of God, not our own pleasures and desires. Whatever we personally deem important needs to be put in perspective according to God’s commands. Are we striving to gain things that will satisfy and gratify ourselves or is it pleasing to God? Do we trade real living for things that don’t last? Are we sacrificing our own bodies for momentary excitement? Are we risking our personal integrity for wealth that will fade? Are we trading honesty for lies?
In the end, whatever we do or achieve for our own benefit will just be chasing after the wind. Security and contentment can only be found in a personal relationship with God. And like Solomon, we can have all the knowledge in the world but if we don’t act on what is right it’s all in vain. Only spiritual pursuits will last and have an impact that will satisfy and be meaningful. Seek after God and keep His commandments.