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Solomon: The Second Wisest Man to Walk the Earth

            The search for wisdom is part of many people’s lives. Some look for it in philosophy. Others from professors in college. Others, yet, from the very word that God has given us called The Bible. As we consider wisdom and man’s search for it, let us consider Solomon and learn from him in this matter. In this article, we will discuss Solomon’s background. Then, we will consider his downfall and repentance. Then we will wrap it up with some lessons that we can learn from Solomon. It is my hope that this will help us in our own quest for wisdom in this life.


The Background of Solomon

            The name Solomon means “peace” or “peaceable” (2 Samuel 12:24) (Colley 159).[i] He was also called Jedidiah by the prophet Nathan. Jedidiah means “The beloved of the Lord” (Ibid). Solomon was the son of David. Solomon would be the one to build the temple which is a type of Christ being that Christ built the eternal kingdom. "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 NASB)[ii]. Not much is written about his childhood life. I often wonder how David taught him and reared him. I also think of the great responsibility David had in rearing Solomon as well as Solomon’s responsibility to honor his father, David. Being a son of the king of Israel means that you must hold to a strong reputation.

            Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba after his sin and confrontation. I wonder how this affected his livelihood as he grew. It shows though the effect of sin and how it affects others than the one committing the sin. “He was unfortunate, in that there were some elements in his father’s example that would inevitably have a pernicious effect upon a young man’s life” (Thompson 1645)[iii]. It is not the case that Solomon inherited sin, but we know things the father does can have an impact on a child’s life. Although David had his times of mistakes, he also made an important contribution to Solomon seeking after God.

            Solomon as he begins will request one thing from God and it would be a humble one. “And now, LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am like a little boy; I do not know how to go out or come in. “And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil. For who is capable of judging this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9 NASB). This request pleased God so much that He not only granted Solomon wisdom, but also the riches and honor. This is where Solomon begins.

 

Solomon’s Downfall and Repentance

            Solomon was wise and wealthy. He not only built the temple, but his own home as well as many other things. There was nothing he couldn’t have. This would be part of his downfall into sin. His riches and wisdom drew much attention and Solomon had many wives even from the nations which God had said to avoid marriage (1 Kings 11:2). Even though Solomon was wise, he was still human. He allowed his sinful desire to overcome him. The Bible says, “he had seven hundred wives, who were princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of his father David had been.” (1 Kings 11:3-4 NASB). This displeased God and made Him angry (1 Kings 11:9-10). Solomon should have known better than to fall into sin, but he made a mistake by allowing his wives to turn his heart away from God.

            There is an uncertainty as to whether or not Solomon repented of his sin. However, I believe that Solomon did and that Ecclesiastes is his book of repentance. We know that man tends to fall, but is capable of turning back to God. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon discusses the vanity of life. He reveals to us his challenges and struggle. He reveals to us much of the things he learned throughout life. He drew the correct conclusion that all of life is about fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). “Solomon exhorts us to fear God, to have faith in His existence, to experience His grace, to stand in awe of His person, and to resolve to obey Him. That is the secret to life. That is the secret of wholeness in man” (Stedman 187)[iv].

 

Lessons From Solomon

            There are many lessons that we can take from Solomon and the first one that comes to mind is the need to seek for godly wisdom. James tells us “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18 NASB). Solomon, who wrote Proverbs, even said “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 NASB). If we are going to please God, then we need to seek Him for wisdom (James 1:5).

            Another lesson that comes to mind is to respect God’s law concerning marriage. In the case of Solomon, he allowed the world to influence how he saw marriage. God never commanded marriage of multiple wives. He also gave commands not to marry those of certain nations because of this very thing that happened to Solomon. God had warned that they would take their hearts away and Solomon allowed just that. I don’t know if his father’s influence of having more than one wife affected Solomon or not, but it does not matter. We need to respect God’s boundaries when it comes to marriage.

            We can learn that riches can hinder our devotion to the Lord. It could be that Solomon’s wealth drew the women to him. It is not a sin to be wealthy, but we are warned about the danger of riches. “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 NASB). There is a temptation to covet money and things. Paul told Timothy to “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-18 NASB).

            A final lesson that we can draw is to keep our vow of devotion to the Lord. Solomon wrote, “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you not vow, than vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NASB). Why did I choose this lesson? The reason is that Solomon’s heart turned away from his devotion to God. He was foolish in allowing it to happen. He should have remembered his love for God, but I believe that he learned that at the end of his life. He figured it out. This is why he wrote Ecclesiastes. This shows us our need to keep our vow of devotion to the Lord as well as our vow to our spouses and mankind in general.


Conclusion

            Solomon was a wise man, but he wasn’t the wisest to walk the earth. The wisest one was Jesus Christ. We learn many things from Solomon from his upbringing to his downfall and all the way to his repentance (Ecclesiastes). Our goal is to seek after the wisdom that’s from above and to please the Lord all the days of our lives. When all is said and done, our whole being is tied to our devotion to God. As Solomon correctly said, “The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NASB).


End Notes

[i] Yeatts, Steve E., and Gary L. Grizzell, editors. Fifth Annual Greater Murfreesboro Area Lectures: Lessons From The Lives Of The Kings: Saul, David, Solomon, and The Kings of Judah. Tracts for the Nations, 2002.

[ii] “Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org

[iii] Thompson, Frank Charles, editor. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible: King James Version. Zondervan, 2021. 

[iv] Stedman, Ray C. Is This All There Is To Life? Discovery House Publishers, 1999.

 

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