His judgement in the case of a paternal dispute is legendary (1 Kings 3:16-28). His sword provided the ‘DNA’ evidence for who was the real mother. His wisdom exceeded that of the wise men of the East early in his reign and with it he compiled many proverbs. Given the honour of building the first Israelite temple and being blessed by a promise by God, Solomon had it all.
But he blew it!
How? By failing to remember God’s requirements for a king who sits on the throne of Israel. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 Moses recorded the Lord God’s expectations for those who rule over His people. They needed to have their own copy of the Law, and read from it every day. The reason was to learn to fear the Lord. Nor were they to hoard excessive wealth and marry numerous wives, a custom prevalent in surrounding cultures. Because the Almighty had promised to be the Nation’s defender, kings were forbidden to rely upon the army of Egypt or the power of horses and chariots. Added to that the king must not consider himself as superior to his people.
In 1 Kings 11 is the sad list of this wisest of men sliding down the moral and spiritual slope into spiritual stupidity and ignominy. I would suggest he stood on the top of the slippery slope when he ignored reading and obeying God’s word. This is evident by the fact he took to himself wives (probably politically expedient) from nations Yahweh had specifically said “no” too! The result was they turned his heart to pander to their idols, and more than likely to their loose morals. Solomon appears to have been a collector of horses, chariots and gold. He also knew how to tax his people. All of this would destroy his reputation, his spiritual life and damage the character of his son Rehoboam.
In his book ‘Bible Characters’, Alexander Whyte says of this king the saddest of statements. ‘There is no repentance anywhere in Solomon’. His father messed up big time but recognised his error and Psalm 51 is a beautiful and humble expression of repentance. No such psalm or comment can be found from the pen or mouth of Solomon. What a warning this is for us all. When we begin the slide downhill from the Lord’s calling, the way to get off is for the Lord to yank you out. Trouble is, He will not, cannot do it until you call out as a sign of repentance, “Lord help! Lord forgive! Lord have mercy!”
Solomon didn’t practice what he wrote. Consider: ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight’ (Proverbs 3:5). ‘The end of the matter; … Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.’ There is so much more that could be added here. Even that beautiful love poem ‘Song of Solomon’ is tainted. If he wrote it, did he have multiple copies made for his numerous wives? How terribly, terribly sad for the poem is so beautiful. Again there is a warning for us. What we write, what we say, may be lovely and true but its power and meaning will be lessened by personal insincerity and hypocrisy.
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 it isn’t how you start the race God callsWhen we imagine there isn’t more to discover from God’s word, more reasons to serve and worship, more awareness of our spiritual weakness, we are hitting the slippery slope. When we do not fear the seductive power of the World or recognise we have taken the wrong track and therefore no need for repentance, the promised winner’s garland is fading.
Solomon is a warning best expressed in his father’s lament about King Saul, ‘How the mighty have fallen.’ Saul died most noble in battle. Solomon withered into a most ignoble departure into the presence of the Lord he had disappointed.
Lord, kick us, me, off the slippery slope! Keep me focused on the race set before us, before me! Let me not be a stumbling block to other runners, or would be runners! Lord, hear our - my plea. Amen!