Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba. As a child, Solomon had the advantage of a godly upbringing. His father, whom the Bible refers to as “a man after God’s own heart” gave his son a good example to follow. He was privileged to be chosen by God to succeed his father to the throne of Israel. God gave him the task of building the first temple. Solomon got the opportunity to exceed his father King David in his loyalty and faithfulness to God, but he allowed persistent disobedience and stubborn refusal to repent to separate him from God .
Solomon asks for wisdom
The early part of Solomon’s reign demonstrated that he had a desire to follow his father’s godly example. Immediately after his inauguration, the young king recognised that the task of leading a nation was beyond his abilities. In humility, he admitted his need for wisdom and understanding in handling the difficulties the people would bring for his council. No doubt, he saw his father praying to God in times of need, so he asked God for the necessary prudence and empathy that would make him a successful leader.
God was impressed that this young king was thinking of the needs of his people rather than his selfish desires, so God gave him the wisdom he asked for but added personal riches as a bonus (1Kings 3:7-11).
The Queen of Sheba visits to see the riches and splendour of Solomon
Solomon ultimately became exceedingly wise and profusely rich. Kings and queens of other nations heard of his fame and came to see whether what they had heard was true. The queen of Sheba was one of these dignitaries who visited Solomon to see the extent of his riches and to test his knowledge. She arrived with a large entourage of attendants and security personnel. She brought an abundance of gifts in the form of livestock, spices, clothing, jewellery to be given to King Solomon. The Queen of Sheba engaged Solomon by asking him some of the most challenging questions she had in her repertoire. He answered each question with unusual discernment and much astuteness. The queen marvelled at the order and affluence that characterised the palace and the country that Solomon led. Her response to all she saw, was that the stories she heard about the splendour, luxury and wisdom of Solomon did not come close to the reality she experienced on her visit (2Chron.9:5-6).
Solomon builds the temple
Solomon built a luxurious palace and a temple that was second to none in splendour. The temple took seven years to complete, and it was an architectural marvel for his day. Materials – wood, stone, precious metals and fabric for the temple came from far and near. The planning, design, coordination and the construction of the temple involved thousands of architects, artisans skilled in working with wood, metals and fabric (2Chron.3; 1Kings 6).
On completion, Solomon dedicated the temple to the God of heaven. At the dedication ceremony, Solomon gave a long prayer extolling the virtues of God and asking him to answer prayers made from the temple. God responded to Solomon’s prayer by sending fire from heaven which consumed the burned offering and sacrifices. God’s glory filled the temple so much that the priests could not enter to continue their work. This remarkable experience led everyone to kneel on the pavement wit faces to the ground worshipping and thanking God (2Chron.6:6-42; 2Chron.7:1-3).
God gave Solomon abundant material possessions, wisdom and peace from his enemies. God gave Solomon the opportunity to build a glorious temple for the Lord. God was with Solomon and answered his prayers. God blessed him with fame and prestige in the eyes of his peers who were leaders of other nations. Unlike his father David, Solomon’s household seemed to be relatively free from sibling rivalry, power hungriness, and moral decay. God handed him a fabulous life filled with peace, wisdom, wealth, comfort and happiness.
As the years rolled by, King Solomon developed an appetite for women. He was not satisfied with a few, but instead, he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines. I am sure that as the number of women he took increased, there was also a corresponding increase in the problems Solomon had to face.
God always discouraged his people from intermarrying with the heathen around them because he knew they would influence his people to turn to other gods. Solomon was no doubt acquainted with that principle, but he either thought that the women could not pressure him to stray from God or his fleshly lust enticed him to take the “forbidden fruit”. Whatever the case was, “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.” 1Kings 11:1
In his old age, Solomon’s wives induced him to follow other gods. He also facilitated the construction of worship places for the various gods his wives worshipped and permitted the worship of false god to thrive in Israel (1Kings 11:3-7).
Solomon ignores God’s covenant
By allowing the worship of false gods in Israel, Solomon was in breach of the contract God had made with Israel at Mount Sinai. The first and second commandments forbad 1) having other gods besides the true God and 2) worshipping images of created things. This blatant and seemingly willful disregard on Solomon’s part, for the commands given to Israel by Moses in the Old Covenant, provoked God’s anger against Solomon. God was patient with Solomon and allowed him time to change, but things only got worse. Solomon showed no inclination toward overhauling his sinful ways (1Kings 11:9-10).
God determined it was time to act to rid idolatry from amongst his people and to punish the impenitent king (1King 11:9-12). God was not about to take the throne from Solomon since he had promised David that one of his descendants would always continue on the throne in Israel. However, God rolled out a punishing set of options on Solomon.
God sends judgement
God ended the forty years of peace and respite he had allowed Solomon to enjoy. The enemies of Israel suddenly began to flex their muscles in rebellion against Solomon’s rule (1Kings 11:14, 23). Solomon’s troubles escalated when one of his officials named Jeroboam rebelled against him (1Kings 11:26).
God final act of judgement on King Solomon for his obstinate refusal to adhere to the covenant Israel made with God, was to take part of the kingdom of Israel from his descendants and give it to Jeroboam. This act took place after the death of Solomon and during the reign of his son Rehoboam.
Our lesson from Solomon
Solomon had everything that anyone could ever hope to have. He had wisdom, wealth, peace and most of all an excellent relationship with God. The tragedy of the life of Solomon is that he threw all of that away so he could satisfy his concupiscent fantasies with heathen women from every nation that God had expressly forbidden as inappropriate for his people. Consequently, he turned from God and embraced idolatry. Solomon started well, but unfortunately, he did not finish well.
We Christians, have all we need for life and godliness. Jesus Christ, through his precious blood, shed at Calvary and his resurrection gave us forgiveness of sins, placing us in his kingdom of light. We now have peace with God, eternal life, an inheritance that can never fade, tarnish or be corrupted. All of these priceless gifts are ours through the gracious benevolence of our heavenly Father. Our triune God walks with us along the way to enable us to endure and successfully finish the race we are asked to run.
The Apostle Paul likens the Christian walk to a race in which he encourages all to “…Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Cor.9:24. Again Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, …” 2Tim. 4:7-8. Let us strive with all the strength God affords us through his Holy Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, discarding our former way of life and putting on Christ. Let every Follower of Jesus heed the words of Hebrews 4:11, “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following their (Israel’s including Solomon’s) example of disobedience.”
The writer of Hebrews gave us this timely encouragement when he admonished, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1). Brothers and sisters, run to win.