Radical Renewal 37: The Unwisdom Of Solomon

King Solomon was a perplexing man. He was born with every advantage imaginable and yet he failed in the most important area of his life. Let me just list a few of his advantages… His father was King David, easily the most loved king of Israel, who favored Solomon above his brothers and sisters and actually abdicated the throne in Solomon’s favor. He asked for and was given wisdom at the beginning of his reign (II Chronicles 1:11, I Kings 4:29). He became extremely wealthy (II Chronicles 9:22) and he married lots of women (which was allowed in Israel in those days). The man literally had everything. We would say he had it all together. Nevertheless, Solomon backslid away from the Lord.

When Jesus talked about backsliding in the parable of the sower and the seeds (Luke 8:7 &14) He mentioned three things that draw people away from Himself – worries, riches and pleasure. You’d think that riches would be the thing that pulled Solomon away from God, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Solomon seemed to take riches as a matter of course and used them like a tool. Apparently he didn’t love them.

Well, then, what about worries? On the face of it, being a king, Solomon wouldn’t seem to have many worries. In fact, however, he was in charge of a whole kingdom. Everything was held together by his wisdom or lack of it. And yet, it looks like Solomon took all that in stride, buoyed up by his faith in God.

Which leads us to pleasures, and one of the first things we notice about Solomon was that he loved women – particularly foreign women. This was absolutely forbidden under Jewish law.
Solomon’s downfall began in a small way, with a political alliance. In fact, I’m sure the king justified the beginning of his backsliding by telling himself that it was his duty and responsibility to protect his people. And so he formed an alliance with the current pharaoh of Egypt by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter (I Kings 3:1). And yet, Solomon loved the Lord at that time (I Kings 3:3) and the Lord even appeared to him with the intention of giving him what he needed to become a great king (I Kings 3:5).

That was all well and good, wasn’t it? But Solomon didn’t stop there. The Bible tells us that he married many foreign women (I Kings 11:1-8). Unfortunately, the same passage I just noted says that he loved them, and that they drew him away from loving the Lord with all his heart. In other words, Solomon became double-minded, the backslider’s curse.

What’s important here is how God dealt with King Solomon’s condition. “…Since this is your attitude and you have not kept My covenant and My decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your associates” (I Kings 11:6, New International Version). Just like all backsliders, Solomon lost God’s blessing. Like Esau, he despised his own birthright.

This is very sad, because the man who was considered to be the wisest king in the whole world was reduced to spiritual defeat simply because he allowed sin to get a hold in his life. When you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you can see how far he slipped. In the second verse of that book it’s obvious how much faith he’d lost as he wrote, “‘Meaningless, meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). If you’ll read further, it’s obvious that he even lost sight of Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20) and had no hope of eternal life. Through compromise, doubt and disobedience he had lost the faith of his father David, who wrote: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fulness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11, NASB, 1995 update).

Take a warning from this. Solomon may have been an extreme example, but he was still a good example for us. Anything that draws our hearts away from the living God is nothing but poison, whether it’s worries or riches or pleasures. The only way back is through renewal.