Hard-Hearted Solomon Part 17 in The Tale of Four Kings
We are presently looking at the first three kings in Israel's history, Saul, David, and Solomon. We will eventually conclude this series, "A Tale of Four Kings" by looking at the last king, the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time, I hope we will all get the perspective on leadership and discipleship we all need.
Solomon's Autobiographical Closing Words
Some, I fear, try to make more of Solomon's closing words in Ecclesiastes than are there. They say he was remorseful. First, they are the closing words of his autobiography; they are not his closing words. His final words are Solomon's Song. Second, there is no personal repentance from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12 that I can find. It is vitally important we never impose upon any text how we want it to read. (Revelation 22:18, 19)
Consider Solomon's life and his closing words carefully. "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach when you will say, "I have no pleasure in them..." Old age, from an old man's perspective, me, is difficult because we can't live life with the physical vitality we once did. However, the spiritual man embraces life in the presence of Christ and increasingly longs for it, "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God..." and following. (Hebrews 12)
Solomon tells us, don't wait until it is too late, then concludes with "Futility of futilities," says the Preacher, "all is futility!" If by "all," he means all this life is futile for the redeemed, he is wrong. The Church began with only the Old Testament. Consider Peter's words! "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories." (1 Peter 1:10, 11)
For all Solomon's search for knowledge, when did he ever prophesy of such things? Ecclesiastes is autobiographic with an emphasis on futility. Yet, he always returns to his vast wisdom, "In addition to being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out, and arranged many proverbs." This statement does not seem to be headed in the direction of humility and repentance to me.
"The words of the wise are like goads..", he says. The word goads in Hebrew is "spiked sticks for driving cattle." Is that what a shepherd does? He drives cattle. I thought a shepherd leads sheep. The Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep. David was a heroic shepherd.
By Solomon's "last" words, many find solace despite his sinful life and even though there is no observable repentance. Here they are, "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." Where is the hope? In keeping God's law?
Great! There is a judgment coming, but where does Solomon give the reader any hope. Does he speak about the restoration of Israel? Does he admonish the people to repent and avoid condemnation? Does he point the way to God's salvation? "I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away, and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel." (Isaiah 46:13). "Restore us, God of our salvation ...Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation." (Psalm 85:4-7) Where does Solomon ever speak of salvation? God spoke of it at the consecration of the temple when he warned Solomon.
Where is the record of Solomon's repentance? When did he take down the idols he set up, grind them to powder, scatter them over the water's surface, and drink them? Moses caused the people to do the same when they sinned.
Many a sinner will go to hell from the pew. However, Solomon was not just sitting in a pew; he was standing behind the pulpit. Should we believe that no ministers of the Gospel will go to hell? Maybe, the supreme example of a seemingly godly pastor in sheep's clothing is Solomon.
The Take Away from Ecclesiastes
We have only two options regarding Solomon. 1. A sinfully selfish, rebellious, compromising, & lost person who spoke for God. 2. A sinfully selfish, rebellious, compromising & and saved person who spoke for God. In either case, we are still stuck with a sinful man used by God. The takeaway is not to decide Solomon's fate as if any of us can know his heart. The takeaway is to be warned by his life, end, and fear God.
"Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as on the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. "Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know my ways; as I swore in my anger, they certainly shall not enter My rest." (Hebrews 3:7-11).
Like the children of Israel Solomon will be judged according to the knowledge he received. Consider the warning given to the Church. "How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:29)
To be continued...
If you would like to attend a live Bible study with yours truly, follow the link below on Saturday Mark 13 at 4:30 PM. https://us04web.zoom.us/j/3023444598?pwd=ZHJxVTdZN05ERGhKMThGeUxKTFdPZz09