Solomon Taught Better than He Lived Part 16 in the series The Tale of 4 Kings
Have you ever stepped back from the pages of Scripture to consider that maybe Solomon was not the man that most assume him to be?
Solomon's Wisdom in Proverbs
As a king, Solomon set out to judge God's people wisely. No one can dispute Solomon's wisdom regarding how people should treat each other. Furthermore, he taught the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). If man could love God and imitate Him perfectly by doing the good He does, he wouldn't need a Savior. Nonetheless, man is helpless to do so.
For this reason, God gave an animal sacrifice to lead the way to the coming Messiah. Solomon indeed sacrificed his share of animals in the worship of God. He also set forth right from wrong exceedingly well. In the wisdom of God, proverbs speak perfectly of wisdom and folly to convict the dumbest fool. Scour the teachings of Solomon and tell me, if you can discover the meaning of life.
Read about Daniel, Abraham, Jacob, Noah, and Job, and you will discover a broken spirit in every one of them. Even closer to home for Solomon, there was perhaps the most broken of them all, David. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:17). Now, please reveal to me the brokenness of Solomon.
Solomon's Futile Life in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes is the auto-biography of the wisest man as self-proclaimed. Solomon never warned us that knowledge inflates our pride, 1 Corinthians 8:1. It took the repentant Pharisee, the Apostle Paul, to warn us of that danger.
Now, let us consider Solomon. After eleven verses that the New American Standard Bible entitles, The Futility of All Endeavors, Solomon concludes that in the Cycle of life, if you will, it is all just an exercise in futility. He states, in verse 12, labeled by the NASB, The Futility of Wisdom. "I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom about everything that has been done under heaven." In other words, he set out to teach. (Ecclesiastes 1:12). Hence, those who can't do, teach.
In chapter two, the futility continues. He expresses his futility in this manner. I explored, I enlarged, I built, I planted, I made, I bought male and female slaves, I also possessed, I also amassed for myself, I provided for myself, Then I became great. All that my eyes desired, I did not refuse them. Do you see a trend here? What is Solomon's wise conclusion? "The wise person's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet, I know that one and the same fate happens to both of them. Then I said to myself, "As is the fate of the fool, it will also happen to me. Why then have I been extremely wise?" (Ecclesiastes 2:14, 15)
Perhaps, if Solomon had been able to see beyond his professed greatness and vast wisdom, he might have noticed that he was the fool. There is a form of morality that is nothing more than hypocrisy. The kindness that does not arise because of love from God is unacceptable to Him. God only approves of that from which He is the source. Sin always begins with self; at the center of sin is the letter "i." Godliness always has God at the center. "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
Solomon taught well but lived poorly. Paul taught from visions received from Christ. By the grace of God, he lived accordingly. "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27) Solomon knew nothing of this wisdom in practice.
Life is futile for those who build their life around themselves instead of God. No matter how moral a man is or how well he lives with others, living for self is the worst type of idolatry.
In chapter three, there is more of the same. Wisely, Solomon teaches that God placed man in time, "yet He set eternity in his heart..." He glorifies God by saying, "I know that everything God does will remain forever." Nonetheless, his conclusion about the man in time is this. "He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." (Verse 11) Solomon lived without an eternal perspective and, worse, without hope. Hope is saving faith in the future.
He always makes excellent statements. He just never comes to the correct conclusion. Chapter eleven of the letter to the Hebrews has been appropriately labeled by commentators the hall of faith. The best indicator of a man's salvation is the presence of faith. The concept of faith that runs through Hebrews eleven eluded poor Solomon.
Concerning the heroes of faith, the writer wrote. "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." Solomon did not see so clearly in Ecclesiastes.
Concerning Abraham, we read. "and the one who had received the promises was offering up his only son..." No wonder he is called the father of all those who possesses saving faith.
Concerning Moses, it says. "Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward." If too much of a good thing is sinful, and it is, Solomon was a very wicked man.
Hebrews eleven begins to conclude by saying. "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised..." No, not in this life, which is Solomon's focus. However, the writer continued, "...because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect." Perspective is everything!
My dear readers, to the degree that we live with an eternal perspective, to that degree, we are living by faith. The Church is not meant to be a schoolhouse of fools.