Saturday, September 4, 2010

THE TRAGEDY OF SOLOMON'S LIFE

THE TRAGEDY OF SOLOMON'S LIFE
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing

“I have indeed built a magnificent temple
for You, a place for You to dwell forever.”
1 Kings 8:13

“In the eleventh year in the month of Bul,
the eighth month, the temple was finished
in all its details according to its specifications.
He had spent seven years building it.”
1 Kings 6:38

“It took Solomon thirteen years, however,
to complete the construction of his palace.”
1 Kings 7:1

We often think of Solomon as the ‘man of wisdom’ God made him.  He was known throughout the entire world this way in his time.  We also might know Solomon because his father David handed him the task of completing the Temple in Jerusalem, the first time God had chosen to let Israel make a permanent place for the Ark of the Covenant.  This magnificent Temple was to be the physical focus of Israel, to remind them of the glory of the Lord who had brought them out of Egypt and given them their Promised Land.

Many of us go around quoting Proverbs, which is the written wisdom Solomon handed down to us.  His many stories, poems and sayings are used even by those who don’t know God, as examples of rules to live by.

Unfortunately, his life is a great example for us, too.  Of how God can call a man, and gift a man, and do great things through a man, and how that man, by coveting the world and the things in the world and lusting for pleasure, can destroy the very work God set out to do through him.    

Read the Scriptures above.  In fact, read 1 Kings chapters 1-11 for an in-depth, sad look at how sin can destroy men, and lead whole nations into futility.

David’s sin with Bathsheba set the stage for this tragedy.  As the son of David’s affair with the woman David had coveted enough to have her husband murdered, Solomon had a dubious start.  However, God, in His mercy, actually decreed that this union that had started out in sin would be blessed with the heir to David’s throne.  What a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness this was to Israel.  All Israel knew what had taken place, yet God had chosen the young man produced by a terrible choice to govern them.  This was a picture of the long-suffering patience of God with even our sins, so long as we turn to Him in repentance and change our ways.

But, as Paul Harvey used to say on the radio, we need to know “the rest of the story”.

Solomon was given the task of building the Temple.  He succeeded brilliantly, being the wise and brilliant strategist and thinker he was.  He was politically savvy, and made alliances that brought Israel wealth and fame.  He found fantastic leaders who could muster the tens of thousands of workers to bring the materials and forge them into perfectly shaped blocks of stone and timber beams to complete the structure.  He engineered and designed the Temple and all the building and pavements around it.  He discovered incredibly talented workers of precious metals to create art of unparalleled beauty to adorn it.

When it was finished, he was so talented that Solomon could even write and recite prayers that would move the huge crowds from around the world at its dedication.  He could figure out the logistics of the sacrificial program which would involve hundreds of thousands of animals and plan for the housing and meals for the vast numbers of people staying in Jerusalem for the two weeks of festivals held to celebrate the Temple’s opening.

This man was so impressive it makes our current world leaders pale in comparison.

So how, at the end of his life, did this great man end up walking away from God, leaving entirely the path he had been set upon?

It’s simple.  Solomon had never let go of the world.  He had always held the world and its charms in his heart, alongside his love for God.  From the beginning he lusted after women, especially women from Egypt and Assyria and the other foreign cultures that served their idolatrous gods. 

“After Pharaoh’s daughter had come up
from the City of David to the palace
Solomon had built for her,
he had constructed the supporting terraces.”
1 Kings 9:24

This man brought along his addiction to pleasure and the world (represented by Pharaoh's daugher from Egypt, with its decadence, its wealth, and its worship of gods that were not gods) right into the heart of Jerusalem, and in front of God’s people.  Later he added many more foreign wives and concubines to serve at his pleasure in the palace.

From the beginning Solomon, though loving God and hoping to serve him, had embraced his love for the good life.  He spent nearly twice as much time building his own palace and adorning it as he spent on building the house of God.  Again, he had a love for himself and for the things of the world that was greater than his love for God.

At the end of his life, surrounded by his wealth and his many foreign wives, Solomon died a spiritual pauper, and spent his last days having God’s chosen successor, Jeroboam, hunted down to be killed.

Solomon shrunk back from the true work God had given him.  He gladly took on the big tasks, the ones that made him a star.  But the true work of God was for Solomon to lead the people of God to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and to obey Him.

Read Ecclesiastes to hear Solomon’s ramblings later in life, the writings of a man who had seen the futility, the vanity, of man’s own pride and self-focus.  He saw it, but he still went away from God, unable to give up his love for these things.

What are we learning from this, brethren?  I hope by the Spirit’s illumination we see that we are all like Solomon.  We want to bring the world and our love for the world in with us through the Narrow Gate of the Kingdom of God.  We have our loves, and we don’t want to give them up.  We think that because we are the Chosen of God, and He has called us, that we cannot fall.  Change that dangerous thinking, my brothers and sisters.

When Christ comes to us, and calls us, we must follow.  And when he tells us to give up our alliances with the world, we must do that.  Or like Solomon, we will be led astray by these other loves.  Solomon did not persevere, did not receive what God had promised.  Neither will we, unless we persevere.

“You need to persevere so that when you have
done the will of God, you will receive
what He has promised….But we are not
of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who believe and are saved.”
Heb. 10:36,39

Don’t have a shallow, unbelieving heart that thinks it can hold onto the things of the world and still have intimate fellowship with our Father and His Son.  It’s impossible, and you’ll just be fooling yourself, inviting the same disaster that was Solomon’s life.



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