A book entitled Money, Sex and Power hit the religious market some years back. The primary point of the author was that very few Christians can resist the temptations posed by free sex, great wealth, or power over others. He was right. Many gifted men and women who started out with clean character and admirable goals have fallen like dominoes when pride blossomed to full blown corruption. And the great King Solomon must take his place in this long line of fallen leaders.
Solomon started out with great promise. After he was crowned king of Israel, instead of asking God for long life, riches, or an overpowering military, Solomon asked only for wisdom to lead God’s people justly. God was pleased with the unselfishness of the request and promised Solomon what he asked, as well as external blessings.
In the decades to follow success crowned Solomon’s efforts in every sphere. He expanded trade extensively, further strengthened the military, wrote numerous songs, wise proverbs, and was an expert in natural history. Last, but not least, he built great public works including the famous “Solomon’s Temple.”
As a young, newly crowned king, Solomon had prayed: “O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in…” But as the years passed Solomon’s treasuries filled with gold. He ruled one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries of his time. Everywhere he went people flattered him for his intellect and his great success, and apparently there was no one close enough to keep his feet on the ground…no one to remind him of his spiritual vulnerability.
Solomon’s slide away from God probably began innocently enough. He knew that if he took the daughter of Pharaoh as his wife it would amount to a fail-safe peace treaty with Egypt. In the beginning Solomon may have rationalized: “Maybe, in time, she will realize that Yahweh is the only true God. In the meantime, I will continue worshiping Yahweh and she can worship her own gods.” But as time passed Solomon took more and more foreign women as wives. He began worshiping Astarte, goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the Ammonite god. Eventually he even built shrines to foreign gods on a mountain east of Jerusalem.
Solomon’s moral breakdown was devastating. God declared that because of Solomon’s sin, only one Israeli tribe would be passed on to his son. Even this concession would be for David’s sake, not Solomon’s. There is no clear evidence that Solomon ever fully repented of his sin. However, if he authored Ecclesiastes he finally appeared to realize the total futility of life without God and he summarized his discussion by stating, “The end of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, for that is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every secret whether good or evil.”
What can we learn from Solomon?
Solomon stands as a silent warning to all those ambitious believers who start out brimming with promises of lifelong devotion to God and then are slowly lured away. It is vitally important that we remain accountable throughout our lives both to God’s Word and to mature, trusted friends who can set us back on course when we drift toward the rocks. For we must be as concerned with how we will end our pilgrimage as we are with how we began.
Bible Verses about Solomon
2 Samuel 12:24-25; 1 Kings chaps. 1-11; 1 Chron. chaps. 28-29;2 Chron. chaps. 1-9; Matt. 12:42
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was Solomon in the Bible
- Why did Solomon go bad?
- What good things did Solomon do?
- Who built the Tempe in Jerusalem?
- What is the Temple mount?
- How did Solomon get wise?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis