Named Before Birth – Solomon

Named Before Birth – Solomon

Named Before Birth – Solomon. 

“The Lord said to me, ‘David, you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign.” (1 Chronicles 22:9).

It’s okay to be strong-willed. It’s not necessarily wrong to be stubborn. One has to learn how to be stubborn in the right things. There is such a thing as holy stubbornness, being strong-willed about things of God, Scripture, virtues, mercy. The problem with Solomon was that he started out strong, humbly asking for wisdom (2 Chron. 1:10). He was also fortunate to receive a wise charge from his father David as he assumed the throne: “Obey all the commands of the Lord; learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately; worship and serve God with your whole heart and a willing mind; take my words seriously.” (1 Chron. 28:8-10). How could anyone get a better start than humility before God and wise guidance from the outgoing king?

Unfortunately, Solomon grew to be weak-willed where he should have been strong. True, living up to his name, which means “peace,’ Solomon ruled in peace for forty years. But his personal life didn’t meet the standards of God. Way back in Mosaic Law, the Lord made clear His expectations regarding kings of Israel: “The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself, or send his people to Egypt to buy horses; the king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord; the king must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver or gold for himself.” (Deut. 17:16-17). The king was not to build up a big military, he was to be a one-woman man, and he was not to be excessively wealthy. How did Solomon stack up to these expectations from the Lord?

As it turns out, Solomon dramatically disobeyed all three laws in grand fashion:

  1. Horses and Military: Solomon developed a stable of 12,000 horses and 1,400 chariots. He maintained a reliance on his military instead of dependence on God. Making things worse, he even purchased many of his horses from forbidden Egypt;
  2. Wives: Solomon’s palace housed 700 wives, and he enjoyed a harem of 300 concubines. Most of his wives were foreign princesses, given to Solomon to seal a treaty with a lesser king. These wives were from pagan nations, and unfortunately, they did indeed turn Solomon’s heart away from God;
  3. Wealth: There has never been a king surrounded with so much wealth and opulence. He was the richest king on the face of the earth. Gold was so plentiful that it was viewed as a necessity, and silver became something so common that it was largely ignored.

Solomon may have gotten straight A’s in his excessive lifestyle, but he definitely flunked in spiritual life. He failed in what matters most, obedience and devotion to God.

It is true that Solomon built a magnificent Temple and a lavish palace. But he also constructed and promoted pagan shrines, encouraging idolatry throughout Israel. All of these building projects were on the backs of the citizens of his country… heavy taxes to pay for the opulence, and forced labor to construct these buildings, which was more like the slavery that they escaped from long ago in Egypt. Solomon did not have compassion for his people, his heart was not in the right place regarding how he governed the populace of Israel. Under Solomon, peace and prosperity paid a heavy price in the lives of his people.

Solomon obviously had a weak will regarding the women in his reign of power and prestige. The Lord even made two personal appearances to Solomon, warning him about the consequences of acquiring so many wives and sexual partners (1 Kings 11:9). Those two divine appearances were not meant to be pleasant experiences for Solomon. God was very angry with him, and told him he needed to turn back to the Lord. But Solomon merely shrugged it off and continued on his merry way. Even when face-to-face, “Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command.” (1 Kings 11:10). Once again, Solomon was weak when he should have been strong. As punishment for his disobedience, the kingdom of Israel was divided after Solomon’s death. The once proud nation divided into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. And both nations were usually reeling with a long string of wicked kings, idolatry, and vulnerability to conquering empires in the neighborhood.

Solomon started well but finished poorly. He was clever but foolish. He was filled with knowledge, but had no discernment. He could solve a perplexing riddle, but he didn’t understand the things of God. As a leader, he was a visionary, except he was surprisingly blind to the consequences of his actions. He was stubborn in the wrong things, and weak in the right things. He could write wise and witty proverbs for others, but he usually didn’t take his own advice.

Biblical history leans towards Solomon as the author of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible. If that’s true, then he wrote it toward the end of his life, and concluded with true words of wisdom. “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for that is everyone’s duty.” (Eccles. 12:13). We can only hope that Solomon finally learned from his tragic mistakes, and closed his life with devotion and obedience.