Overreaching leads to failure

Fifteenth in the Solomon Series

Early in his reign, Solomon had asked: "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (1 Ki 3:9)

The Lord had replied,

"Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." (1 Ki 3:11-14)

Did the promises of the Lord fail? The Lord did promise to give Solomon a wise and discerning heart. What happened?

The promises of God never fail. God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Num 23:19)

God's promise of wisdom was in respect to judging Israel, and Solomon never lacked that ability. He states in Ecclesiastes 2:9, So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

He was also highly intelligent and had unusual knowledge of natural phenomena.

With respect to the promises of God (1 Ki 3:13, 14), Solomon gained immense riches and honor during his lifetime, which was not as long as his father's, since he strayed from walking in God's ways.

God did not promise that Solomon would never fall into deception or temptation. On the contrary, the Lord warned him, after he had completed the temple, his own palace and all he desired to do:

And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, [and] wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
[But] if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments [and] my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
And at this house, [which] is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?
And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.
1Ki 9:4-9

God always keeps his promises.

Following these verses, the Bible presents Solomon's many building projects, and that he levied taxes on the people and built a navy, married and entertained foreigners, was very rich, did much trading, gathered chariots and horsemen, horses; and then… loved many strange women.

What comes to mind in this sequence is that Solomon overreached.

A colloquial way of stating this is, "If the devil can't make you bad, he will get you busy." Then, of course, he can "make you bad." An overabundance of responsibilities can result in poor decisions.

Another insight is that even we, the beloved of the Lord, can be deceived. This is stressed in War On The Saints, a book written to expose how Satan took advantage of a revival in Wales in the early 20th century. This book is online. If we humbly acknowledge that we can be deceived, perhaps we can avoid it.

Some Christians advocate being "accountable" to other specific Christians. Perhaps if we are in a good church and have Christian friends, this is enough. Anything beyond may be overreaching.

At the start of his reign, we know that Solomon had good influences: Nathan (the prophet), Zadok, Benaiah, and Nathan's sons served him and were his friends. (1 Ki:4:5) But at the end of his life, did he still have these good influences? He did have the Torah, the first five books of our Bible, and he understood that he ought not to multiply wives.

In past generations, God permitted some practices in deference to man's hardness of heart and ignorance — and still does, if we would think deeply about our own lives. However, Solomon himself taught, [It is] not good to have respect of persons in judgment (Proverbs 24:23) [Also taught by Moses (Deuteronomy 1:17), Jehoshaphat (2 Ch 19:7), Paul (Rom 2:11), Peter (1 Pe 1:17), James (James 2:1)]

Solomon had turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4) There would be no respect of persons.

A Greater than Solomon...

Fourteenth in the Solomon Series

Psalm 72, "A Psalm for Solomon," was the last psalm written by David. It is a prophecy of Solomon's reign and a prayer for him. Its final line is: "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended."

David prophesies that Solomon will judge the people with righteousness (vs. 2); he shall save the children of the needy and break in pieces the oppressor (vs. 4); he shall have dominion from sea to sea… (vs. 8); all kings shall fall down before him and nations shall serve him (vs. 11); daily shall he be praised (vs. 15). All these verses prophesy about Jesus Christ, whom Solomon typified for a time.

Perhaps you will say, "I have no father, and no one prays for me." But remember, it's not an earthly father's prayers that carry the most weight, by God's design. Christ will intercede for you. Of himself, Christ stated, "… behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Mat 12:42, Luk 11:31)

Perhaps if you have no earthly parent who is involved in your life, it was God's way of urging you to take a more direct path to his throne, by your material need of Jesus.

Blessed [be] the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. (Psa 72:18)

It can be a wondrous thing to have only God as your Father.

Finding fellowship in a good church is also a way that God sets us in families, with fathers, mothers and children.

God answers prayer

Thirteenth in the Solomon Series

Before he died, David amassed the precious metals and stones, the iron and bronze and much of the wood that would be needed for building the temple, and he led the people in giving freewill offerings for the house of the Lord. He prayed: Grant to Solomon my son that with a whole heart he may keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision." (see full prayer - 1Ch 29:10-19)

We know that David's prayer was answered; that Solomon built God's house, and kept and performed the Lord's statutes, at first. However, "when he was old," (1 Ki 11:4) Solomon's wives...

turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of David his father.
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as [did] David his father.
Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that [is] before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
(1Ki 11:4-8)

Although Solomon continued to worship in the temple, his loyalties were divided. Some commentators say he did not worship with his wives, but accommodated their worship practices; others say he joined his wives in idolatrous worship.

His actions and divided heart brought God's judgment:

"Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.
Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.
However I will not tear away all the kingdom; but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."
And the LORD raised up an adversary against Solomon…
1 Ki 11:11-14a

Thankfully, as noted at the start, Solomon's father had prayed for him. At first, it seems the prayer was forgotten after a time, as we consider the shameful backsliding (perhaps not a strong enough term), and that a divided heart resulted in a divided kingdom.

Yet, Solomon did turn back to God's Word. We see this turning in Ec 7:29, Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Solomon's acknowledgement that God made man upright shows us that he believed Genesis, that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but later fell and thereafter pursued all sorts of devious paths to pleasure and enlightenment leading to gloom.

The context of Ec 7:29 shows that Solomon realized that his downfall had been brought about by his invention of marriages, as though that was allowable for a king. Yes, some sultans and kings of nations in that region had similar harems, but Israel was meant to model righteousness, not to imitate the opposite.

I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason [of things], and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness [and] madness:
And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart [is] snares and nets, [and] her hands [as] bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, [counting] one by one, to find out the account:
Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
(Ec 7:25-29)

Solomon understood he had been foolish; snared by loose women because he was sinful, but he could not exactly understand why he had not been enabled or able to avoid the fetters of willful abandon. After all, was he not the wisest man in the world? Nevertheless, he would acknowledge that one man in a thousand was worthy of his admiration — that not all men were sinful as he understood he was; but no woman could claim his praise.

Perhaps his disappointment in himself and extreme focus on his own sins prevented him from seeing any good in women, generally.

In discouragement, all seems lost. Pray!

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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