I just completed a three—month study of the life of King Solomon of Israel. We called this series “The Wisest Fool” because that describes Solomon to a tee—he was incredibly wise but squandered his wisdom on foolish living. There are several lessons from his life that stand out for me. Here are just a few:
1. Wisdom is an infinitely valuable gift from God. As a young man, Solomon asked God for a “wise and discerning (listening) heart.” God was pleased with this request and granted him unsurpassed wisdom. How important to me is the pursuit of Godly wisdom? We don’t acquire wisdom innately; no one is born wise. We don’t acquire it by reading a lot of books and having a lot of knowledge. We don’t acquire wisdom just by getting older. We get it by asking God for a heart that listens and heeds His Word. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
2. It’s not what you have that matters, it’s what you do with what you have. Solomon had so much going for him. Besides wisdom, God granted him wealth and fame. He also had a Godly father who did everything he could to set him up to succeed. But Solomon demonstrates that being blessed by God in these ways will not keep us away from sin if our hearts turn away from God. Solomon’s wisdom, wealth and fame did not keep him holy, and neither will ours.
3. God graciously and relentlessly pursues us even when our hearts are divided. God showed up in a very personal way three times to Solomon. The first time he offered to grant any request. The second time was more ominous—God presented him with a choice: “If you walk before me faithfully, I’ll bless you, but if you turn away from me, there’ll be consequences for you.” The third time he presented Solomon with the consequences of his action. God raised up three adversaries against Solomon, but even in that there was an opportunity to come clean. I’m so glad I have a God who pursues me and even disciplines me when I am headed in the wrong direction!
4. Disobeying God’s clear commands sets us on a trajectory in which our hearts turn away from Him. Solomon started falling into sin far before he fell into disgrace. As a young man he made an alliance with the king of Egypt and married his daughter. No big deal, right? I mean, he didn’t really love her. It was just the politically expedient thing to do. But it was a big deal. Sin is always a big deal. Before long, Solomon made more and greater compromises until towards the end of his life it says “he loved many foreign women” and built worship centers for their gods! It’s a lesson for us that we need to tend to the little things in our lives. Sin almost always starts with a small compromise, a minor concession, a brief indulgence, but that can make a huge difference in your eventual destination. There’s no telling what we might do if our hearts turn away from God.
5. Solomon gets us ready for another King. Solomon ruled over Israel in what was really the apex of her existence. But as great as his kingdom was, it eventually crumbled. But Solomon prepares us for another King whose kingdom will last forever. Spurgeon wrote, “The kingdom of Israel under the sway of Solomon was a fair type of the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. The present state of the church may be compared to the reign of David: splendid with victories but disturbed with battles. But there are better days to come, days in which the kingdom shall be extended and become more manifest, and then the Lord Jesus Christ shall be even more conspicuously seen as the Solomon of the kingdom.”