Please feel free to join us at Bev's as we recap this week's cover to cover. There's nothing more satisfying than spending time in the word.
I had originally planned to do a post about Proverbs 31. After all, there's nothing I love better than discussing the attributes of the ideal woman and comparing how I stack up. However, after I finished Saturday's reading, I couldn't get portions of it out of my mind.
Solomon was a king who had everything.
He received instruction on his kingship from the man after God's own heart (1 Kings 2:1-9).
God Himself appeared to him in a dream and offered him anything (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon proved his character when he asked only "that you give me a heart that understands, so that I can rule the people in the right way and will know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours" (1 Kings 3:9) God was so pleased with him (oh, what a glorious thought that God would be so pleased with us) that He gave him the things he did not ask for as well. (a long life, riches for himself or the death of his enemies. 1 Kings 3:11) The LORD further adds, "I will give you wisdom and understanding that is greater than anyone has had in the past or will have in the future. I will also give you what you did not ask for: riches and honor. During your life no other king will be as great as you. If you follow me and obey my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will also give you a long life." (1 Kings 3:12-14)
1 Kings goes on to reference Solomon's wisdom several times. (1Kings 3:28, 1 Kings 4:29-24). I would guess that portions of the book of Proverbs were written during this time in Solomon's life.
Solomon was also given the great honor of building the LORD'S temple. (1 Kings 5-7). He once again spoke of the promise of the LORD and the conditions that the people must meet. (1 Kings 8:25-26). He knew what the LORD expected of him.
The LORD appeared to Solomon a second time. (1 Kings 9:1-9) He acknowledged what Solomon had asked (can you imagine what it would be like to have the LORD come to you and say, "yes, Karen, I heard you. I will honor what you've asked for as long as you honor Me."?) and reminded him once again that "you and your children must follow me and obey the laws and commands I have given you. You must not serve or worship other gods." (1 Kings 9:6).
Years pass for Solomon. I can only guess that he grew bored. After all, he was the smartest, wealthiest man in the world. (1 Kings 10:23) He was denied nothing. And he loved many women. (I have to stop here for a moment. I sincerely doubt that he loved many women. At least not the storybook, forever after kind of love. Who falls in love over a thousand times? And as a side note, does anyone else hear the impressive clergyman from The Princess Bride saying "wuv, tru wuv will fowow you foweva"?)
Scripture goes on to say that, "As Solomon grew old, his wives caused him to follow other gods. He did not follow the LORD completely as his father David had done." (1 Kings 11:4) The LORD was angry with Solomon, because he had commanded Solomon not to follow other gods. But Solomon did not obey the LORD'S command. (1 Kings 11:9-10). My Expositors Bible Commentary says that "Solomon's sin was all the greater because of the special privileges he had enjoyed. God had singled Solomon out by appearing to him twice. This should have created in Solomon a lifelong love and devotion of the deepest kind. He (Solomon) had also been thoroughly instructed and trained by David in preparation for the high calling that was his. Solomon threw aside all these privileges when he followed after idols. He frittered away the continued joy and fellowship with God that could have been his for life. (p. 518) (Don't you just love a commentary that uses the word "fritter"?)
The man who extolled the virtues of wisdom and warned against following evil ("My child, if sinners try to lead you into sin, do not follow them" Prov. 1:10 comes to mind) now utters these words:
"Useless, Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless."
"I looked at everything done on earth and saw that it is all useless, like chasing the wind." Ecclesiastes 1:2,14
1 Kings 11 ends with Solomon's death. I can't help but feel saddened by the ending of this story. I feel cheated. Here was a man who had everything at his fingertips. All he wanted. Including the LORD'S favor. And he didn't value it. Didn't cherish it. Didn't see it for what it was. So he tossed it on the pile with all the other things that he declared "useless." And not only that, by his influence, his guidance, his lack of caring, he brought devastation and suffering to generations of his children.
Which brings me to the questions, "How do I value what the LORD has given me? Do I honor His commands? What am I passing on to the generations of my family?"
Trust the LORD with all your heart, and don't depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5