I have always wondered how a man as wise as Solomon, who was humble enough as a young king to ask God for wisdom to lead his people, could be so foolish as to allow his many wives to lead him into idolatry. If wisdom is the ability to discern the right path in making choices, then why, in the end, did Solomon make such foolish choices? Perhaps it was because, like any other human, even when he knew the right things to do, he could still choose to do the wrong things. Thus, no matter how wise someone may be, no matter what one may know, it is our choices that determine where we will go in life.
Moreover, it is not enough to make good choices, resulting in a certain level of success, and then do as we please. God calls us to live faithfully all of our days. Neither is it possible to live faithfully in one area of our lives while following after other gods in another. Solomon may have overseen the building of God’s Temple, but by sacrificing to other gods in the high places, his kingdom was subsequently divided, just as his own heart had become divided between God and the false gods of the surrounding nations. God wants all of our hearts, all of our lives, not just the bits and pieces we are willing to give over.
As we will see in the following chapters, Solomon’s reign is considered to be the pinnacle of Israel’s existence, a time of wealth, power, and unity that has never existed since. And the ultimate evidence of their blessing was the completion of the Temple, which signified God’s eternal presence with his people. But as is often the case with wealth and prosperity, people can quickly overlook God and forget that he is the giver of every blessing and the only one worthy of worship.
Solomon taught that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is fear in the sense of a reverence for God that motivates us to obey him and make him Lord of all our lives. It is only when we are willing to say “no” to self and “yes” to God that we are given the understanding we need to make good and wise decisions. Asah shema. First we do, then we know. As we have learned in Jeremiah 6:16, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (NLT). Only by traveling down the path that God has laid out for us, as it is taught in his word, will we find the rest we seek.
In my own life, as I have learned to persevere in obedience, whether I understood why I should obey or not, I have come to know God and his ways far better than if I had stayed stuck at a fork in the path or tried to bushwhack my own way through the wilderness. After leaving my job and returning to my hometown of Westfield two years ago, I had no idea what kind of job I should look for that would fulfill God’s calling on my life. All I could do was use the wisdom I had gained throughout my life to put myself in the best circumstances as possible. I joined a small group, applied for jobs that I was qualified for, asked people for their advice and help, and got plugged back in at WRCC. I did not understand my circumstances, but God saw my heart and my perseverance, and two years later I’m living a full life serving and in fellowship with others, loving my job, and gaining more experience in the gifts I am called to use. Now I understand all that I need to know; God will take care of me as I walk faithfully with him.
Solomon’s reign, so full of peace and blessing and crowned by God’s presence in the Temple, points us forward in the Story to the day Jesus will one day rule the New Heavens and Earth. In that day, there will be “no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22 NLT). And in that day, there will be no danger that the kingdom will be divided, invaded, or plundered. The treasure of far more worth than all of Solomon’s gold and luxuries will be the eternal presence of Immanuel, God with us. Now that’s a happy ending (or new beginning) I can look forward to.
Your sister in Christ,