The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.
The book of Proverbs contains some of the over 3,000 sayings of Solomon, who is known as the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 4:30). Unfortunately, Solomon didn’t always heed his own advice and found his life, family, and testimony shipwrecked in the end. “But how,” you ask? By trusting in political expedience rather than in the Word of God. Solomon thought he could secure the kingdom God had given to him by using human, man-centered, sinful means. He married pagan wives in the hope of forging treaties and trade alliances with Israel’s natural enemies. And the end result was watching Solomon’s love of his Lord slowly slip away as he gave into the pagan demands of his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).
Yes, you read that right. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. And just so we’ll be on the same page, a concubine is the same thing as a wife, just not quite as special. A concubine can be defined as: Wife, Second Class. So Solomon had over 1,000 women in his life continually demanding his time and attention. And, as their husband, it was his job to make them happy. Or, at least to try to make them happy.
So how would Solomon, or you or me for that matter, make 1,000 women happy? Simple. You give them what they want.
Now think practically for a moment. If Solomon spent just one evening with each of his wives and concubines, it would take him almost three years to have dinner with them all. And that’s assuming he didn’t have one or two he liked more than the others that he would book for a longer engagement. Plus, the jealousy and infighting among these women for Solomon’s attention and favors must have been fierce, to say the least.
So Solomon foolishly gave into their constant nagging to let them do what they wanted to do, including serving and worshiping the foreign gods they brought with them from home. And in doing so, Solomon let down his guard, forsook his role as the spiritual leader of his home, and let the enemy of God breach the walls of the sanctity of his life. He gave up on the most important duty entrusted to a man: to lead his family in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). “If you want to worship Baal, fine. Just don’t bother me about it. Geez, give me a break. But I had a really nice time with you tonight and I’ll see you again in a couple of years.”
I know what you’re thinking: “How could a man who is supposed to be so wise do something so stupid?” Great question. I’ve often thought the same myself. But I’ve also found myself making the same mistakes Solomon did. Has that ever happened to you?
Think about it, Solomon willingly forgot about the Lord’s warning to each of us regarding light and darkness and being unequally yoked. He confidently ignored the warning that says, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33). The bad company was the foreign gods Solomon allowed, not only into his kingdom, but also into his very house. And the good character was Solomon himself. He allowed himself to be corrupted by the evil influences in his life.
And there’s a lesson here for each of us.
Starting Strong, Finishing Weak
But Solomon didn’t start out that way. Somehow this incredibly wise man went off the rails, got sidetracked and bamboozled, and didn’t listen to his own advice. Like many of us he started out strong and committed, with unlimited potential and a bright future, and ended up as the classic example of someone getting everything they could ever want and still not be happy.
But it didn’t begin that way with Solomon. And it usually doesn’t begin that way with us.
When Solomon was given the kingdom by his father David, he immediately recognized how inadequate and how unprepared he was for the job. So what did he do? He asked the Lord for wisdom.
“Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9).
Solomon asked for wisdom and the Lord graciously granted his request and gave him not only more wisdom than anyone has ever had from that time until today, but He also gave him what he didn’t ask for: riches, honor and a long life (1 Kings 3:11-14). All Solomon had to do was live according to God’s wisdom and not by the deceptive human philosophies and carnal teachings of his day (Col. 2:8). And Solomon, like most of us, started out strong and then crashed and burned in a spectacular fashion.
Did you ever wonder why?
Probably because, like us, Solomon learned to trust his own instincts and intuition about life and not rely on the “still small voice” of God speaking wisdom into his heart (1 Kings 19:12). Maybe Solomon felt, after a string of earthly successes, He didn’t need to rely on God as much now as a man as he did when he viewed himself as a boy. Or maybe Solomon craved the approval of his peers more than the approval of His God. Who knows? But whatever internal voice led Solomon to his great fall is the same voice we are listening to today. And be warned, we do this to our own great peril and regret.
Our Book of Practical Wisdom
The Book of Proverbs, especially the first 10 chapters, deal almost exclusively with how to acquire wisdom and why wisdom is so important for each of us. Over the next 40 days we will look deeply into God’s Book of Wisdom to glean all He has to say to us.
And my prayer, for each of us, is to heed and follow the wisdom of God and not rely on our fallen, self-centered, narcissistic, feel-good understanding of the things of God we know nothing about.
Buckle up! It looks like we’re in for quite a ride.