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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WALKING WITHOUT STUMBLING Part 3 of 4: – The WISDOM and FOLLY of SOLOMON


~ By James Fire

We have examined the lives of Samsonl  a Judge of Israel and Saul the first king of Israel; now we will turn our attention to the third person in this examination on how to walk without stumbling: Solomon, the third king of Israel (David his father, of course, being the second and God’s destined and approved man for the throne). 

Hopefully, prayerfully we will learn by these examples of failure on how NOT to walk and thereby avoid the same ‘stumblings’ as these men. The last Person we will look at in this four-part series is our Savior – the LORD Jesus Christ, the only legitimate example of spiritual perfection that we, by the Spirit of grace, are enabled to follow.



King David, God’s choice for the leader of His people, a true shepherd of His flock was thirty years old when he began his reign and he ruled the nation for forty years (1 SAM 5:4). He endured many trials from his enemies, some undeserved rebuffs and rebukes from family, hardships and distresses by Saul most especially – not to mention the many wars, and a most profoundly devastating compromise with Bathsheba that left its indelible marks on his family.

Yet through all of those ‘trials and tribulations’ the LORD was not only faithful but developed David’s character and integrity (1 SAM 5:10). Trials have a way of doing that. They delve deeply with their scrutinizing fires and seek to purge impurities which cause us to be spiritually weak and inept; they refine us to the point where, by God’s grace, we leave that place tempered triumphantly and able to work great exploits for God (ISAIAH 6:6-8; 48:10-11).

Yet as we look at the life of Solomon, what distresses, trials and hardships did he endure? It looks as though he received the kingdom of Israel on the proverbial silver platter (actually, it would have to be a gold platter since Israel was so prosperous at the time of Solomon’s rule that the people despised silver (1 KINGS 10:27). Compared to David, Solomon had a veritable life of ease – something we greatly desire here in America; but are American Christians spiritually healthy in such an environment?

A life of prosperity and ease for the saint of God can not only be non-conducive for our spiritual growth, but a one-way avenue that leads to the street of sloth, sickliness and seduction. Point in case, furniture makers will not take wood from a tree that grows amid the forest. They prefer the trees that grow near the edge of the forest. The reason being, they are the ones that must weather all the storms, the elements and endure stresses, rather than the ones more sheltered deeper in the forest.

Trials toughen us up; they give us a thick skin spiritually. They make us resilient against the ploys of the enemy. And when we consider the great beginning of this king of Israel, we discover later those things that caused him to seriously stumble in his walk before the LORD and was spiritually weakened because of them.

From CROSSWALK ministries we have these insights:

Solomon – one of Israel’s kings, whose life is depicted in the Bible’s Old Testament – is known as the wisest man who ever lived, apart from Jesus Christ. Yet despite his incredible God-given wisdom, Solomon still made many foolish decisions. Why? Each time, Solomon turned his attention away from God and toward the world’s temptations, such as privilege, power, riches, sex, and the accolades of others. As he did, he fell into sin that led him into destructive situations that ruined his life.

Solomon’s life shows that no one is wise enough to outsmart sin. No matter how smart you are or how much you love God, sin can seduce you if you don’t intentionally guard yourself against it and pursue more of God’s wisdom every day.”

This article has a spiritual check list of 11 points on how to avoid stumbling in our walk, that you can read in the link above. Here they are:

1) Admit just how dupable you really are.
2) Pray for discernment.
3) Evaluate and adjust your life if God’s commands seem out of touch to you.
4) Choose God’s glory over your own glory.
5) Don’t ignore God’s warnings about sin.
6) Choose repentance over sin management.
7) Pay attention to what faithful friends have to say when your behavior troubles them.
8) Overcome materialism.
9) Overcome lust.
10) Guard your heart against idolatry.
11) Welcome God’s discipline.

Yet this young man started off well, just as Saul had (but not Samson from what we read of the record): when the LORD asked him in a dream to make any request of Him that he could think of, this newly anointed king said:

1 KINGS 3:6-9
6. . . Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 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?

And that request pleased the LORD (vs. 10) and due to the nature of our generous LORD, He decided that He would grant him all the other things that any king would typically ask for:
Long life, riches, taking the life of [his] enemies (vs. 11) as well as honor (vs. 13).
This speaks to what we learn in:

MATT 6:33
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
.

And what wisdom Solomon possessed! Most of us are aware of the incredible test of discernment he exercised when two mothers claimed a baby as their own. There was nothing, no evidence forthcoming that would lead a judge to the rightful mother. But the wisdom of God instructed the king what to do:

He ordered that a sword be brought to the courtroom. Then he ordered, “Cut the child in half, and give one part to each woman!”

The woman who had filed suit couldn't bear to see her child killed. She then immediately withdrew the suit, asking the king to judge in favor of the other woman, but spare the baby's life.

Immediately King Solomon stopped the proceedings, rescued the child, and ordered, “Give the baby to the first woman — she is his mother!”

And more wisdom in the building of the Temple, an expansion of what God revealed to Moses in the construction of the Tabernacle of Meeting:  

Solomon built many houses, palaces, irrigation projects, gardens, parks and public works, yet the most famous of all his achievements was the Temple. For nearly 400 years Solomon's Temple stood as the focal point for worship of the LORD.

The structure was about 90 by 30 feet, and three stories high — and it was magnificent! King David accumulated the vast amounts of building materials but was denied by God to build it. This was for Solomon to accomplish; he raised up further imports of lumber and quarried stone for this monumental work and in fact, the amount was so great that, to transport the materials, Solomon conscripted a labor force of nearly 200,000 of his own people, not counting the workers of the foreign exporters.

The temple's interior walls were dressed in carvings of angels and nature scenes and were plated with gold throughout — about 23 tons of it. Even with a huge staff of both paid and conscripted labor, its construction had taken seven years.

For the temple's dedication, Solomon hosted a festival, inviting the entire nation. A great parade accompanied the ushering of the Ark of the Covenant from its tent to its new home in the temple's inner sanctuary, the Holy Place.

As the Ark was positioned in its place, the LORD showed his approval; the glory of the LORD, in the form of a cloud, at once dark and shining brightly, filled the temple. It was so intense the priests had to abandon their rituals and go outside!

Solomon preached sermons and prayed prayers, asking the LORD to be present in the temple, to use the temple to draw his people to faithfulness, and to bless all who worship him there.

When all was done, the LORD spoke to Solomon, promising that if his people were faithful, he would bless them, but if they turned to sin, he would destroy them. Even so, if they repented of their sin, he would bless them again, rescuing them from the troubles that resulted from their sin (1 KINGS 5–9; 2 CHRON 2–7).
2 CHRON 7:14 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

The Queen of Sheba had long heard of the well-nigh legendary reputation of this king of Israel and decided she would go for herself to witness this man and see if he measured up. When she had seen all of his kingdom and heard his words, she confessed, “The half of it wasn’t even told to me!” (See 1 KINGS 10:1-13; 2 CHRON 9:1-12).

The above commentary taken from  this site in King Solomon’s Biography. 
As something supplemental to this article, consider the following chart of the Kings of Israel.

The LORD, in anticipation of His people entering Canaan land, laid down some ‘ground rules’ for those who would become kings over the land, long before it came into their minds to reject the LORD Himself as their King in favor or a human king (as we saw in the previous article on Saul):

DEUT 17:14-20
14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; 15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. 17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold
.

18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel
.

Just as Samson, as a Nazarite had restrictions described in the word of the LORD and other things that were strictly forbidden, so too as the first king of Israel did Saul. And Solomon no less as the third king of God’s people as you can readily see from the above Scripture.

He was not to multiply horses to himself, nor was he to multiply wives unto himself (or concubines for that matter), nor was he to greatly multiply silver and gold to himself. He was also not to cause the people to return to Egypt.

Let’s have a look at Solomon’s life and see how he did with these things, but before we do, we must consider why these restrictions were made by the LORD. 

In each case, be it wives, horses and money – these things were sources of might, power and longevity. Horses for might, wealth for power and wives for longevity in his family line as well as for the perpetuation of his kingdom by marriage into foreign nations, thereby ensuring alliances.

In each case, it should be the LORD that we look to for our might and power and longevity. By multiplying these things, it’s far too easy to let our relationship with the LORD slip and resort to these far, far lesser things for our solutions (2 CHRON 16:1-9).

See ASA’S FOLLY by John Piper (note to readers: this author does not necessarily agree with everything as taught and asserted by John Piper).
When we become self-sufficient and independent, that is a deadly condition where the life of a believer is concerned:

JOHN 15:4-5
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing
.

If we resort to self-sufficient independence from God we will be sowing to the flesh, and we will reap corruption:

GAL 6:7-8
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting
.

The multiplying of horses – these numbers were extraordinary for a King of Israel: forty thousand and twelve thousand horsemen (1 KINGS 4:26). Had this been any other nation, whose dependence for protection would rest on a considerable military, there couldn’t be any fault laid upon them. Yet this is the nation of Israel, whose God is the LORD, Who has proven Himself in defending His people, even with fewer and inferior numbers (1 SAM 14:6; JUDGES 7:1-7).

Numerous wives and concubines – 1 KINGS 11:1-12; this was a major downfall for Solomon. It started out with a single infraction, marrying a daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt. 

This was a common practice among monarchs that carried well into the 16th and 17th centuries among various noble houses. To ensure peace between two nations (who often were at war with each other) and reinforce treaties, they would marry members of the other nations royalty. A serious infraction of treaty by one nation could mean the execution of that nation’s member of the royal house!

Yet one thing led to another; when we make allowances for something God has forbidden us, our hearts can become numb and even hardened to the point where we make further concessions and become guilty of more and greater sin against the LORD, but without conscience (HEB 3:12-14)!

Soon, Solomon had foreign wives from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Zidon and others – in direct violation of the command of the LORD (1 KINGS 11:2). All told, he had a thousand wives and concubines (vs. 3)!

This led Solomon – and subsequently, the nation, into idolatry (vs. 4-5).
The LORD pointedly made His displeasure known to Solomon:

1 KINGS 11:9-13
9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. 11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon,
Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen
.

The LORD even told Solomon that he would take the kingdom from his son, Rehoboam and give it to his servant (Jeroboam, who himself was told this by the prophet Ahijah; 1 KINGS 11:29-39), and despite this rebuke, Solomon continued on this path. Regardless of the wisdom that the LORD gave him, he pressed onward into iniquity – because possessing wisdom and applying wisdom are two very different things! 

He went so far as to follow Saul’s example, when once this first king of Israel realized that David would replace him, tried to kill him; so likewise did Solomon attempt to take the life of Jeroboam (vs. 40)!

The remainder of chapter 11 details the seeds of disaster that would quickly come to fruition in the life of Solomon and the course of the nation.
If that were not enough, then there was the incredible wealth that Solomon amassed as described in 

2 CHRON 9:13-14
13 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold; 14 Beside that which chapmen and merchants brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon
.

Is it a coincidence that the weight of gold totaled this specific amount? Six hundred and sixty-six (666) talents. Of course, we are familiar with this number – REV 13:18, where without this mark of the Beast, no commerce will be conducted in selling or buying.
The glorification of man, through the exaltation of Satan is what that’s all about; it is the number or the name of the Beast. 

Solomon, having rejected the law and admonition of the LORD had positioned himself as an enemy, exhibiting a deplorable ‘anti-Christ’ stance. 

By the way, this exorbitant wealth came into Solomon’s coffers by oppressive taxation of the people of the nation! This was one of the complaints that the people brought to Solomon’s son when he came into leadership as king: “lighten the heavy load that your father laid upon us!”

2 CHRON 9:15-19
15 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of beaten gold went to one target. 16 And three hundred shields made he of beaten gold: three hundred shekels of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.
17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: 19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom.


2 CHRON 9:20-24
20 And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: none were of silver; it was not anything accounted of in the days of Solomon.
21 For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
22 And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. 23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart. 24 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

Note here the incredible grace of God; even while Solomon engaged in all these prohibitions, and further trespasses that the LORD knew he would commit, and yet the wisdom that He gave him remained.

2 CHRON 9:25-28
25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. 26 And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. 27 And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance. 28 And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all lands.

For all the amassing of wealth and power, was Solomon satisfied with his life and his accomplishments? Did he find contentment, fulfillment and peace?
What was the final word from Solomon on these things, what did he come to learn about his life’s ambitions and life in general?

Consider reading the book of ECCLESIASTES:

ECCL 1:1-2, 14
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit
.

And what did Solomon come to as the conclusion of the matter?

ECCL 12:13-14
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil
.



Had Solomon remembered the wisdom that the LORD imparted to him in his younger years, perhaps his life would have ended up differently. Such declarations inspired by the Spirit of God as these:

PROVERBS 1:7-16, 20-25
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. 10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood
.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

And these:


PROVERBS 8:1-15
Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? 2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. 3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. 4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. 5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. 7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. 9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. 10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. 11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. 12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. 13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice
.

For more of this, watch the following video by a pastor Greg Surratt of Seacoast Church (note to readers: We at TTUF do not necessarily endorse everything that Seacoast Church teaches and, or supports).

A WISE OLD FOOL – What We Can Learn From Solomon




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