It kills me to read 1Kings 11. Maybe, if he had had a lot less money, he could have afforded a lot less wives. Perhaps if he had a little less to possess he wouldn’t have become so bored with what he owned. Had he used up all the wood, and all the gold, and all the silver in building the temple to His God he wouldn’t have been able to undertake so many building projects for other gods. Or maybe it had less to do with his wealth and more to do with how he was wired.
All Solomon had asked God for was wisdom to rule well. God in His sovereign purposes determined to also give Solomon what he had not asked for, “both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1Kings 3:13). Did the God who knows the end from the beginning not know what His king would do with the abundance afforded him? Pretty sure He did. And yet, God still provided David’s son his own Eden like opulence. How come?
Certainly it reveals something about the sin nature and the flesh’s desire to venture where God says we shouldn’t go. The Lord had told His people not to marry foreign women, “for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (11:2). Yet, what had started with just the daughter of Egypt, grew to the king loving many “strange women” (AV). He bonded himself to them with an affection that out-weighed his love for the God who had given every good gift from above such that it turned his heart away from his First Love.
It also reveals something about God’s willingness to let men be men. Having removed the practical barrier of affordability, Solomon instead had opportunity to honor God with his integrity. God is not a tempter (James 1:13). And though He may orchestrate and allow circumstance which test the sincerity of a heart, “He will also provide the way of escape” from the lure of temptation (1Cor. 10:13). So it’s not like Solomon was destined to fail. But neither were his affections for members of the opposite sex cauterized by divine intervention. No, Solomon, blessed of God, was free to choose how to steward his blessings. He could act in faithfulness or he could venture toward failure.
Finally, when all is said and done, I can’t help but think that God so graced Solomon with riches and peace and wisdom ultimately for God’s own glory.
Had that come through Solomon’s wisdom translating into wise choices during His life, it would have been to God’s glory. Should it come through Solomon’s bad decisions and eventual despairing waywardness, that too would be for God’s glory. Though Solomon would eventually lose the kingdom, God would maintain a remnant in faithfulness to His promise. Though Solomon would know less victory and see everything as vanity, his life lessons and learnings would be preserved through the millennia in order to be illuminated by the Spirit to teach many the secrets of the Way.
I can get caught up in Solomon’s tragic downfall, or I can fixate on God’s glorious patience and perseverance towards fulfilling His promise.
And, I can be warned.
Guard your heart. Obey your God. And let now His abundant blessings become a source of unfaithful distraction.
And when the LORD Your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you–with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant–and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD Your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear.
(Deuteronomy 6:10-13a ESV)
O to be faithful amidst the fullness.
By His grace. For His glory.