Refining Truth is about to begin a multi-part series based on the Book of Ecclesiastes. To begin with we thought it best to give some background on the author of the Book, King Solomon. Money, power, wealth, intellect are all surrounding this king. So are sex, intrigue, scandal and murder!
Often times in the Bible it is unclear or we are unsure of who exactly wrote the book or chapter. The Book of Hebrews is a good example and multiple chapters of Psalms are another. The Book of Ecclesiastes is simple to figure out. It is Solomon. We know this because the very first verse in the very first chapter states it clearly.
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)
The same often goes for the title of a book in the Bible. Names of people and places in scripture mean something. Names give insight as to the condition and purpose of the named. The Book of Ecclesiastes is subtitled, “The Preacher” which so happens to be the meaning of Ecclesiastes. This makes this particular book very unique in that we know who wrote it and what the title means.
And while we’re on the subject of what names and words mean, Solomon is a derivative of the Hebrew word “Shalom” meaning peace and completeness. Preacher had somewhat of a different connotation in the Old Testament than it does now. A Preacher was someone who addressed an assembly of people usually in an open forum speaking on matters of the human condition and affairs. It does not necessarily mean “preaching the word”. But what matters more to the human condition than God’s word, right?
So what qualified Solomon to be King and to preach and teach the people?
Solomon and Wisdom
“So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” (1 Kings 10:23-24)
In short Solomon was the smartest and richest man on the planet. He spoke of God and Kingdom as you would expect, but his knowledge was more expansive than that and of any other man. Solomon spoke of all things to all people.
“And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.” (1 Kings 4:32-34)
The world duly rewarded and honored Solomon for this God given ability.
Vessels of Gold
“And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year. And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.” 1 Kings 10: 25-27
Silver was so common that it was “as stones” in Jerusalem. Even the drinking vessels were of gold for, “none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.”
Solomon had a navy, army, chariots and horses, shields and armament of gold, silver, jewels, land, livestock, people, wisdom, power and control. He truly was the richest, wisest and most affluent man on earth. How did all of this happen?
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, 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.
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. 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.
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 the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” 1 Kings 3:5-14
Solomon was to be king. He was to take the position held by his father David. Solomon was smart for two reasons. He recognized that this position was too big for him to handle and he knew exactly who to turn to for the answer. This is a lesson for all of us to learn with any situation. Identify the problem, identify that we cannot solve it and then give it to the Lord in faith and trust. If God can solve a massive problem like Solomon’s then he certainly can handle any situation we may offer up to Him.
But probably the most important attribute that Solomon had was humility. It is a humble person who recognizes short comings and sees the need for help. It is a smart and humble person that immediately goes to God with the situation.
What Solomon prayed for was not to benefit him, but was to benefit the people. The epitome of sin and the attribute of a sinner is selfishness. Solomon was assuming the most powerful position on earth. He was praying to God Almighty. Anything could avail itself to him. But instead he went to God for the benefit of the people. Solomon epitomized the teaching of Jesus Christ when he instructed the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
God duly rewarded Solomon for his earnest love and affection for the people and his love and faith in Him.
It was Solomon’s affections or rather his burning lusts which lead to his eventual demise. The devil knew his weakness and played on it. Solomon had “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines”. (1 Kings 11:3). But that alone wasn’t the problem. These were “strange” women or women from foreign lands that God forbad entry. They were Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites of which God said, “Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). And they did.
“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” 1 Kings 11:4-8
“Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians” was the goddess of fertility and is where we get the word, ”Easter” from. (More on that in a future article).
“Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” and “Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon” is the same thing. “Molech” which means “king” was a god to which the people sacrificed their children to. An oven created in a bull like figure of Molech was created where parents would offer up their children to be burned to death.
It wasn’t so much the women themselves that was the downfall of Solomon. It was that these women were not women of God. The devil took full advantage of Solomon’s weakness of passion and used that as his vehicle to cause Solomon to fall.
When the devil tempted Jesus he offered Jesus the world and all of its riches and power. Jesus turned it down but Solomon already had these things given to him by God. (You may recall the devil told Jesus that God had given him (the devil) the ability to give these things).
Since riches and power was off the table, the next thing the devil turned to with both was love. With Jesus it was the love of the people towards him that was taken away. With Solomon it was the love of people, the wrong people that was given to him.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. (1 peter 5:8)
The devil is always looking for the weak spot in all of us and will afford that weakness every opportunity in the world.
Solomon’s wisdom, power and wealth were a gift from God. But the lust within and the free and easy access to satisfy that lust destroyed him. Selah.
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