Sunday, December 03, 2006

kings & prophets V: Solomon, the Wisest Fool

How does a man who had received such incomparable wisdom - from God no les! - fall away so completely in the end?

Solomon, the third king of Israel, penned three books in the Bible: Song of Songs as a young man in love; Proverbs at the height of his wisdom and prosperity; and Ecclesiastes as an old man despairing of life.

As is true for all failures, Solomon's final apostasy resulted from progressive and accumulated sins, not overnight and not due to one shortcoming factor in his life.

As the second son of David and Bathsheba (the first having been taken away by God as punishment for their adulterous affair), Solomon was the embodiment of the perfect demonstration of God's mercy and redemptive love when God gave him the name Jedidiah, which meant "loved by the Lord."

And as much as David as king and father suffered a number of failings, for Solomon to have sought wisdom to govern God's people when he was asked for his greatest desire shows that David had made an impression on the young man.

But Solomon's seemingly sincere beginnings and even admirable request for wisdom lack the passion of David who sought God's presence above all else.

God grants him his request and Solomon indeed does become the wisest man who had ever lived.

But as we had seen in the life of Saul, the first king of Israel, a good beginning does not guarantee a good ending. And as awe-inspiring as Solomon's wisdom was, wisdom apart from a working relationship with God is mere worldly philosophy which in the end will produce death and despair as demonstrated so poignantly in the book of Ecclesiastes.

And relationship with God was - to put it mildly - not Solomon's forte. In fact, it suffered even in earlier years as king when he married Pharaoh's daughter in order to ratify a peace treaty; taking foreign wives was something God had specifically forbidden a king to do.

In fact, Solomon does not take one wife, but 700, plus 300 concubines!

Self-indulgence was a way of life for this man who had begun so well.

He accumulated, we are told, thousands of horses, imported from Egypt - yet forbidden deed for a king. Egypt symbolized the world, and horses strength. Hence, God was ultimately commanding any kings He established to lead His people to never rely on strength of men or the world.

Solomon's accumulationg of vast quantities of gold sealed his final direct disobedience and in essence sealed his fate.

It is odd that Solomon who already had everything wanted those few things God had specifically forbade him to possess.

But that is the oldest trick in the book - a trick that ushered sin into the lives of first man and woman and into every mankind thereafter,

The devil has a way of magnifying the few things God commands us to stay away from. Instead of enjoying the "Garden" God has offered us, we are temmpted to look beyond the bountiful blessing and seek out that which will ultimately destroy us.

The oldest Enemy of God will glorify the things we don't need to the point we think we need them.

The man who exhorted "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, get understanding" (Prov 4:7), the wisest man that had ever walked this earth second only to Jesus Christ, became the greatest fool who in the end, turned away from God in his old age, writing such depressing words as "Meaningless! Meaningless! ...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." (Eccl 1:2)

J.I. Packer, in his phenomenal book entitled Knowing God, wrote:

"Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal..."

Wisdom is far more than mere accumulation of knowledge of vastness of all facets of life. It is the ability to choose what is right.

The Bible exhorts us to seek wisdom. But take caution as to the sort of foundation upon which you intend on building that wisdom, because if not built on a working relationship with Christ, it will crumble and in the end bring about more agony and despair than joy and fulfillment.

--from Nakwon EM Dec. 3rd Sunday Worship Service

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