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“That we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4)

First Kings, Chapters One through Eleven

Sophomore Solomon

As I am writing this, our nation is in the midst of that down and dirty, mud slinging, hand wringing, finger pointing, misrepresenting debacle known as our election process. Oh, if only it was more simple, we say. If only we could vote for someone rather than against an individual, as we so often find ourselves doing. If only we could have a Solomon–a wise leader, right with God, in charge of our government!

Yet what about Solomon? Were his decisions always wise or did he play the part of the sophomore (wise fool), as we so often do?

A strong leader for Israel was needed. It was a critical juncture in their political, if not spiritual, life. David had ruled as a powerful king–subduing enemies, establishing justice, and enlarging borders. In short, the groundwork had been laid for a truly great nation. However, David seemed a bit reluctant to name his successor, which would lead to a power struggle among the royal heirs. Surely the rebellions of Absalom and his brother Adonijah were still fresh in the memories of the subjects.

Finally, Bathsheba went to her aged husband and reminded him of the promise he had made concerning their son Solomon, that he would sit on the throne after his father. When David realized his mistake, he had Solomon anointed as king of Israel; then David–in view of his death–charged Solomon with instructions for a successful reign.

Prayer For Wisdom

Solomon was now king. What should he do? His administration needed work, to say the least. Both of his military commanders were dead. Abiathar the priest had to be exiled for helping Solomon’s brother Adonijah in a coup attempt. A later attempt to usurp the throne resulted in Solomon having his brother executed. We can be sure the neighboring nations were watching closely to see just what sort of mettle this ‘son of David’ was made of.

While we may not have ever found ourselves in as tight a spot as Solomon did, we still have our troubles. And since they are our troubles, they can be quite serious to us. Where do we go for help? Solomon had been given wonderful advice from his father David: “Be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn…” (1 Kgs. 2:2-3)

Then the Lord came to Solomon in a dream and posed this question to him: “Ask! What shall I give you?” The thoughts, desires, and wishes that one would expect to come to the mind of a young man given such a grand opportunity didn’t materialize. Instead we see into the heart of this servant of God through his response: “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 Kgs. 3:7-9)

What a choice! Good for Solomon. The Lord was pleased and so are we. But how often do we forget to make this choice ourselves? When decisions and problems arise, it is so easy to simply roll up the sleeves and dive right into the work of solving the matter, and thus

we often forget to seek the Lord’s counsel. Solomon sought the Lord’s blessing of understanding because he already understood the importance of his work. He was to lead the people of God. That needed to be done in a God-pleasing manner.

Are our tasks any less important? If you have a spouse, you have the obligation to love, cherish, and care for that individual, body and soul. If you have children, souls have been placed into your care–precious souls that are the property of our heavenly Father. You must lead them to their Shepherd through His Word. Since you are in this world, you have an obligation to all others around you. You are to be a witness of the things you have seen and heard in God’s holy Word. These matters should not be taken lightly. Seek the understanding of the Lord to assure that you are making God-pleasing decision in all matters.

God gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart. We read that God told Solomon that in wisdom no one could compare to him, not the men of the East, nor any of the wise of Egypt, none who came before, nor any who would come after. Solomon used this wisdom for the good of God’s people, and his fame and wealth were astounding.

Giving In To Foolishness

Yet Solomon still was to play the part of a sophomore (wise fool) when it came to his relationship with women. How could it be that the man–who ruled his people so wisely and contracted treaties and economic agreements that amassed great wealth for his nation–could have trouble with women?

This appears to have been a part of Solomon’s life that he had been unwilling to surrender to his Lord. While the king had all good intentions at heart when it came to the people of God, his own soul’s safety seemed low on his list of concerns. Solomon loved many foreign women–the daughter of Pharaoh as well as women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. All of these were nations of whom God had said: “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. For surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Yet Solomon “clung to these in love.” The result: Solomon went after the gods Ashtoreth and Milcom, Chemosh and Molech. He built high places and temples for these gods and for the gods of all of his foreign wives. Foolishness! The scriptures tell us that the Lord had appeared to Solomon twice, ” . . . and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods.” How could he not have listened to the Lord?

Think back to your last sin–big or small, it doesn’t matter. Do the scriptures address the issue of your sin? The Word of our Lord is clear; we sin in thought, word, and deed. Often we gossip and defame our neighbors, hate and seek revenge. Often we fail to keep our promises and make promises we never intend to keep. Often we slight our friends and family and despise our God and His Word. Who of us can not find a passage in the scriptures where God forbids these things? Thanks be to the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who has covered us with a robe of His righteousness!

Will our next president have the wisdom of Solomon? The chances are, not likely. Can we obtain the wisdom that Solomon enjoyed? May the Holy Spirit cause us to follow Solomon’s example in seeking out the Lord’s wisdom and understanding rather than falling into earthly foolishness.

As our Lord directs us through the pen of his servant Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Prov. 3:5-8).

–Teacher David Bernthal