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What If... Solomon

Read 2 Chronicles 7:1-22

What if Solomon would have truly taken to heart what God said in 2 Chronicles 7:14? What if Solomon had heard the warnings and heeded them? What if Solomon had kept his humility instead of allowing the pleasing words of people like the Queen of Sheba distort his values? Solomon is widely considered, even by many in the secular world, to be the wisest man who ever lived. This is not merely coincidental, nor is it due to his years and years of studying at the finest universities in the Middle East. Solomon's incredible wisdom is attributed to a 'once in a lifetime' discussion with God where YHWH simply extended the offer to Solomon to pick whatever he desired. Many of us would dream of that situation because, selfishly, we think about the money, homes, jobs, etc that we would ask for because we believe that would improve our lives somehow. God gives Solomon this choice and the rookie king chooses wisdom over possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hated him, or even a long life for himself. This is overwhelmingly pleasing in the sight of God due to what Solomon had seen his father go through at the end of his life (and even during his 'prime' reigning days), and because of his choice, God rewards him with riches, possessions, and honor. The other task put before Solomon is the honor of building the very house of God, the temple. David, the 'man after God's own heart', is not allowed to build that building... God saves that for Solomon.

One thing to make sure we all read and understand is that God separates wisdom and knowledge in 2 Chronicles 1:11-12. This is important to note because the definition of wisdom oftentimes is 'applied knowledge' and applied wisdom is known as 'discernment'. As we will see, Solomon had apparently mastered the concept of knowledge, could apply it (wisdom), but failed in the department of discernment. What does this look like today? For us, it shows itself when we know something is wrong (knowledge), we consider the consequences of what would happen if we went ahead (wisdom), and then we take those two concepts, refuse to commit the act, and help others avoid making those mistakes (discernment).

So what happened to Solomon? He heard from God Himself to stay turned towards the Almighty so that he [Solomon] could stay in a forgiven state and be healed. Solomon had built the temple and enforced appropriate worship inside the building for years, but somehow he still falls victim to the enemy of ego. In 1 Kings 11:1-10, everything is changing because Solomon now has married 700 women to maintain political relationships rather than having a love for one woman as God intended. Also, Solomon has 300 concubines to participate in sexual behavior with outside the bonds of marriage which is a complete lack of respect for God's intentions. And even beyond that, Solomon openly begins worshipping the gods of his wives, some of whom promoted the slaughter of young children as sacrifices. This all began with a seemingly innocent quote from an admirer (the Queen of Sheba) - "Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard." This quote ends with the Queen acknowledging that these things come from a recognition of God and His power, but within a matter of months and years, Solomon believes himself to be the reason for this success and has abandoned the God who had delivered into his hands these amazing accomplishments. The deeply disturbing thing is that for generations after Solomon, the kings of Israel were not known for their commitment to the God who hears, forgives, and heals, but rather were known for their evil and wicked ways and for the depravity they ushered into the land. This all can be traced back to the comment made about their ancestor Solomon - "And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded." (1 Kings 11:9-10) Sadder still, Solomon is us.

For many of us, our desire to want can (at times) far surpass or desire to serve. In Solomon's case, he understood early on that his calling as the king was to serve the people of God and keep them as close to their Father as possible. Unfortunately, as he grew older, Solomon determined that his wanting for power, riches, political standing, etc was beyond his desire to serve. In that way, we have to look in the mirror and hopefully come to the conclusion that was reached at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes - "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Whether you believe that Solomon came back around and determined this at the end of his life or that he wrote this around the same time he wrote Proverbs and therefore died a miserable, unforgiven wretch, it does not change the impact it should have on your life. Solomon is acknowledging here in Ecclesiastes that the only life that matters is one dedicated to serving our true King.

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