His name means: “Peaceable”
His work: The son of King David and Bathsheba, Solomon was the third king of Israel. His character: Known until this day as the wisest man who ever lived. His sorrow: Although he was an extremely intelligent man, later in his life he became disobedient to God and sacrificed everything on the altar of sexual excess. His inability to lead his own children led to the kingdom’s division and ultimate fall. His triumph: Solomon built the kingdom of Israel to its greatest level in material wealth and land. Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 2-5
A Look at the Man
It’s one of the most incredible moments in all of Scripture. The Lord of Israel, the Creator of the universe, makes an offer to a mortal man—Solomon, the son of David and the newly anointed king of Israel. Like the archetypal genie in the bottle, God asks Solomon to make a wish. But Solomon’s historic opportunity becomes his greatest tragedy.
This may be the saddest story in the Bible.
It’s the account of a man who literally had everything. The only thing more difficult to comprehend than his great mind, his enormous wealth, and his enormous power were the prospects of what he could have done with these things. Solomon had the incredible capability to change his world.
But in spite of doing many good things during his lifetime, he actually squandered this potential. Of course he built a name for himself. Go ahead and ask anyone to finish this sentence: “That guy over there has the wisdom of _________.”
What happened to Solomon? The reason for his pathetic failure is actually quite clear. He broke this commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4-5).
Solomon should have known better. In fact, he did know better. As his father, David, was dying, Solomon heard these words. “Observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
But somehow Solomon believed he could be the exception to the rule, the one man who could break God’s law without suffering the consequences. But God was not going to ignore all the idols and altars he had set up to please his foreign wives, accustomed as they were to worshiping various idols. Because of his infidelity, the kingdom of Israel split apart after his death, with Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, in the south and Israel and its capital, Samaria, in the north.
It was too late for Solomon to discover that a man before God’s throne is judged by what is in his heart. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2 KJV).
Instead of leaving a world-changing legacy, Solomon left us with a graphic lesson in eternal fruitlessness—with no excuses.
Reflect On: 1 Kings 8:56–61; 11:9–13 Praise God: For his constancy. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Offer Thanks: That God’s words are consistent with his character. Confess: Any wavering in your devotion to God. Ask God: To help you maintain a course that will daily bring you closer to him.
Today’s reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler.