After studying the life of David, we couldn’t have a greater contrast between his life as a man “after God’s own heart,” and what we find in his son Solomon.
This lesson will show you the solid foundation of Biblical instruction he had, how he started well, but progressively deteriorated into self-indulgent sins that destroyed not only his life but split his nation and condemned it to continual war and trouble throughout Old Testament history.
We’ll overview the books he wrote, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes along with the probable progress of his life as he wrote each one.
We will end with the challenge of what a true king should be like, the model of it in our Lord Jesus, and a challenge for how we should live to please Him.
Following is a PDF of the notes, links to the podcast and video, and below that a transcript of the lesson.
Solomon—lessons from a wasted life
Teacher: Yvon Prehn
Where we are
• We finished the study of David’s life. To review:
• David trusted God from his youth—killed a lion, bear, and Goliath.
• Anointed as king when he was very young, but endured much testing for 10-15 years before he became king.
• As king, united all of Israel—military and organizational success.
• Sinned, but repented sincerely, forgiven, and pressed ahead in serving God and his people.
• In his later years, he prepared for every part of the Temple and left a legacy of a godly life, many Psalms, and his ultimate description as “a man after God’s own heart.”
Solomon then becomes King
• Chosen by God and David, after some intrigue and an attempted coup by a brother, he’s made king.
• Here is David’s charge to him:
• “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ 1 Kings 2:2-4
• Solomon knew God’s requirements from the start and that obeying God’s law was to be the non-negotiable foundation of his life for his personal success and that of his nation.
His testimony of how he was raised, Prov. 4, LB
• I, too, was once a son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child, and the companion of my father.(King David) 4 He told me never to forget his words. “If you follow them,” he said, “you will have a long and happy life. 5 Learn to be wise,” he said, “and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point.”6 Cling to wisdom—she will protect you. Love her—she will guard you.
• 7 Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment. 8-9 If you exalt wisdom, she will exalt you. Hold her fast, and she will lead you to great honor; she will place a beautiful crown upon your head. 10 My son, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.
• 11 I would have you learn this great fact: that a life of doing right is the wisest life there is. 12 If you live that kind of life, you’ll not limp or stumble as you run. 13 Carry out my instructions; don’t forget them, for they will lead you to real living.
• 14 Don’t do as the wicked do. . . . . the good man walks along in the ever-brightening light of God’s favor; the dawn gives way to morning splendor, 19 while the evil man gropes and stumbles in the dark.
• 23 Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.
He started well
• He started with immense amounts of wealth given to him by his father for the construction of the temple.
• Then God appears to him and tells Solomon to ask for anything he wants.
• He asks for wisdom and God gives it to him, plus the promise of every material blessing.
• He builds the Temple, plus, palaces, fortresses, and other public works.
• He writes all or parts of 3 books in the Bible and Psalms 72 and 127—that parallel stages in his life—we will go over them briefly and then spend time on the last part of his life and what we learn from it.
The books he writes are Wisdom Literature
• Job is also part of this category and the cautions on the book of Job apply here as well.
• The most important being that these books (as with all Wisdom literature) are to be read as a WHOLE.
• Pulling verses of context is misleading and often ends in incorrect interpretation and especially application.
• Often the whole point of the book is not revealed until the end and that colors the overall message of it.
• For Job this is extremely important, as it is in Ecclesiastics.
• Following are some specific notes on the various books, with a suggested progression of when they were written in his life.
Song of Solomon, most likely written early in his life
• A picture of romance, love; a song; a drama.
• Sometimes taken as an analogy of the love of God for Israel or Christ for the church, but that can get a bit odd.
• “A more satisfying way to approach Solomon’s Song is to take it at face value and interpret it in the normal historical sense, understanding the frequent use of poetic imagery to depict reality.” John McArthur’s Study Bible
• In other words, as the story of a man in love. (though as SoS, 6:8 tells us, he already had “sixty queens and eighty concubines).
• Yet a picture of God’s approval and celebration of romantic love.
• The story told here makes his later excesses with women all the more tragic—idolatry aside, what kind of true love or relationship at all can you have with 1,000 women (700 wives, 300 concubines)?
• In Ecc. 7:28, he says: I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.
Next comes Proverbs
• Written later in Solomon’s life—most likely midlife, after he asked God for wisdom, when he was at the height of his reputation for wisdom.
• He didn’t write all of them, collected many, and others added to the book later.
• Much wise advice in them for us, HOWEVER, the most common problem when we read Proverbs today is that we must remember that Proverbs are NOT promises.
• They are wisdom statements that if you do certain things based on a desire to serve God, there is a more likely chance you will have a positive outcome.
• BUT there are NO GUARANTEES.
A frequent, misinterpretation of Proverbs example
• Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
• Remember it is a PROVERB, not a PROMISE, as we see….
• Kids from good families sometimes turn out badly.
• God does not interfere with free will.
• However, children will have a much better chance of turning out well if they are trained well when young—especially if you fill their lives with God’s Word, God can call it to mind later—read to them, get them age-appropriate Bibles and books.
• There is SO MUCH that is good in Proverbs and that is why we are reading it every other day—go back and review the lesson, video and podcast on it, links at Bible805.com.
Solomon’s life history continues
• Solomon becomes known for his wisdom, many in the world travel to hear him, and bring gifts to him.
• He begins building the Temple with his father’s gifts
• Progressively he needs more wealth, begins trade, conscripts labor, and begins to heavily tax the people.
God appears to him a second time—this time with a warning
• When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, 2 the Lord appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him:
• “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
• 4 “As for you if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David . . . . . But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them,7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.8 This temple will become a heap of rubble. 1 Kings 9:1-8
• IMPORTANT APPLICATION: we can build or do great things, but our hearts, and our lives, are the most important thing we can build for God.
His wealth and power increase
• King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought an audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.
• Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem….. 1 Kings 10:23-26
• And it wasn’t only horses he collected…..
• 1 Kings 11 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
• 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.
• 7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites.8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
The collection of horses and many wives were direct violations of God’s commands.
• Deut. 17: 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”
• 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
• What he was specifically told NOT to do, describes the remainder of his life.
• How could someone who had so much end so sadly?
• We will look back at this life for cautions and lessons.
• Solomon began well. . . . . “except that…..”
• Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. 1 Kings 3:1
• Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
1 Kings 3:3
Small deviations from God’s will
• He allowed the “little sins” of “except that”…..
• The expediency of marrying Pharoah’s daughter as a political alliance (instead of fighting as his father had done).
• Led to marrying more and more for political reasons and human desires.
• And his “except that” (violating God’s commands to not worship wherever they wanted, see Leviticus 17) led to him worshipping the gods of his wives.
• And these led to a life of more and more expediency and indulgence as recorded in Ecclesiastics
Book of Ecclesiastics records his life
• He was selfish in his gifts—all about him. Ecclesiastics a constant repeating of I, I, I, ….in the Living Translation
• I said to myself, “Look, I am better educated than any of the kings before me in Jerusalem. I have greater wisdom and knowledge.” Ecc. 1:16
• Ecc 2: I decided to try the road of drink, while still holding steadily to my course of seeking wisdom. Next I changed my course again and followed the path of folly, so that I could experience the only happiness most men have throughout their lives.
• 4-6 Then I tried to find fulfillment by inaugurating a great public works program: homes, vineyards, gardens, parks, and orchards for myself, and reservoirs to hold the water to irrigate my plantations.
• 7-8 Next I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born within my household. I also bred great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings before me. I collected silver and gold as taxes from many kings and provinces.
His list of self-indulgence continues
• In the cultural arts, I organized men’s and women’s choirs and orchestras. And then there were my many beautiful concubines.
• 9 So I became greater than any of the kings in Jerusalem before me, and with it all I remained clear-eyed, so that I could evaluate all these things. 10 Anything I wanted I took and did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work. This pleasure was, indeed, my only reward for all my labors.
• 11 But as I looked at everything I had tried, it was all so useless, a chasing of the wind, and there was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
• He tried it all, did it all “under the sun” and nothing satisfied when it was all for him.
• Instead of his life traveling towards “the full light of dawn” he moved to more and more darkness.
At the end of his life
• He realizes what he has done and end the book with this final advice—
• Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—. . . .
• Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil. Ecc. 12: 13,14
• It was too late for him—note though he gives advice—we don’t see any personal repentance here.
God appears to him a 3rd time for judgment
• 1 Kings 11:9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.
• 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”
We then read about the rebellions against him and his death
• Constant trouble and rebellion—
• Hadad the Edomite, Rezen son of Eliada, and ultimately Jeroboam—who will become the first king of Israel when the Kingdom divides after Solomon’s death.
• A tragic ending to what could have been an extraordinary life of worldwide witness.
• But he squandered it on himself and not only ruined his life but also destroyed his nation.
• The rest of the Old Testament will tell the stories of a divided kingdom, endless wars, and ultimate foreign captivity.
• But of course, God never gives up on his people throughout.
• What can we learn from Solomon’s life?
We need to remember that we didn’t earn or don’t deserve anything we’ve been given
• Earthly example: We don’t think much of people who inherit wealth and act like they earned it or are owed special privileges because of it.
• How foolish of us to believe what we have is because we deserve or earned it or are better than those who have little.
• WHATEVER we have— from life itself, where we live, our families, our talents, our everything is a gift.
• The only thing we can take credit for and what we are responsible for is HOW we use what we’ve been given.
• Let’s look at some applications of this.
Contrast with David
• When running, took care of his parents, and cared for his followers.
• Used his wealth used to build the Temple, wanted to build for God.
• Even in repenting of his sin, thought of what it could teach others:
• Ps. 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
• 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
• His overall life orientation (given the ups and downs) was that he was never centered on himself, but on what he could do for God and others—things Solomon seemed to never care about.
More of David’s attitude to his gifts
• Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.
• “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11–13
• “Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14
• One commentator states that in today’s ….David’s wealth would have been over $200 BILLION—and yet, he does not boast about it, nor is that what he is remembered for, but that he was a man after God’s own heart.
• He gave all he had to build God’s Temple and encouraged others to do that also.
Even more, than David, let’s look at the King of ultimate wealth and how He used it
• Phil. 2 tells us, “Christ Jesus:
• 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
Not only in the big way of dying on the cross but also
• After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down, and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Master’ and ‘Lord,’ and you do well to say it, for it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than his master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends him. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing. John 13:12-17
• No matter what our gifts or position, our priority should always be to serve.
One other, small scriptural detail in
• In John 20, after Jesus’ resurrection, He appears to the disciples, they were fishing and He calls them to come ashore and the passage continues, in v. 9
• “When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught. . . . . Come and have breakfast.” . . . . . Jesus. . ., took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
• Do you realize how extraordinary that is?
• The risen Lord of all creation, who conquered death and Satan, and secured the eternal redemption of the cosmos, takes time to cook and serve his doubting disciples’ breakfast on the beach.
We’ve looked at 4 kings, Saul, David, Solomon, and finally, our Lord Jesus
• The human kings all had their shortcomings—sadly, Saul and Solomon simply went from bad to worse and allowed their sins to consume them, and died miserably.
• David sinned, but repented and his life looked forward to a coming King, our Lord Jesus, the extraordinary example of how power is to be used—
• Jesus, our final and eternal King, gives us the example of power used in sacrificial service.
• We have a choice to make, which king we will follow….
We have a choice to make, which king we will follow….
• On the one hand, Solomon and Saul followed Satan who said, “I will ascend; I will be like God; I will rule over. My needs are what are most important, my this, my that, my, my, my…..
• David, looked ahead and modeled a life like Jesus—the true God and ruler of all—who emptied Himself and served; who humbled himself and gave his all to others.
• We may not have a kingdom, and we may never have the power of a king, but we can rule in our own hearts and lives, we can choose to serve others and in that serving, not in the stuff we accumulate or the power we possess, as Jesus promised, we will find real, lasting, eternal joy.