Posted by: pollyw | May 15, 2010

A Word to the Wise

Wow, it feels good to be back.  My blog has had to take a backseat to my life lately, as a stomach virus tore through our family a few weeks ago.  Personally, it sent me reeling as I watched it go from one to the other of us, even getting the tiniest member of our family.  Our last little one to get it had it the longest, and for a while it looked like  we would be taking her to the ER for rehydration.  We didn’t have to put her through that trauma, thankfully, and now we are getting back in the groove of a normal routine.  As normal as you can get with the end of the school year activities, that is.  Nothing makes you appreciate your health like getting really sick, that’s for sure.

Okay, on with the post.  So, when you think of the description of wise, what Bible name comes to mind?  For me, that’s easy, it’s Solomon.  One of David’s sons who actually asked God for wisdom and got it.  In abundance, as a matter of fact.  So much that his house became a hot spot on the tourist route…everyone wanted to see this man who had wisdom beyond compare.  Solomon seemed to have it all.  He must have lived happily ever after, right?  Well, that’s the part of the story that has always bothered me. 

Back in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God knows that one day Israel will ask for a king, and He even gives them a warning and directions to follow when that happens.  To sum up that passage, the new king is not to acquire many horses, especially not from Egypt, not acquire many wives so that his heart won’t go astray, and not acquire large amounts of silver and gold for himself.  To help him remember these rules, he is to write a copy of these instructions for himself on a scroll, in front of the priests (always good to have proofreaders near by) and keep that list with him so he can read from it all the days of his life.

Well, I guess Solomon must have thought that this was a to-do list, not a to-not-do list because he managed to do everything he could and more to break these rules.  Take a look at the following descriptions of his time as a king and maybe we can gather some clues as to where he went wrong.  (Scripture courtesy of Biblegateway.com)

From 1 Kings chapter 10:

26 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. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue —the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. 29 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels  of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty…

Accumulating lots of horses… check…especially some from Egypt…check.

From 1 Kings chapter 11:

1 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 Molech, 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 Molech 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.

Marrying many women…check…especially foreign women who followed other gods…check, check.

Last on the list, from 1 Kings chapter 10:

14 The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents,  15 not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land. 16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas  of gold went into each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

You would think that making shields would be good for his army, right?  One commentator I read, though, pointed out that these shields of gold were useless for battle, they were just pure show.  Okay, so that gives us our last point, accumulating gold for himself…check.  Wow, he sure was an overachiever, he got every item on the list.  The thing that bugs me is that his wisdom didn’t seem to play a part in keeping him out of sin.  You know he had to know that what he was doing was wrong, but apparently, he just couldn’t help himself. 

So, even if we consider ourselves wise, we still have no guarantee that we won’t go down the wrong path.  In fact, I wonder if it even created more of a snare for him because who would question the decisions of the wisest man on earth?

My take home message (for my life) with Solomon and his list is to realize how vulnerable we all are, I mean Solomon had God personally appear to him twice  the Bible says (1 Kings 10:9) and yet he still strayed.  He had all the wisdom in the world, but it wasn’t enough to keep Him on the straight and narrow.

I think our only chance is to daily give ourselves to God, read His Word on a daily basis and keep it in our hearts so we are thinking like Him.  He told the kings to study the laws He gave them regularly and for “all their days” so they wouldn’t break them.  Sounds like good advice.  If we keep His Word in our minds and hearts, and in front of us constantly, then we will see the red flags of bad decisions before it is too late.  We will also know that when we do fail and go down the wrong path, He is there to pick us up and help us when we call on Him again.  The biggest lesson, though, is to ask the Lord to get us where we need to be, not rely on our own power.  We will never make it without Him.  He knows we are not perfect, He just wants us to give our lives to Him and trust Him.

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Responses

  1. Polly, this is so beautiful. I loved the balance you’ve given here.

    It’s interesting isn’t it, that the bad choices he made (ie Marrying women who didn’t love God) was the start of the downward spiral.

    There’s a lesson to be learnt here.

    Like

  2. And what a downward spiral it was…such a sad ending for one so wise.

    Thanks, Kelly!

    Like


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