Solomon is known in the Bible as a very wise man. He received wisdom and everything else he needed from God, wrote many proverbs, and in his time he became widely known by his wisdom. However, he didn’t please neither God (1 Kings 11:9) nor the people (1 Kings 12:4).
He had everything any king would ever want: wisdom, peace throughout the land, riches, the respect of his people and of other nations, and most of all, the favor of God. What did he do with all that?
- he married many (I mean, many!) women from other nations (1 Kings 11:1-3), in spite of the warning that God had already given through the Law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17);
- he allowed his wives to bring idolatry to Israel (1 Kings 11:4);
- even tough God appeared to him twice (1 Kings 3:5 and 1 Kings 9:1-2), he built altars and followed other gods, in total disobedience to God (1 Kings 11:5-8);
- he put a heavy burden on the people in order to keep his expensive way of life, so much that they eventually rebelled against his son (1 Kings 12);
- at the end of his life, he tried to kill the man to whom God had promised part of the kingdom (1 Kings 11:40), putting himself against the will of God.
Solomon was so wise. Why did he behave like a fool? Why didn’t he use his wisdom to help him be a good king and a man of God, like his father David was?
There is a clue for us in the following verses he wrote:
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)
At the end of his life, he comes to the conclusion that wisdom brings sorrow and grief. That’s a sad perception, isn’t it?
But note that the key to why he became so frustated is in his previous sentence: he applied his time and efforts to the understanding of wisdom, madness and folly.
Instead of using God’s gift, his wisdom, to bless and serve others, as God intended, he became so fascinated with his gift that he spent his time studying it. And he found it to be a waste of time.
He was right: studying his gift instead of using it was a waste of time that only brought him sorrow and grief.
Instead of pursuing a relationship with the Giver of the gift, he spent his time pursuing more understanding, as if he didn’t have enough already.
God gives us gifts so we can use them, not study or admire them. Our gifts should bring us closer to Him, not to ourselves. Our gifts should bless the people of God, not make us feel better than anyone else.
Solomon wrote many proverbs, but he failed to live them himself:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7)
May we take his example and learn that God is the one to be worshipped, the One we should focus on, the One we need to know more about. Everything that He gives us here on earth are only tools we should use to accomplish the purpose He has set for us in this life.
May we be truly wise and focus our lives on the Giver, not on what He gives us.
May we be truly wise and follow Him, and Him alone.