Great was Solomon’s nurturing. He was raised in a home, church, and nation that made much of the Lord. His father was a combination of poet, preacher, prophet, and king. His mother was one who had experienced the mercy, forgiveness, grace, and favor of the Lord. Around his family were ministers and elders who valued the things of God. The Word of God was consistently before him. How blessed and privileged was this king to have been nurtured in the chosen nation and in a believing household.
Great was Solomon’s wisdom. The Lord had granted him more theological and intellectual favor than anyone on the planet. A portion of his writings still exist today, and wise men are still being instructed by the king blessed with heavenly acumen.
Great was Solomon’s wealth. He started with a great nest-egg from his father. It is reasonable to assume he applied his divine wisdom to the art of making and multiplying of silver and gold. King Solomon then accumulated abundant riches from neighboring kings and queens. However, ultimately, it was the blessing of the Sovereign One who owns all things who granted his servant wealth beyond measure.
Great was Solomon’s peace. Solomon was not a man of war like his father. For most of the days in which he sat on the throne, he was able to enjoy rest, calm, pleasure, and kindly relations with his neighbors.
Great was Solomon’s ministry. His people were made glad by his teaching and leadership. Potentates from other nations beat a path to his door to experience his abilities in accumulating knowledge and applying it rightly. Additionally, he was the one chosen by the Lord to construct God’s central house of worship. Solomon received the plans, accumulated the materials, oversaw the construction, and was able to experience the falling and filling of the Holy Spirit upon Israel and her temple. What a ministry! What a privilege! What a thing to for which to be remembered! What a legacy!
Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (1 Kings 11:1-3)
Great was Solomon’s sin. Solomon sought contentment from women other than his covenantal spouse. He lusted and loved women — specifically forbidden by the Lord — and collected them as his harem. Yes, some men had “trophy wives,” but Solomon had his trophy case. And what was it that drove him most? Was it intimate relationships, international politics, external pride, or physical pleasure? Who knows the heart of man; it could have been a combination of all these things. But in the end, at the prime of his sin, Solomon earned his place alongside other legendary hedonists such as Xerxes, Caligula, Casanova, Chamberlain, Simmons, Hefner, Sheen, Brand, Woods, and R. Kelly. He was among the best in transgressing the law of the Lord. Despite his wisdom, Solomon proved to be the double-minded representative of God who was unstable in all his ways. God’s minister was the sophomoric fool presented in Proverbs 7 who heard wisdom call from above but preferred to harken to the cry of a woman who dwelt below.*
Great were Solomon’s consequences. At this point, it is important to recognize the grace of the Lord. Solomon was not faithful towards God, but God was faithful to him. That being said, Solomon lost not his elect status. He lost not his eternal heavenly inheritance. Neither did he lose the undeserved, gracious, and immutable affection of his Savior and Lord. All of this was based upon David’s Greater Son who was to come. Jesus would earn all Solomon’s righteousness and die for all Solomon’s wickedness. Solomon did not lose one iota of all that was graciously granted to him. He was saved by grace alone and not by works of his own doing.
However, as Solomon forsook his God and followed his own heart and loins, he harmed himself, harmed his wives and concubines, harmed his children, and harmed his nation. Solomon’s marital and sexually folly did not mess up God’s plan in any way, but it sure did make a mess of his life, worship, family, ministry, and legacy.
So men, what about us? How do we see ourselves in light of Solomon? More importantly, how does God see us in light of his law? Are we like Solomon? Are we legendary hedonists? Are we sons, fathers, husbands, deacons, and elders compiling our collection of sins? Like Solomon, are we promiscuous princes?
Are we guilty of not understanding how much we are loved by our Heavenly Father?
Are we guilty of not having a proper love for him in return?
Are we guilty of passing on God’s good wisdom as we prefer the counsel of our culture or our own hearts?
Are we guilty of not loving our covenantal spouse as we ought?
Are we guilty of being selfishly motivated in our sexual practices with our one covenantal spouse?
Are we guilty of lusting in our hearts and minds after forbidden women? At this point in our lives, could the number of forbidden fantasies be reaching the 1000 mark?
Are we guilty of acting upon our fleshly-inspired desires? Have we added sins of the body to sins of the mind?
Are we guilty of continuing to swim in the cesspool of sin while not fleeing temptation as we have been taught? By now, should we not have denied our God-given rights — like eyes and arms — in order to better pursue holiness?
Are we guilty of avoiding and lying to safe and gracious brothers who ask how they can pray for us?
Oh brothers, are we guilty of marital and sexual sin, and do we deserve to have our names listed alongside Rueben, Judah, David, Solomon, Xerxes, Caligula, Casanova, Chamberlain, Simmons, Hefner, Sheen, Brand, Woods, and Kelly?
Sure we do. All of us are guilty. None of us are righteous. We are all promiscuous princes.
However, I put before you one more question:
Are we like Solomon or David?
You see, David had his sexual and marital sins. It seems Solomon was a chip off the old block. Some might even say, “Like father, like son” or the “apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.” However, there was a difference, and the Holy Spirit made a distinction. A few verses later, the inspired author of 1 Kings wrote:
So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:6)
Thought both father and son were guilty of the same sin, and though both deserved the same condemnation, and though both suffered pain and caused pain as a consequence of their folly, only one was seen as “wholly following the Lord.” How could this be?
Solomon’s repentance is not found anywhere in the sacred text. Personally, I like to think that Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes were written toward the end of his days. I like to think that he repented and spent his final years telling his friends of his sexual and marital folly, but who knows? Perhaps this is just my wishful thinking. However, at least as of the writing of 1 Kings, Solomon is distinguished from David. He is one who was quick to dishonor God and harm his neighbors, but he is not one quick to repent.
However, David’s repentance is legendary. Psalm 51 has become one of his most famous prayers as he names his transgressions, hates them with a holy passion, runs to his merciful and gracious God, supplicates for change, and intends to minister differently. In the end, David proves to be a “man after God’s own heart” who “wholly follows the Lord,” and this not because he did not sin. No, it is because he did not fail to call out his sin and repent.
Therefore fathers and brothers, will you repent with me?
* Proverbs 7 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.