Solomon: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Solomon is the third and last king of the united kingdom of Israel, following King Saul and King David. He was the son of David and Bathsheba, the former wife of Uriah the Hittite whom David had killed to hide his adultery with Bathsheba while her husband was on the battle front. Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon, likely the book of Ecclesiastes, and much of the book of Proverbs. Solomon reigned for 40 years, approximately 971-931 B.C. (1 Kings 11:42).

Solomon is one of those biblical characters where you can see lessons in what to do and what not to do, and therefore has much implication for our lives today.

Solomon is most known for his wisdom. “I have given you a wise and discerning heart,” God told Solomon, “so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). It was his humility that God loved so much that He blessed Solomon with so much more, for when God asked Solomon what he wished for, Solomon recognized his own inability to effectively rule over such a vast nation without the acquisition of wisdom (1 Kings 3:4; 10:27).

In addition to unsurpassed discernment, Solomon was a man of prayer (1 Kings 8:23-52) and was fully dedicated to building a temple for the Lord—and spared no expense in doing so. Of particular importance is noting that his prayers were most often directed about others, not himself.

Solomon’s early life shows that when we seek God with all of our heart, He will be found (1 Kings 3:4-10) and that God will equip us to accomplish the tasks He has given us (Romans 12:3-8; 2 Peter 1:3). We see in Solomon a man wholly committed to the Lord at the beginning, yet, there were signs of fleshly desires creeping in.

The man who wrote most of the Proverbs had much trouble in living them out. As we see in 1 Kings 3:3, he married outside of his nation, a direct violation of Deuteronomy 7:3-4. Unfortunately, he did not stop with just one unbelieving wife.

He kept hundreds of pagan wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:1-6), and also loved money and boasted of his riches. All these sins and misjudgments contributed to the eventual demise of the united Israelite kingdom. Solomon was the living embodiment of what Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 6:21. His heart was far from God.

In Solomon, like many of us, we start out on fire for the Lord, but our excitement seems to wane over time. We become entrapped by the world and the fleshly, temporary pursuits of pleasure.

So what can we learn from this side of Solomon? That sin has consequences, and wisdom is useless without obedience. Solomon provides a perfect example of what happens when you become unequally yoked with an unbeliever (in his case, HUNDREDS of unbelievers).

Knowing what is right doesn't equal doing what is right. Solomon had all of the wisdom, especially about obeying God, pursuing a relationship with God, avoiding worldly temptations, rejoicing in the wife of your youth, avoiding immoral women, worshiping God, etc.., BUT, he didn't do it. Throughout Scripture (read the Epistle of James, for instance) we learn that God appreciates the doer, not just someone who knows what to do and not to do. God will not judge us based on our knowledge/wisdom, but He will judge us based on how we actually apply that to our lives, our deeds.

Let our actions—the very lives we lead—match our words.