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Friday 7 October 2022

Solomon's Disaster

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One of the most interesting figures in the whole Bible is Solomon, the Son of David the king. Thos man was granted wisdom, wealth and power. Bit it all went wrong. How did this happen? 

Part Two: Solomon’s Dark Years

Solomon’s wisdom led to a success beyond anything probably any of us will ever experience. He is one of those few guys who you can say truly say had it all. He had the smarts, the wealth, the girls, the girls, the girls, the girls, in fact he had a thousand girls, 700 wives and 300 concubines. He literally had it all. He absolutely had too much. So what went wrong? Well Solomon tells us himself in Ecclesiastes 1:16-2:11.

Look at verses 2:10-11 - “10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (NIV). Considering his wealth and power you can really believe that when he says that he did not deny his eyes anything then that is what he did. Why would he do this?

Because he was trying to find for himself with his own wisdom what was good for someone to have and do. In other words, he tried to find happiness apart from God and what God has revealed – he became a fool. In fact, this is the definition of a fool.

Jeremiah 4:22 tells us, “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.”

Being a fool is departing from the knowledge that comes from God, or refusing to learn the knowledge that comes from God.

Why is this not good? Because no matter how smart we are we know nothing compared to God. He needs to be our starting point for wisdom. As Paul says Christ is our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30), and if we truly want to be happy we should seek happiness as God would have us do so. The wise person listens to those who went before them, including God, especially God.

Worldly wisdom sets no boundaries for itself, and its highest authority is the mind. But all of our minds are fallen. In fact, the more we find out about the human mind the more we realize how little control we have over many of its functions, unless we are spirit filled and very intentional about how we think. So having the mind as the highest authority is dangerous for us. Godly wisdom seeks to stay within the rules God has set for us – his wisdom is perfect and is based on an eternity of experience, knowledge and creative design.

An example of worldly wisdom is the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, who says this: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” I personally think option two is the wisest. Solomon tried the first and the 3rd way. The 3rd way nearly destroyed him. That’s the way of the world: #noregrets. But there are many bitter people who learnt the hard way.

Look again at what Solomon says in Ecc 2:11, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Worldly wisdom leads to despair, bitterness and often depression, it leaves the person who is pursuing it empty, without meaning, without hope, because worldly wisdom forgets to consider the most important reality, all of life exists for God and because of God, therefore we can only have true happiness in God.

Imitating those who live wisely and learning from other’s mistakes is the wisest of these three. But let me add a fourth way to learn wisdom, the best way: by listening. It is important to listen to learn from godly wisdom, so that your life does not end in disaster.

Some people don’t come back from the disaster of learning by experience, but some do.

Part Three: Solomon’s Disaster

Solomon’s dabbling with worldly wisdom caused disaster in his own life and in his kingdom. We read this in 1 Kings 11:1-6 – “1 Now King 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. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 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.” In Ecclesiastes Solomon talks about his dalliance with many women in a very intellectual way. The way he talks about it, he makes it sound like it was an exercise in reason or science. But there was a real spiritual aspect to it as well, which we read in other books.

Solomon’s pursuit of foreign woman led him down the path of idolatry. Remember this, Solomon was given a supernatural level of wisdom to rule his kingdom, and yet even he was almost destroyed by this path.

 He allowed pride and the influence of women in his court, to corrupt him. For whatever reason he thought he could out think God’s wisdom.  

Many Christians make the same mistake. Many think that they can ignore or innovate on the word of God. They think that they can play with hot coals and not get burnt. Proverbs 6:27 - “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” They think they can play with sin and not get taken down. 

This is so common in the church. How many respected leaders in Churches have gone down in flames over the years, turning out to be adulterers or abusers, or worse child abusers? Many. You often find out these people had porn addiction and they thought they could control it, but it was really controlling them. I know people this has happened to. 

This sort of things happens to varying degrees often to prideful Christians who think they can beat sin. It is not always this extreme, often it is a marriage breakdown, a career breakdown, or something else. But bad things happen to people who think they are too special to need to stop their sin.

Your fall might not be this extreme, but if you play with fire you will get burned, if you play with sin it will destroy you. You are not wiser than Solomon, none of us are, and yet even he was defeated by sin.

As Johnny Cash said, “You can run on for a long time, but sooner or later God will cut you down.” That is how this world works, because God created this world to function according to certain physical and spiritual laws.

Many Christians think they can run their families in opposition to God’s word, and all will be ok. That they can flirt with that person at work, and their wife or husband won’t know. That they can engage in dangerous behaviour the Bible warns about and much more, and that they will be ok, because they are different, they can handle it, they are special, they have modern knowledge. But if you are not wiser than Solomon, and you are not, then you can’t play with sin and win.

It is baked into the way that God made this world, and we are foolish if we think we are wiser than Solomon and can play with forces that led him into error. “4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father...6 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.”

This error did not just have an impact on Solomon’s life, it tore apart his entire Kingdom, 1 Kings 11:11-12 – “11 Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.” Because Solomon was the King, God’s judgement on him had an impact on his entire kingdom, it rippled out beyond just himself. This is true in some way for all of us.

-        - If you are a father, and you give yourself over to sin, God’s judgement on you will impact your whole family, and even pass on through the generations.

-        -  If you are a mother it will too, just maybe not to the same degree.

         -  If you are a ministry leader, a minister, a leader of any kind, your actions will have a severe impact on those you lead.

This is an incredible responsibility, that you need to reckon with. If we are wise this will benefit us and those around us. If we are foolish, this will harm us and many of those around us.

Proverbs 6:27, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” Choosing wisdom is not a theoretical thing. It has a big impact on your own life and the lives of others. And it can literally mean life or death in some instances. 

This is part of a sermon, you can watch the rest of the message here.


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