Wise Men Make Mistakes | 1 Kings 11

Welcome to Real Life. “How could he be so stupid?” Dana's question referred to Samson, super-hero and mighty judge of Israel. No warrior or kingdom could conquer him. He was captured because of an area of weakness—a sexual dalliance with Delilah.[1]

Even Superman has his kryptonite.

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. The whole world sought an audience with him to hear the wisdom God placed in his heart.[2]  The Queen of Sheba tested him with difficult questions; he answered them all. Solomon authored three biblical books of wisdom and poetry: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

"The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" 

However, even wise men make mistakes. Like Samson, Solomon had a weakness for foreign women. He espoused 700 wives and 300 concubines.
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. 1 Kings 12:4
The regression of Solomon's errors:
  • He disobeyed God by marrying foreign women who worshiped pagan deities.[3]
  • He did not marry one pagan wife. He married a thousand; their idolatrous influence was multiplied a thousand-fold.
  • Rather than influencing his wives for good and for God, he fell under their influence. In doing so, Solomon broke the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me... You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”[4]
  • By indulging in 1000 wives, he robbed himself of an intimate one-flesh relationship with one wife. Later, Solomon gave this advice: “Enjoy life with your wife (singular), whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
  • Solomon made provision for his wives’ (and his own) idolatry by building pagan altars throughout Israel. Not only was his heart turned away from God, he influenced the hearts of Israel to turn away from God, as well.
  • Even after the Lord pronounced judgement on Solomon—“I will tear it (the kingdom) out of the hand of your son.”—he did not stop and turn back to God with his whole heart.[5]
His lifelong quest to find fulfillment in work, knowledge, riches, and especially pleasure left Solomon empty. “Everything is meaningless,” he wrote.[6] In the end, however, the wisest man who ever lived came to this conclusion:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
     ____

How can a wise man be so stupid? I'm quick to condemn Solomon because his weakness is not my weakness. What’s my kryptonite? Where do I act stupidly? And, how can I protect myself in vulnerable areas?
Merciful Father,
Let me now in Thy holy presence inquire into the secrets of my heart.
Have I today done anything to fulfill the purpose for which Thou didst cause me to be born?
Have I performed without omission the plain duties of the day?
Have I kept my imagination pure and healthy?
Have I been… sincere in all I have professed to be, to feel or to do?
Give me the grace to answer honestly, O God…
May I more and more be delivered from my besetting sins. Amen. 
John Baillie, Scottish theologian (1886–1960) [DPP, 43]
(From Prayers for Today by Kurt Bjorklund)

Image:  "The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" oil on canvas painting by Edward Poynter, 1890, Art Gallery of New South Wales
[1] Read “Samson Steps Over the Line
[2] 1 Kings 10:24
[3] 1 Kings 11:1-2
[4] Exodus 20:1-3
[5] 1 Kings 11:11-13
[6] Ecclesiastes 1:1

Comments

  1. As always, a refreshing drink of wisdom and a helpful reflection on Scripture. I am not convinced that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, but your points are still well-taken.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sean. Your comment on Solomon surprised me. However, after reading further, I see your point. But, as you say, even without the verses from Ecclesiastes, we can clearly see Solomon's downfall in Kings.

      I sure do appreciate your thoughts, Sean. Peggi

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    2. The Ecclesiastes discussion is a long one. Let's just say, I think it is a dialogue within a dialog. The Preacher/Professor takes on a role as cynic and imagines himself one like Solomon - with everything at his disposal. Yet life under the sun is meaningless (without God). It is only when God enters the picture that the cycle of purposelessness can be broken. The historical accounts of Solomon do not indicate that he turned from his folly.

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    3. Thanks for the further explanation, very interesting. I didn't explain myself well -- but, I read a little about the discussion regarding the authorship of Ecclesiates. Your point is certainly valid, esp. since Solomon didn't turn from his folly. Thanks again!

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