After the last post,”Need A Little Help?”, I started thinking about Solomon.
“How did someone who was raised by King David, named “beloved” by God himself, a collector of so many wise proverbs, a master of so many intellectual subjects,a wise and good King, a master builder, etc, etc, …how could he fall into such grave sin as to build places of worship for idols? I Kings even says he “followed after other gods.”
I quit teaching high school history and government because the schools were on double session and my schedule made our lives miserable. One morning at 5:30 a.m., I rammed my car into John’s. That did it. I found a job teaching kindergarten. It was much more fun and we could be on basically the same schedule.
Then, one of the kindergarten mothers asked if I’d like to attend a Bible class taught by a dynamic lady who was new in town. “Sure,” I said. This same question about Solomon came up one day. The answer she gave was compelling, and made me think and wonder. She said, “Oh, he didn’t know God…ever.” Really? I thought. Then why were three books of his included in the Word of God? Later she hedged, “He didn’t have the Holy Spirit like we do, so he couldn’t resist temptation. He had no power or help. He just kept on loving his wives and didn’t see anything wrong with encouraging their idolatry.”
“How could this be?” I asked myself. I needed a little help, but unfortunately, this was back before I had a library of my own and long before there was google. Actually, I had a library, but it was filled with history and government books which were of no help with this question. So, I just kept it in the back of my mind, wondering how this could be if he wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Later, this teacher decided I couldn’t have ever been a Christian either! She considered me as continuing to practice sin because I stopped attending her Bible classes. She felt it her obligation to tell others to avoid me. Hmm. All this took awhile to transpire and led to some painful lessons for me. I still didn’t have an answer to my question or how to handle the way I’d been treated, so I went to Ernest Reisinger, a pastor I had come to trust. He started giving me books and introduced me to Banner of Truth. I bought their republished books by Charles Bridges, “Proverbs” and “Ecclesiastes.” At last I found some answers about Solomon.
Charles Bridges taught that Solomon was a man of God who, unfortunately, was led astray by his foreign wives and fell into grave sin as a mature man. However, he did not refuse to repent as my teacher claimed. Instead, he wrote “Ecclesiastes”…. after his sorrow for his sin and after he had turned from his disobedience to the plain teaching of Scripture back to a welcoming Savior who blotted out the sin, never to bring it up again. He then wrote Ecclesiastes to teach us what folly it is to seek lasting happiness. The main point is that nothing in this world can truly make one happy for very long. “All is vanity.”
Have you and your children ever tried to catch the wind? Sometimes you can catch a butterfly or a bubble…but just try catching the wind. It won’t happen. Living for our own desire of the moment or seeking happiness through some new pleasure or person is like chasing the wind. It is a good principle to remember that nothing in this world will give us lasting happiness. It won’t happen. Solomon listed what had failed him: wisdom, hard work, pleasure, wealth, wickedness and folly, love and women. He was unhappy.
I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters (Ecclesiastes 7:23-26a).
Sadly, Solomon was left with a bitter taste in his mouth. He slipped away from God’s plain commands not to make an idol or to worship any other gods (Exodus 20). Some consequences resulted. He had to fight rebellions against his rule; he never experienced true biblical marriage; he became very aware of his own folly and foolishness. He sinned against God and everyone knew it.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 12:8).
HELP FOR US
But, all was not in vain. Charles Bridges believed Ecclesiastes was a “solemn and perpetual testimony” of godly repentance… very much like that of his David’s Psalm 51. We can turn to these writings when we are out of breath from chasing the wind and suddenly understand that happiness is a vapor. They will give us encouragement when we need to turn from a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit. We don’t hear much about repentance and fear of God today. But, David and Solomon were acquainted with both. Their writings are resources for our encouragement and strength. Why not read Ecclesiastes and Psalm 51 this week?
What are you chasing? What do you think will make you happy? Can you put your finger on an inordinate, over-powering desire that is driving you? Have you fallen away from God by disobedience of his commands?
Solomon in all his glory is nothing compared to Solomon in his repentance and wise advice on how to live.