The full title of this lesson is King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness. If wisdom is the combination of knowledge and insight or righteous judgment, then how did the man who was blessed with more wisdom than any other man ever to live do such foolish things? The story of King Solomon is a cautionary tale. If he could fall into spiritual foolishness (he broke his covenants) from his exalted position before the Lord, then how careful do we need to be to protect ourselves from being just as foolish?
When Solomon was made king he had a dream, in which he was visited by the Lord and was told to ask for his heart’s desire.
7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
In verse seven Solomon admits that he is young and inexperienced. He acknowledged to the Lord that he did not know what to do in order to be a good ruler. In verse eight he acknowledges to the Lord that Israel had grown into a great people. So in verse nine he asks for the ability to be a wise judge in Israel with the ability to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, so he could rightly judge Israel.
Here is the conversation he had with the Lord in his dream:
11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
The Lord said, in effect, ‘Solomon, you didn’t ask for what a normal person would ask for. You did not ask for long life, personal riches, or to prevail over your enemies. Instead, you have asked for wisdom to be a good judge for my people. So not only have I blessed you with wisdom unsurpassed by anyone who has ever lived, but you will be unmatched for wisdom by any human to ever live in the future. And because I am so happy with your request, I will give you what you did not ask for, wealth beyond measure, and peace all your days. And if you keep my commandments I will lengthen your days as well.’
All Blessings are Conditional
After Solomon finished building the temple and his own house, which took a total of 20 years, the Lord accepted the temple Solomon had built. After the dedication of the temple the Lord appeared to Solomon one more time and reminded Solomon of the conditions of the extensive blessings he enjoyed.
3 And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
5 Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
6 But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
The covenants of God are as eternal in nature as He is. If he promises that Solomon’s posterity would rule Israel as long as the earth should stand then that covenant could only be broken by Solomon or his posterity. Once we enter into a covenant with the Lord, we are the only ones who can break the covenant. The Lord never goes back on His own word. The Lord specified the condition that would have to exist in order for the covenant made with David and again with Solomon to be broken. The king would have to forsake the worship of the one true God and go after false gods. Amazingly enough, this is just what Solomon did.
What I am saying here is that as far as the Lord is concerned, any and all covenants He makes with us are ironclad and unbreakable on His end. But we can snip the thread that binds us to the Lord’s promises with a simple decision to go a different direction. For example, we break our baptismal covenants all the time, that is why we go back to Church repenting and recommitting to be more consistently obedient to God’s commandments this week than we were last week.
We don’t know what path Solomon took that led him to apostasy in the end. Well, that isn’t entirely true. We know he listened to his many wives, many of whom were not of the house of Israel. He followed their requests to worship their gods, eventually leading him to break his own covenants in favor of his wives’ gods. We do know that his superior wisdom did not protect him, his wealth did not protect him, and living in peace did not protect him from sinning. At some point Solomon abandoned the gifts he had once held so dear and turned to worship gods he once knew were false.
I am guessing that none of us live in the warm and comfortable cocoon that Solomon lived in, but our ability to fall prey to the temptations of Satan are no less real for us than they were for Solomon. Satan can use not only our weaknesses against us, but our strengths as well. He can appeal to our pride, our desire for recognition, our desire for greater security, any number of things. The only thing that will keep us tethered or tied to our covenants is our own commitment to renewing those covenants and relying on the Lord to be the source of strength we need to keep the promises we made with the Lord. In the end, the eternal covenants we make with the Lord are only as eternal as is our commitment to honor those covenants.
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OT Week 26