By Nick Batzig
Scripture tells us that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12; 4:29–31), but ultimately, he was also the cause of his own downfall. When walking in God’s ways and keeping His commands (3:14), King Solomon went on to do marvelous things to advance the kingdom of God. Rulers from around the world came to see the wisdom of Solomon at work and the resulting glory of his kingdom (4:34). “Throughout Solomon’s reign, Judah and Israel lived in safety from Dan to Beer-sheba, each person under his own vine and his own fig tree” (v.25). Their own fig tree!
Solomon, however, had a fatal flaw; he did not heed the wisdom God had given him, and failed to keep his own heart (Proverbs 4:23). The wisdom Solomon encouraged his sons to seek (Proverbs 1–9) was hard-won after seeking what was right in front of his own eyes for so long, witnessing the effects of his sin. He lost his way, and at the end of his reign, Solomon’s attention became fixed on his love of many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1–3). He had seven hundred wives, some of them princesses from other lands, marriages that were almost certainly a play for more power in the political realm. And if the wives weren’t enough, the king also had three hundred concubines. He accumulated mass amounts of wealth for himself, and perhaps most telling, Solomon adopted the gods of other nations, and then introduced the worship of those gods to Israel (vv.4–8). Solomon’s downfall was rooted in his quest for pleasure and power, and it resulted in idolatry. His bad choices led to the downfall of God’s people, Israel.
In chapter 11, we see how this affected Solomon’s relationship with God: “The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the Lord had commanded” (vv.9–10).
If this could happen to Solomon, a man who encountered God Himself—twice!—it can happen to us. All too often, we begin our faith journey resolute to follow our God, only to backslide on account of our own evil desires. We forsake the wisdom of God, and instead we choose to do what seems right to us.
Thankfully, there is a greater King than Solomon—greater than his father, King David. Jesus Christ never turned away from God, and remained faithful in His messianic ministry in His atonement for our sins. He is our Great Redeemer, the perfectly wise King of kings. “It is from [God] that [we] are in Christ Jesus, who became the wisdom of God for [us]—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). By His Spirit, may we choose to abide with Him and align our wills with His that He might teach us His wisdom. May He restore us when we wander from His ways.
Written by Nick Batzig