Solomon: Failure of the World’s Wisest Man
by Max Dawson
In my mind, it is one of the most difficult things to reconcile. How did it happen? How could it possibly happen? I am talking about King Solomon. How did the wisest man in the world mess up so badly? How did a man with such a great beginning have such a terrible ending?
Solomon began as king with the blessing of his father, King David. He was anointed by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet (I Kings 1:28-37). God's blessing was on the young king. Furthermore, when petitioning God, he asked for an understanding heart so that he might properly judge God's people (I Kings 3:5-15). God granted his request -- and much more! In verse 12 God said, "I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you." Solomon was declared to be the wisest of all men (I Kings 4:29-34).
But in spite of all God had done for him, something wicked happened to his heart. In spite of his amazing construction of the temple, the wise man went astray. (The achievements of King Solomon were indeed amazing. See I Kings 10 for a sample of his greatness.)
He was truly a man of splendid accomplishments. But, when you open chapter eleven, you see a heart that has turned from the Lord (I Kings 11:1-10). He was clearly and plainly disobedient to God. In I Kings 3:1, Solomon took an Egyptian bride and made a treaty with Pharaoh. And then, it was horses and chariots (I Kings 4:26-28). Beyond that, he married many foreign women (I Kings 11:1-3). His marriages, as well as the horses and chariots, were in direct disobedience to the Lord's clear commands (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).
By the end of his reign, this amazingly gifted king had neglected the most basic principle of kingdom leadership! Solomon himself wrote in Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." No man can be truly wise who forgets the fear of the Lord.
Because of this failure, Solomon was no longer a godly man. He first allowed his wives to worship their own gods -- idolatry was not to be permitted in Israel. He built altars for them and eventually participated in pagan practices with them. His love for his wives was greater than his love and devotion for the Lord. His love for spiritual values was lost.
Solomon was a great kingdom leader. But no longer. The kingdom would be torn in two, and Solomon's son, Rehoboam, would only rule over Judah and Benjamin. When God declared that Jeroboam would rule over the other ten tribes, Solomon attempted to kill Jeroboam (I Kings 11:40). Once again, Solomon is seen in opposition to the will of God.
As kingdom leaders, let us never forget the first principle of leadership, indeed, the first principle of wisdom. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Without reverence for God, and a healthy respect for His wrath, we will fail as leaders. Be wise, my friends. Be wise.