Knowing the Truth is Not Enough
This is the next sermon in our current series, “Different”
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We are in a series called “Different” and we’ve been talking about what it means to be set apart for God. Before I left for Nigeria, we were looking at different people in the Bible that can help us on our journey to being like Christ. In this article I want to look at the life of Solomon and see what we can learn. In the very beginning of his journey Solomon started well by listening to the advice of his father David.
1 Kings 2:2-3 says, “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
There are three things to point out about his early spiritual life.
1.He showed humility by asking for wisdom from the Lord.
1 Kings 3:5-9, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
Wisdom is applied knowledge. It helps us make decisions that honor the Lord and align with Scripture.
2. Solomon wrote much of the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs is filled with practical advice on living a godly life.
3. Solomon also wrote the Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of what God desires marriage to be.
It shows us that early in his life he knew what was right. He was not confused about God’s expectations. Then we see a shift in his life. Solomon begins to ignore his own counsel and the wisdom of Scripture. We need to pause because this is important for our story. Earlier in scripture God had given clear instructions for anyone who would be king.
We find it in Deut. 17:14-20, “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”
So, their king was to…
– not acquire many horses
– not take on multiple wives
– not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold
– and to guard his heart against pride.
God gave these commands to future kings to prevent them from trusting in military power, worshipping foreign gods, relying on wealth instead of on Him, and allowing pride to corrupt their faith.
Yet Solomon broke all of these commands! His taking of many wives and concubines directly violated God’s Word. And just as God had predicted, 1 Kings 11:4 says, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God”.
To please his wives, Solomon even got involved in sacrificing to a god named Molech, a god that required “detestable” sacrifices to be performed. 1 Kings 11:7-8 says, “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. 8 And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.”
We find God’s response in 1 Kings 11:11, “So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates’”.
Because of his father David, God showed mercy to Solomon (verse 12), but Solomon’s kingdom was eventually divided. God was not going to force Solomon to obey. Solomon clearly understood God’s will. God had blessed him with wisdom and gave him every opportunity to follow. But instead Solomon chose to follow the influence of those around him and he watched his spiritual life disintegrate. And he suffered the consequences.
But – and this is good news for us – God wasn’t finished with him yet. He used Solomon at the end of his life to write the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s this book that gives us the final chapter of his story. Solomon chronicles everything he tried in order to find fulfillment in this world, in his culture, apart from God. In his words he tried everything “under the sun.”
He says in Eccl. 2:8, “I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired . . . a harem as well–the delights of the heart of man”. But his money and harem didn’t deliver what it promised. This sounds a lot like our culture – trying to find happiness through sex and wealth. What he found instead was that “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (verse 11).
I think we can all appreciate the courage it takes to change after so many years of disobedience. The father of Atheism, Anthony Flew, had the courage at the end of his life to change his position. He wrote the book, “There is a God” after a life of searching. He was a part of C.S. Lewis’s Socratic club where the motto was, “follow the argument wherever it leads.” We should never be afraid of truth because it always leads us back to God. I think we can learn a lot from Solomon about what NOT TO DO to live a holy life. Failure can teach us some important lessons. Yet it’s nice to believe that Solomon ended his life well. I believe that Solomon repented at the end of his life when he once again gives us wise counsel.
Eccl. 12:13 says, “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man”.
It’s never God’s desire that we sin, but He allows us to make our own choices. The story of Solomon is a powerful lesson for those who may have started strong for God but over time have drifted…
– Those who drifted in high school
– Those who drifted in college
– Those who may have drifted because they are angry with God
– Those who may have drifted because they have been pulled in by our culture
It is not enough to start well; we need to keep asking for wisdom and strength from God to finish well, too.
As you read this you may think, “It’s too late for me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A new beginning can start today! We said that wisdom was knowledge applied. Solomon thought that having 1,000 women would provide happiness, but whatever pleasure he derived was not worth the price he paid. You may be thinking this man or, this woman, this relationship, is going to give me what I need…
– It’s going to help me find my identity.
– It’s going to fulfill or complete me.
– It’s going to satisfy this longing in my heart.
Nothing could be further from the truth. All it will do is lead you further from God and lead to spiritually devastating consequences. As a wiser Solomon said in Eccl. 12:24, “God will bring every deed into judgment”.
I know you may be confused about who you are and what your purpose is in life. I know the pressures you face to conform to this world is sometimes overwhelming. I know you want to fit in or be loved. But let me assure you Solomon is right…A life without God is meaningless. You’ll find that it’s just chasing after the wind.
True joy, peace and contentment is found in a life that honors God; a life that is set apart for Him. Your true identity is only found in knowing Him. And your purpose is only found as you worship Him with your whole heart.