Our pastor went on vacation for a couple of weeks, so he asked me to fill in for him with the Wednesday night adult bible study. I decided to spend some time talking about Solomon, one of the more tragic figures in the bible. I’ve included my notes from the class below in case you weren’t there on Wednesday.
The first lesson was titled, “I DON’T LIKE SOLOMON”
I don’t like Solomon because:
1. He challenges my belief in God’s inherent fairness and justice.
The story of Solomon is not consistent with God’s instantaneous judgment on men like Moses and Uzzah. (Uzzah was the man who was killed instantly for trying to catch the arc of the covenant when it fell off the ox cart.)
a. Solomon was born out of David’s sin. 2 Samuel 12:24
What if this happened today? David got to keep the wife and died a happy man. It doesn’t seem right that something good should come of that relationship.
b. God made up his mind from the beginning. 2 Samuel 12:25, 1 Chronicles 22:9
c. God appears to violate his own rule by promising Solomon riches. Duet. 17:1
d. God’s “judgment” seems weak for the offenses. 1 Kings 11:9 At the end of his life, God tells Solomon he is going to take away all of his glory, but even then he waits until after Solomon’s death. The man was allowed to die with all of his earthly splendor intact.
2. His encounter with God was preceded immediately by sin. 1 Kings 3:3-5
Sacrificing in the high places was still a big deal to God.
3. Solomon made a mockery of marriage. 1 Kings 11
How can we take Song of Songs seriously as a picture of marriage when he had 700 of these?
4. He abused God’s gift of wisdom. Eccls 2:1
5. Solomon was a hypocrite.
a. Compare Proverbs 1&2 to Eccls. 1&2
b. Eccls 5:8-16
Solomon was the ruler who oppressed the poor. He bemoans wealth lost through some misfortune, but he was responsible for his own demise.
6. There is no record of Solomon repenting.
7. I don’t like Solomon because he tempts me to be just like him. This was the real kicker. I don’t like reading the story of Solomon because it makes me wonder, if God let him get away with all of that, how much can I get away with?
I DON’T LIKE SOLOMON….BUT I LOVE HIS WORK
I love the book of Ecclesiastes because it doesn’t contain any Sunday School questions. For example: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want? Obviously, you have to say the Bible right? Personally, I would go with Kiplinger’s Guide to Practical Boat Making.
Another example: Do you read your bible often enough? Of course, you can never say “yes” to that question. Nothing bothers a group of Christians more than telling them that you are “Christian” enough.
My answer: I read my bible as often as it suits me to do so. (You should have seen the looks I got when I gave that answer in church. Priceless.)
Do I get any spiritual credit for making excuses? If not, they are meaningless.
Reasons I love the book of Ecclesiastes:
- It gives me permission to be honest about my relationship with God.
- There are no easy answers in the book of Ecclesiastes.
- Solomon was up front about his activities and failures. (Eccls 1&2)
- There is no benefit to “pretending” to be better than I am .
- It forces me to know for sure what I believe to be true about God.
Some people have a “best case scenario” view of their relationship with God. ie. It only works if everything works. Mike Tyson said, “Every man has a plan to beat me until they get hit in the face.” A lot of people’s faith is strong until they get hit in the face and then it crumbles. What they don’t understand is that Christianity works best when you are getting hit in the face, not the other way around.
If we don’t understand these truths, we will fall away when life gets hard.
- Life is hard. Even for Christians (Eccls. 9:1-2)
- “Easy” Christianity will not endure hardship.
- It shows me how to simplify my life.
- Solomon set the ultimate example of failure in the pursuit of meaning and happiness.
- The answer is easy; almost too easy for us to believe. (Eccls 2:24)
- My prayer for life: Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot in life and be happy in his work- this is a gift from God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. (eccls.5:19-20)
If you aren’t familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, I highly recommend you check it out. It is about as frank and honest an assessment of life as you will find in the bible. Some find it horribly discouraging, but I personally find it refreshing.