What if you were offered anything you wanted? What would you choose? Fast cars, money, a nice job, friends, a big house or a big boat. There was one man who was offered anything he wanted and he didn’t pick any of those things. In fact, in not picking those things he ended up with most of them anyways. His name is King Solomon. Solomon didn’t ask for anything that most people ask genies for. Solomon asked for wisdom. “So give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil (I Kings 3:5a).” To many it would seem that in making such a wise request Solomon would have been successful until the day he died. Unfortunately, as I Kings records that is not the case.

King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex and Power is a devotional walk through the book of 1 Kings as it pertains to the live and reign of King Solomon. Ryken presents the reader with the highs and lows of Solomon’s life as king of Israel. We see first hand Solomon’s successes and failures. Chapter by chapter we are brought face to face with how much our hearts are like Solomon’s. How much we are tempted with the same vices of money, sex and power.

Ryken contends that Solomon’s life represents that of the literary type of ‘tragedy’ (p. 171). Solomon started off on making the right decisions but ended his life as the result of making bad decisions.

Solomon’s Right Decision

Early on in 1 Kings God approaches Solomon and offers to give him anything he asks for (1 Kings 3:9-13). Solomon makes a wise choice and chooses wisdom. As a reward for his wise choice, God promises to give him “riches and honor (1 Kings 3:13-14).” Solomon would not only be the wisest man of his time but he would also be the richest and most sought after person.

Immediately following the reception of this God given wisdom we see Solomon using it to judge Israel. When Israel hears “of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer judgment (I Kings 3:28).” God’s divine gift of wisdom to Solomon is evident to all and God is glorified in it. We have to stop and ask ourselves, “Is God glorified in the gifts He has given me?”

Though Solomon requested wisdom to judge the people God gave him much more than that. God gave Solomon riches beyond imagination. Unfortunately, Solomon’s decision to ask for wisdom did not mean he always made the wisest choices.

The Temptation of Money

As it was with the rich young ruler that Jesus encountered in the NT so it was with Solomon. Solomon was enamored with riches and possessions. Though he was obedient and built the temple he also built a house for himself that was far beyond the expense of the temple. In the royal safe he had hundreds of gold shields and in his house he had the windows plated in gold. In fact, near the end of Solomon’s rule 1 Kings 10:14 records for us how much money Solomon took in each year in gold alone: “The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents.” Later in the text we see that Solomon amassed  ships in which he brought home different kinds of exotic animals to have for himself (1 Kings 10:22). It was not the mere possession of these things that was sinful but rather that Solomon allowed them to turn his heart away from trusting God to trusting them.

The Temptation of Sex

Many people believe that Solomon did not have a problem with women until the end of his rule. This is definitely not the case. In fact, Solomon began his rule with women problems. In chapter 3 we see Solomon starting off his rule by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh king of  Egypt. At the end of his rule in chapter 11 we see Solomon holding nothing back when it came to his desire for women and sex.  The first three verses reveal for us how sinful Solomon’s heart and actions were:

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart (1 Kings 11:1-3).

As wise as Solomon was he played the fool when it came to women. Ironically, it was his lust for women that eventually turned his heart away from God and brought God’s judgment on him.

The Temptation of Power

In conjunction with Solomon’s desire for women was his desire for power. Many of the marriages Solomon had were primarily attempts at political alliances that would have no doubt brought Solomon protection and power. Not only did Solomon have political power but he had military power. 1 Kings 10: 26 tells us that Solomon had “1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.”

The life and rule of Solomon is truly a tragedy. One could only wonder if God’s people would ever have a godly king that would follows God all of his life. Thankfully a better king was to come. In fact, the next king of Israel to come on the scene is the final promised king – King Jesus! Jesus is the true and better king of Israel!

Aren’t you glad that Jesus is a better Solomon? That God’s kingdom is not dependent upon a failing earthly human king but a dependable heavenly saving king Jesus Christ! The temporary kingdom Solomon built is a picture of the eternal kingdom God was going to build with Jesus Christ as its king. Solomon’s successes give us a glimpse into the kingdom of God and his failures show us how much better Jesus will be as our king in God’s kingdom.

King Solomon is a humbling reminder that we can all succumb to the temptations of power, sex and money. That an earthly king will always fail to meet the perfect demands of God and that Jesus is the only true king who is ruling at the right had of the Father waiting to consummate his rule over the whole world.

NOTE: I received this book for free and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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