“Experience Is the Best Teacher. “An expression made by George Gascoigne back in the sixteenth century still boldly impactful, today.
This was Solomon’s life.
As a young man, inheriting the throne of David his father, Solomon turned to God for direction and counsel.
His request–“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people that is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).
In response, God also granted Solomon riches, wealth, and honor such that there was none to be compared.
THE QUEEN: The “Queen of Sheba” came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Amazed, she declared, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy act and thy wisdom. Howbeit, I believed not the words, until I came and my eyes have seen it: and behold the half had not been told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard!” (1Kings 10:6,7).
King Solomon gave the “Queen of Sheba” all her desires, whatsoever she asked–besides that which he gave her of his royal bounty…(1 Kings 10:13).
Solomon’s Splendor: The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, not including the revenues from merchants and traders and all the Arabian kings and the governors of the territories.
King Solomon made: Two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. (A shekel is equivalent to 4 ounces or 11 grams).
(600×4=2400, divided by 16 ounces per pound=150 lbs. or 68038.86 grams).
Three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield.
The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.
- Then the king made a great throne covered with ivory and overlaid with fine gold.
The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step.
Nothing like it was ever made for any other kingdom.
- All King Solomon’s goblets were gold.
- All the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold.
Nothing was made of silver because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days.
- The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years, it returned, carrying gold, silver, and ivory, and apes and baboons.
King Solomon excelled in riches and wisdom more than all the other kings of the earth.
The whole world sought an audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.
- Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.
- Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities with him in Jerusalem.
- The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.
- Horses were imported from Egypt and Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price of one hundred and fifty shekels of silver.
- Chariots were imported from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver.
Vanity of Vanities. As king over Israel in Jerusalem, I the preacher gave my heart to seek and search out wisdom concerning all things done under heaven.
I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.
“Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?”
I tried cheering myself with wine and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
I undertook great projects:
- I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.
- I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
- I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
- I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house.
- I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
- I amassed silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces.
- I acquired male and female singers and a harem—the delights of a man’s heart.
I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this, my wisdom stayed with me.
- I denied myself nothing my eyes desired.
- I refused my heart no pleasure.
- My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
- Yet when I surveyed all my hands had done, and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Nothing gained under the sun.
Earthly Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless: Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom and madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done?
I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness;
But I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.”
The wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered. The days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
Toil Is Meaningless: I hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.
I hated all things I had toiled for under the sun; because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This is meaningless.
So, my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
A person may labor with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This, too, is meaningless and a great misfortune.
What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?
All their days’ work is grief and pain; even at night, their minds do not rest. This, too, is meaningless.
A person can do nothing better than eat and drink and find satisfaction in their toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner, he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.
This, too, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Solomon Turns from God: King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—He loved Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.
They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods. Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.
- He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not entirely devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
He followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek, the detestable God of the Ammonites. So, Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David, his father, had done.
- On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable God of Moab, and Molek, the detestable God of the Ammonites.
- He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
The Lord God of Israel who hath twice appeared unto Solomon became angry with him because his heart was turned away.
Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.
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.
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Therefore, remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanities. (Ecclesiastes 11:10,11).
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low.
Also, when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel is broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is van