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7-5-2 Solomon's Attitude To The Kingdom

It would seem from Ecclesiastes that Solomon lost any personal hope even of resurrection, and because of this he wonders why he ever initially had asked for wisdom: “I myself perceived that one event [death] happeneth to them all. Then said I in mine heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise?” (Ecc. 2:14,15 RV). “God giveth to the man that is good in his sight wisdom…this also is vanity” (Ecc. 2:26). This is a definite reference back to himself, who was given wisdom. But he now saw it as vanity, seeing there was no personal future hope. What this teaches us is that unless we personally believe we will be in the Kingdom, then all our wisdom is of no value to us personally….and in the end, we will like Solomon live a life that reflects this.

Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes 6 of the tragedy of possessing all things but being unable to enjoy them, because fulfilling one's own natural desires one after another really isn't much of a life. And thus he came to despise the concept of eternal life: " Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good" (Ecc. 6:6). " A thousand years" was likely a figure for eternity. He conceived of eternal life as being life as we now know it; and he didn't really want to live for ever as he'd fulfilled every natural desire. There's a real warning for us here. If we see the eternity of the Kingdom as a big carrot for us, it may not actually be that motivating for us in the long run of spiritual life. It is the quality and nature of that life which is surely important to us, and not the mere infinity of it. Indeed, eternal life as we now know it would be a curse rather than a blessing. 

We have shown elsewhere that Solomon saw himself as the Messianic Son of David, therefore he felt his kingdom was the Messianic Kingdom.  He felt that God “hath made me an house, as he promised” to David (1 Kings 2:24). He felt that he was the fulfillment of the promises, and therefore the Kingdom had come; he failed to be awed by the greatness of the Christ to come, and abstracted and reduced His coming Kingdom into an effective nothingness. By doing so, he totally overlooked the highly conditional nature of the promises, and forgot his own proneness to failure, and the weakness of his nature. He failed to meditate upon the promises beyond what they seemed to offer him in the here and now; and the result was that he felt they were totally fulfilled in him: “[God had] kept with thy servant David that thou promisedst him... as it is this day... I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:20,24). He dogmatically declared to Shimei: “And King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord for ever” (1 Kings 2:45). The way Solomon built a huge physical throne, defended by impressive lions of his own creation (1 Kings 10:19,20), rather indicates how he missed the entire point- of ruling on God's throne, over a dynasty or 'throne' which God would perpetuate by grace; rather than establishing or creating the throne himself.

And in all this, of course, we see our warning. This may explain why he built his own house as a replica of God's house - he felt that in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant his house was God's house. Solomon's attitude to the Kingdom was that it was all here and now, and it was not so much the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of Solomon.  In this Solomon may seem far removed from our experience.  But with eyes half closed, discerning only the general outline, Solomon is surely in a mind-set analogous to many of us.  Solomon was so sure that because of his father’s righteousness, therefore God would establish him. “Mercy and truth preserve the king, and he upholdeth his throne by mercy” (Prov. 20:28 RVmg.) says as much- the promises (“mercy and truth” usually refer to God’s promises) had been given to David and just because of that, Solomon was sure that his throne and kingdom would thereby be upheld. He forgot the crucial need for personal, obedient relationship with God. And he overlooked all the hard work that his father had done in preparing for the temple to be built- in that he claimed all glory for himself: “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established” (Prov. 24:3) he said- perfectly true, but with the self-justifying twist behind the words in his case, that he had built the temple thanks to his own wisdom. Wisdom is given, he said, to the man who is pleasing to God (Ecc. 2:26)- again referring to himself. One even wonders whether he justified his many wives by reasoning that “Whoso findeth a wife [any time!] findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).

Solomon’s use of his wealth to create a garden with special rivers and fruit trees was surely an attempt to reproduce Eden on earth (Ecc. 2:5,6 RV). He thought that he could buy the Kingdom, create the Kingdom paradise on earth, have it now... and so very many have fallen into the same delusion.