7-5-5 Solomon And Pride
It must be more than ironic that it was Solomon who wrote that before
a fall there is pride (Prov. 16:18). Clearly Solomon never
considered he could fall, so he never considered the possibility that
he was proud. The words of Dt. 17:16-20 are evidently a prophecy
of Solomon. He did multiply silver, gold, horses and wives;
his heart was turned away (Dt. 17:16,17= 2 Chron. 9:20).
Yet this passage says that if he studied the Law all his life, this would
not happen, and also his heart would not be " lifted
up above his brethren" (v. 20). Solomon's whipping of
the people and sense of spiritual and material superiority (Ecc. 1:16;
2:7,9) shows how his heart was lifted up. Yet Solomon knew
the Law, despite his explicit disobedience to the commands concerning
wives, horses etc. But his knowledge of the word didn't bring forth
the true humility which it was intended to.
This, surely, is what we need exhortation about: the need to achieve
a true humility in this evil, arrogant world. Solomon assumed
he wasn't proud; he assumed the word was having its intended
effect upon him. Such spiritual assumption is a major temptation for every
child of God. The fact that Solomon's pride is only inferred is
a reflection of the fact that his pride was not publicly apparent, either
to himself or to Israel; we learn of it indirectly through Dt. 17:16-20.
A similar indirect allusion to it is found in Isa. 2:6-13, a passage
which condemns Israel for their pride whilst making many allusions to
Solomon: " Full of silver and gold, neither is there
any end of their treasures...full of horses...chariots...idols...the work
of their own hands...the cedars of Lebanon" (i.e. Solomon's armoury
of 1 Kings 7:2,3; 10:17).
We have shown elsewhere that much of Solomon's apparent humility concerning
God's inability to live in the temple he had built was actually in contradiction
of the fact that Solomon believed that God would fully dwell in it.
Consider just one example of this contradiction: " I have built
an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever...but
will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven...cannot
contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!"
(2 Chron. 6:2,18). Solomon knew the theory of humility - he
wrote much about it in Proverbs. But Solomon and pride go
together. From the Law he knew the theory of God's greatness and manís
inability to please Him by works. He knew it so well that he probably
half meant it when he said it. But he only half meant it at best.
The real possibility that he might be proud, that he might not appreciate
the true greatness, the moral splendour of Yahweh, was just not present
Another example of indirect reference to Solomon's pride is found in
the way the record points a similarity between Paul and Solomon.
Each was given wisdom, and each was given a Satan to humble them because
of the way wisdom bloats a man's ego. The fact that we have
'the truth' in basic doctrinal terms - plus a fair bit of other Divine
wisdom - really will tempt us to be proud. This is the sort
of thing we individually and collectively need to exhort ourselves strongly
about. Like us, Solomon knew theoretically the paramount danger
of pride; he lists it as the most fundamental of the seven things
God hates (Prov. 6:17 cp. 16:5,18). Indeed, Solomon correctly
implies in Prov. 28:25 that pride is an outcome of lack of faith, and
this was exactly true in Solomon's case. His lack of faith
in the future kingdom led him to be proud.
Again, the Lord Jesus likewise hinted indirectly at Solomon's pride when
he said that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one wild flower,
symbolic of how God would clothe, with imputed righteousness, even the
weakest believer (Matt. 6:29,30).
This reference to Solomon in Matt. 6:29 is only one of several hints
that our Lord read Solomon in a negative light. He goes
on to warn against excessive attention to food, drink and clothes
(Matt. 6:31) - all things which the court of Solomon revelled in
to a quite extraordinary extent. " Take therefore no (anxious)
thought for the morrow...sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof"
(Matt. 6:34) sounds like a rebuke of the way Solomon did just this
in Ecclesiastes, as he intellectually battled with the sadness of
knowing that all his achievements would mean nothing in the future.
" But" , says Jesus, " seek ye first the kingdom
of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added
unto you" (Matt. 6:33) - clearly a reference to Solomon seeking
Divine wisdom and subsequently being blessed; surely the Lord
is telling us to follow Solomon's example in this, but to avoid
his pride and materialism. Solomon didnít seek the future Kingdom
but his own. The Lord taught that we should love our enemies, and
not fall into the trap of only loving those who love us (Mt. 5:44-46).
He seems to be alluding here to Solomon’s claim that wisdom
says: “I love them that love me” (Prov. 8:17). Maybe
I’m wrong, and the Lord didn’t have His mind there on
that passage; but in the context of Him re-interpreting and re-presenting
Solomon to us, it seems likely that He was consciously showing that
God’s grace is in fact the very opposite of what Solomon thought.
God loves His enemies, and doesn’t only love those who love
Him; and this is to be our credo likewise.
The record of how Solomon spoke of his building of the temple can now
be seen as blatant pride in his external appearance of spirituality;
without the foregoing analysis of the hints of Solomon's
pride, this wouldn't necessarily be a correct conclusion to reach;
but with all these inspired links, surely we can read the following as
pure pride: " Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence
of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven
(hardly praying in his closet! Was Christ alluding to Solomon in
Mt. 6:6?)...the house that I have built for thy name" (1 Kings 8:22,44).
Solomon's frequent emphasis on the fact that he built the
house makes a telling connection with the principle that God does not
live in houses built by men (Acts 17:24?) Solomon's
public declaration concerning his zealous intention to build the temple
(1 Kings 5:5 AV mg.) was surely unbecoming for a truly humble man.
The way the Queen of Sheba was given a guided tour of Solomon's wealth
makes ominous connection with Hezekiah's proud parading of his blessings
to the Babylonian ambassadors.