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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 in him. 

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.