Introduction: This chapter reveals the height of Israel’s material wealth. Yet, it was also the beginning of its spiritual decline. God blessed Solomon with incredible wisdom and wealth. At first, he used his gifts to serve others. Yet, he then used them to serve himself. From Solomon’s example, God reveals seven lessons on how to seek and share His wisdom and blessings.
First, through Solomon, the queen of Sheba sought out God’s wisdom. Like the queen of Sheba, God also wants you to seek His wisdom when you are in need of guidance. Second, as he was led by the Spirit, Solomon openly shared God’s wisdom with the queen of Sheba. Like Solomon, God wants you to share His wisdom and truths with non-believers and seekers. Third, the queen of Sheba responded to God’s wisdom by praising God and offering God tribute. Like the queen of Sheba, God wants you to praise Him for His truths and for His guidance. Fourth, Solomon rewarded the queen of Sheba for seeking God’s wisdom. Like Solomon, God also promises to reward you when you seek His wisdom in faith. Fifth, God rewarded Solomon for serving Him. Yet, Solomon used God’s wealth to honor himself. From Solomon’s error, God warns that giving into coveting His blessing places you under Satan’s influence. Sixth, even though Solomon misused God’s blessing, other kings still paid great treasures to hear his God-given wisdom. From this, God reveals that His wisdom is greater than any earthly treasure. Finally, Solomon’s coveting caused him to violate God’s law. This in turn caused him to later covet women and turn his heart from God. God, however, showed mercy and grace toward Solomon. Solomon later wrote to warn others not to waste their youthful years coveting the things of the flesh or money. A wise person instead covets the things of God and His wisdom.
The queen of Sheba tests the wisdom of God inside Solomon. After news of Solomon’s God-given wisdom spread throughout the Middle East, the queen of Sheba came to test him with difficult questions: “1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with difficult questions. She had a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and a large amount of gold and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was on her heart.” (2 Chr. 9:1; 1 Kgs. 10:1-2). Sheba was likely located in Yemen. Solomon’s fame for his God-given wisdom had spread throughout the known world at that time.
Test all things. Like the queen of Sheba, many people are initially skeptical of God’s Word. Yet, God encourages seekers to test what He says: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” (1 Thess. 5:21). God’s Word is truth, and His truth will set you free: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. . . So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jo. 8:32, 36). If you have any doubt about God’s Word, test it and verify for yourself that it is true.
God’s wisdom is free when you ask for it. God is also ready to pour out His wisdom when you ask for it: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Ja. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). If you are in need of guidance, are you seeking His wisdom?
Willem de Poorter (1608-1649) “The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon” (1630)1
Seek Jesus’ wisdom, the wisest counsel anywhere. Jesus used this same account to lament that the people had someone wiser than Solomon to advise them, but they refused to listen: “The Queen of the South [Sheba] will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matt. 12:42). Jesus wants you to listen to Him “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3). Are you seeking the free wisdom that He offers you?
God promises to bless those who hunger for His truth and righteousness. Like the queen of Sheba, if you diligently seek God’s wisdom, you will also find it: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (Jo. 15:7). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4). Do you hunger for God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you?
Solomon shares God’s wisdom with the queen of Sheba and astonishes her. Solomon’s God-given wisdom exceeded the queen of Sheba’s expectations: “2 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from Solomon which he did not explain to her. 3 When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built, 4 the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, she was breathless. 5 Then she said to the king, ‘It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. 6 Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You surpass the report that I heard.”’ (2 Chr. 9:2-6; 1 Kgs. 10:3-7). Because God gives His wisdom to you freely through Jesus, you are also called upon to freely share it with others.
Hans Holbein (1497/8-1543) “Solomon Receives the Queen of Sheba” (1535)2
Share Jesus’ wisdom with others. Jesus is the Word who became flesh (Jo. 1:14). That means that you can share even greater wisdom than Solomon merely by sharing the Word. Are you sharing the Word as part of your Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20)?
Be God’s light for those who seek Him. God called every believer by name before the foundation of the world to do good works for Him: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). Like Solomon here, one of the many types of “good works” that you are called upon to do is to share the light of Jesus with others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 6:14). You are also to comfort or encourage others with the comfort you have received from God (2 Cor. 1:4; Heb. 3:13). By your actions and words, are you a light to others who are lost or suffering?
Teach the wisdom of Jesus’ Word to edify the Church. Speaking the wisdom of God’s Word over another to bless, correct, restore, or uplift them is one of the highest callings. Any member of the Church can be called to do this: “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:4). “I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:5). A prophet speaks God’s Word. If you use the wisdom of Jesus’ Word to edify, bless, correct, or encourage, you are a prophet.
Also use your other gifts for God’s service. God endowed Solomon with great wisdom and wealth that he initially used to further God’s Kingdom. Even if you don’t feel wise, God has given you gifts to serve Him: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet. 4:10). “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Ro. 12:6-8). “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Eph. 4:11-12). “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. . . . .4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:1-7). Every person’s gift is needed in the body of Christ because no one person has them all (1 Cor. 12:13-27). There is also no gift labeled “spectator” within the Church. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23). Are you using your gifts for Christ?
God is also faithful to bless you when you serve Him. Solomon’s great wisdom and world renown fulfilled God’s prior promise to make him the wisest king on Earth: “Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.” (1 Kgs. 3:12). Solomon’s “fame was known in all the surrounding nations.” (1 Kgs. 4:31). Even when you sin or fall short, He will also be faithful to keep His promises to you: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;” (Heb. 10:23; same, 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:13). God promises to pour out His blessings when you obey and serve Him (Dt. 28:1-14). When you serve Him, do you trust in His promises to bless you?
The queen of Sheba and King Hiram find joy and give praises and gold for God. After discovering the wonders of Solomon’s God-given wisdom, the queen of Sheba praised God and gave riches to honor Him. Having also discovered God’s wondrous truths, King Hiram from Lebanon also continued to give gifts of tribute for God: “7 How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. 8 Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.” 9 Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great amount of spices and precious stones; there had never been spice like that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. 10 The servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir, also brought algum trees and precious stones. 11 From the algum trees the king made steps for the house of the Lord and for the king’s palace, and lyres and harps for the singers; and none like that was seen before in the land of Judah.” (2 Chr. 9:7-11; 1 Kgs. 10:10-12). When you receive God’s wisdom, you should also praise God and give thanks by investing in His Kingdom.
Spirit-led believers should desire to invest in the Kingdom of God out of gratitude. Like the queen of Sheba and King Hiram, believers who discover the Kingdom of God should feel led out of gratitude, praise, and joy to invest their time, talent, and treasures in it: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:44-45). Do you joyfully give to God’s Kingdom? Or, is it a burden for you?
Show your gratitude by making your life a living sacrifice for Jesus. If you are grateful for all that Jesus has given you, you should also make your life a living sacrifice for Him: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Have you given the best of your life to Him as an act of worship?
Through Solomon, God rewarded the queen of Sheba for seeking Him in faith. As he was led by the Spirit, Solomon freely gave his time to answer the queen of Sheba’s questions. He also rewarded her financially for seeking God’s hidden truths: “12 King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested besides a return for what she had brought to the king. Then she turned and went to her own land with her servants.” (2 Ch. 9:12; 1 Kgs. 10:13). God never wants you to seek Him for a reward. But, when you seek Him with the right motives, He promises to reward you.
God will reward those who seek out His wisdom and righteousness. Like the queen of Sheba, if you seek God’s kingdom, His righteousness, and His wisdom, He also promises to provide for your needs: “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.” (Prov. 3:13-15) “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). Thus, you don’t need to worry about His provision of food or clothes (Matt. 6:25-34). If you worry about your provision, you are showing a lack of trust in Him. If you are in need, are you seeking after God’s wisdom?
Like Satan, Solomon misused God’s blessings to glorify himself. God fulfilled His promise to bless Solomon financially. Solomon, however, failed to use these gifts to glorify God. Instead, like Satan who bears the number 666, Solomon used his gifts to bring glory to himself: “13 Now the weight of gold which came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 14 besides that which the traders and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. 15 King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of beaten gold on each large shield. 16 He made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three hundred shekels of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. 17 Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 18 There were six steps to the throne and a footstool in gold attached to the throne, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 19 Twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. 20 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 21 For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.” (2 Chr. 9:13-21; 1 Kgs. 10:14-22). Solomon received 666 talents of gold annually (2 Chr. 9:13; 1 Kgs. 10:14). A talent equaled approximately 75 pounds. Thus, he received approximately 49,950 pounds of gold per year. This was in addition to the money that he received as a tax from trade within his territories (2 Chr. 9:14; 1 Kgs. 10:15). God previously promised to bless Solomon with great financial wealth because he only asked for wisdom while serving as King: “I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.” (1 Kgs. 3:13). Solomon at first used this wealth to bless the people: “20 Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.” (1 Kgs. 4:20). Yet, he then invested in great works to honor himself. He made opulent displays of his wealth. This included 200 large shields, each with 7 1/2 half pounds of gold, 300 smaller shields, each with 3.75 pounds of gold, a throne made of ivory and gold and apes and peacocks to impress visitors. Even though his motives were wrong, His white throne foreshadowed Jesus’ great white throne (Rev. 20:11).
Like Solomon, the antichrist may lose his love of God through covetousness. Besides the antichrist, no other person in the Bible has the dubious distinction of being associated with both “wisdom” and the number “666” (2 Chr. 9:13; 1 Kgs. 10:14). “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (Rev. 13:18). His coveting placed him in communion with Satan: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). One commentator suggests that this might be a Biblical warning that the antichrist might be unexpected because he will start off as a wise man of God who becomes corrupted through covetousness: “In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon. ii. This isn’t to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some strange reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon – a good man corrupted.” (David Guzik on 1 Kgs. 10) (italics in original).3
Store up your blessings in heaven and not on Earth. Unlike Solomon, Jesus calls upon every believer to store up their God-given wealth in heaven, not on Earth: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:19-20; Lk. 12:33). In heaven, He will reward you with a relationship with Him as part of your inheritance: “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession.” (Ezek. 44:28). “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” (Ps. 119:57). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.” (Ps. 16:5). “But you will be called the priests of the LORD; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs.” (Is. 61:6-7). The Holy Spirit is His down payment on your eternal inheritance: “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Cor. 1:22). Also, when you act in one accord with your fellow believers for Christ, Jesus further gives part of His glory to you (Jo. 17:22). If you are grateful for what you are going to receive, what are you doing with your life to give thanks? (Ro. 12:1-2).
Jesus’ promise of rewards in heaven for those who deny themselves for Him on Earth. Jesus also promises to reward you in the eternal Promised Land if you deny yourself for His righteousness: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:20). “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44). “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” (Is. 45:3). The treasures that He promises will also never perish (1 Cor. 9:25). To store up treasures in heaven you must deny yourself for His righteousness: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”’ (Matt. 16:24). Yet, to receive your reward in heaven, you must also deny yourself in secret. If you deny yourself or do good works for the recognition of others, you have received your reward (Matt. 6:4). Are you denying yourself for Him to store up treasures in heaven? (Josh. 16:2-3).
Don’t credit your God-given wisdom or other gifts to your own actions. Like Solomon, many successful people honor themselves with their gifts because they feel responsible for their accomplishments or knowledge. Yet, believers should never boast in their God-given wisdom or other gifts. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24). “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14). If you boast in your accomplishments, you are more likely to hoard your gifts. When others praise you, do you praise Jesus?
Pagan kings valued God’s wisdom in Solomon greater than any earthly treasure. Although Solomon misused God’s blessings to glorify himself, the pagan kings around him still paid him fortunes to receive the blessings of God’s wisdom: “22 So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. 23 And all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 24 They brought every man his gift, articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses and mules, so much year by year.” (2 Chr. 9:22-24; 1 Kgs. 10:23-25). When he obeyed God, God set Solomon high above the Earth (1 Kgs. 4:30). This also fulfilled a promise in Deuteronomy: “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” (Dt. 28:1). The pagan leaders’ acts of tribute spanned from the beginning to the end of his reign: “21 Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.” (1 Kgs. 4:21).
God’s wisdom is worth more than any earthly honor or treasure. Even though God’s wisdom may bring honor, respect, or money, Solomon later learned from his mistakes that God’s wisdom is worth more than any money: “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Prov. 16:16). “My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver.” (Prov. 8:19). Do you seek out riches, power, and respect? or God’s wisdom?
When you do God’s will, He will also reward you. When you step out in faith to serve Jesus, He promises to bless you in many different ways. This can include a prolonged life: “So you shall observe to do just as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). This might be a year, a day, or some other increment of time. Only in heaven will you learn how much time was added to your life. Believers can also receive five kinds of crowns, a number symbolizing His grace. First, those who persevere in the face of trials, like Caleb, will also receive a crown of life: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Ja. 1:12; ; Rev. 2:10). Second, those who live pure while waiting for His return, will receive a crown of righteousness: “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8). Third, those who exercise self-control will receive an “incorruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Fourth, elders, pastors, teachers, leaders, and shepherds of God’s flock will also receive “a crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5:4). Finally, those who help lead others to Christ will receive a “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thess. 2:19; ). Are you living a righteous life to receive all the crowns available to you?
Solomon violated God’s Word by coveting. As Solomon hoarded wealth and power (symbolized through horses and chariots), he violated God’s law that he had sworn to uphold as King of Israel: “25 Now Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 26 He was the ruler over all the kings from the Euphrates River even to the land of the Philistines, and as far as the border of Egypt. 27 The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28 And they were bringing horses for Solomon from Egypt and from all countries.” (2 Chr. 9:25-28; 1 Kgs. 10:26-29). In addition to gifts, Solomon taxed the trade between Egypt and Syria and Turkey as a middleman. But, as he obtained wealth and horses and chariots, he violated the laws that God set to protect his heart.
Solomon violated God’s law against a king seeking to multiply his wealth. By multiplying his power and wealth (as symbolized through horses), Solomon violated God’s law that was meant to protect His leaders from coveting: “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.”’ (Dt. 17:16). Isaiah later condemned the kings who did the exact same thing that Solomon did here: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” (Is. 31:1). Instead of trusting in horses and chariots for protection, God wanted Solomon to place his trust in Him: “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” (Ps. 20:7). Wealth is not by itself evil. It is only when you develop a love of money that it becomes a sin (1 Tim. 6:10). Do you love money and prestige?
Coveting cannot be satisfied by giving in to temptation. Solomon’s coveting began with money and power. It then grew to include women. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, he could not satisfy his coveting by feeding it. The coveting that the devil offers can only be satisfied through more coveting (Heb. 11:25; Lk. 12:19-20). “And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.” (Is. 56:11; Hab. 2:5). “Sheol, and the barren womb, earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, ‘Enough’.” (Prov. 30:16). Giving into your temptations only leads to misery as you are unable to find peace and contentment. Are you giving into your temptations?
Coveting is a sin of the heart that leads to more serious sins when left unchecked. Coveting is a sin of the heart that defiles you. Jesus warned: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mk. 7:21-23). God prohibits coveting because it leads to other more serious sins. Every believer is at times guilty of this sin (Rom. 3:20). Jesus and Paul analogized sin to yeast, the fastest growing microorganism (Mk. 8:15; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). If you are entertaining small sins of the flesh, will they stay small for long?
Solomon’s death. The account of Solomon’s life in 2 Chronicles concludes with Solomon’s death and his burial next to David: “29 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? 30 Solomon reigned forty years in Jerusalem over all Israel. 31 And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam reigned in his place.” (2 Chr. 9:29-31). The 2 Chronicles account is remarkable for the omission of many of Solomon’s sins. This omission reflects God’s mercy and grace after Solomon repented at the very end of his life for his many sins.
God’s mercy and grace in selecting Solomon and sparing him from punishment. Although Solomon initially used his gifts for God, he later misused God’s blessings and committed several deadly sins which should have disqualified him from being king. First, he took 1,000 wives, including 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:3-4). He violated God’s law that he have only one wife 999 times (Dt. 17:17(a)). More importantly, his many wives, especially his pagan ones, turned his heart against God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Second, because of his foreign wives, Solomon began to worship other gods (1 Kgs. 11:5-6). This violated God’s First Commandment (Ex. 20:2-3; Dt. 5:6-7). Second, he built idols and pagan altars for the Jews to worship the pagan gods like Chemosh and Molech (1 Kgs. 11:5-8). This violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6; Dt. 5:8-10). Third, to become king, Solomon would have taken an oath to obey God’s laws. His failure to follow his oath as the King of Israel blasphemed God’s holy name (Lev. 19:12). This violated God’s Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Fourth, by worshipping other gods and stumbling generations of Jews to do the same, Solomon dishonored both his father David and God the Father. This violated God’s Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Fifth, Solomon tried to kill his servant Jeroboam after the prophet Ahijah told Solomon that God would give Jeroboam 10 of the 12 tribes for Solomon’s rebellions (1 Kgs. 11:40). In addition to being another form of rebellion against God, this violated God’s Sixth Commandment (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Sixth, Solomon hoarded gold and wives out of covetousness. “I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;” (Ecc. 2:4). This violated God’s Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Finally, because his heart grew hard, he refused to listen to the prophet Ahijah’s warnings that Solomon’s sins would lead to the division of Israel (1 Kgs. 11:9-13). If he had repented the way David did, God could have forgiven him. Because Solomon misused God’s grace, he misled Israel into division and darkness. The nation divided into two nations, and the people embraced idolatry. This idolatry would last for generations and ultimately lead to the Jews’ exile.
Willem de Poorter (1608-1649) “The Idolatry of King Solomon” (1640)4
Solomon later lamented his covetousness. Although Solomon acquired incredible wealth and a 1,000 wives, he later lamented that his actions were wasted vanity. The book of Ecclesiastes might be considered Solomon’s letter of repentance. He used it to warn others not to follow his path of covering wealth, power, and the things of the flesh: “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Ecc. 1:14-15). Are you chasing after vain wealth, power, or things of the flesh? If so, you may one day look back on your life and be filled with regret.
To fight covetousness, fear God. Solomon was the wisest man alive and author of most of the proverbs. Yet, by giving into covetousness, he first hoarded money and then the things of the flesh (1 Kgs. 11:1-8). Solomon knew God’s Word. Yet, he did not fear breaking it. He later warned others that the best way to protect against pride is to be humble and fear God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; Rom 7:7). The fear of God is defined in the Bible as “hating” evil (Prov. 8:12). Do you hate evil things or do you covet them?
To fight covetousness, praise Jesus for all your undeserved blessings. Every good and perfect gift in your life comes from above (Jam. 1:17). Because Jesus is the true source of your wisdom and your blessings, thanking Him for it can help to prevent a sense of entitlement: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:14). “To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the LORD.” (Ps. 116:17). “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Ps. 100:4). Are you praising Jesus for His blessings of wisdom?
To fight covetousness, deny yourself physical pleasures and covet the things of God. Jesus reveals that to follow Him you should deny yourself certain worldly pleasures: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”’ (Matt. 16:24-26). The one thing in life that you should covet is a deeper relationship with God: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2; Matt. 6:6, 19-24; 13:44-46; 1 Cor. 12:31; Phil. 3:7-14). The Bible reveals that “godliness with contentment” is “great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have . . .,”’ (Heb. 13:5). Are you content seeking to draw closer to God?
A wise person covets the wisdom of God’s mercy and grace. Jesus warns: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mk. 8:36). Paul also advises that what God offers is greater than any wealth or beauty you have ever experienced on Earth: “but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ (1 Cor. 2:9; Is. 64:4). Thus, if you are wise, you will covet the wonders that God has planned for you in heaven and not money or the things of the flesh.