Solomon’s Folly

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 10.6-9
6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 8 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” 

“They would ask me to advise them like a Solomon the Wise
“If you please, Reb Tevye…”
“Pardon me, Reb Tevye…”
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes!
And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong
When you’re rich, they think you really know!” — Tevye, “If I Were a Rich Man”, Fiddler on the Roof.

Reflection: Solomon’s Folly
By John Tillman

God promised Solomon wisdom and wealth and power and God delivered. Because of this, I don’t mean to imply Solomon wasn’t wise, however, he used his wisdom foolishly.

Solomon was, perhaps, the world’s first and most successful “influencer.” He became more famous and more wealthy by being famous and wealthy. People shared about his wisdom. Others came to see it and gave massively expensive gifts. The queen of Sheba, wealthy beyond the dreams of any billionaire, is described as being “overwhelmed” by Solomon’s wealth. Does anything impress wealthy people like wealth? 

Nothing impresses God like righteousness. Scripture, including words of Jesus warn: wealth often short-circuits righteousness. (Deuteronomy 8.13-14; Matthew 6.20-24) We see this play out in Solomon.

Foolishly, Solomon didn’t apply his wisdom to God’s purposes. The Queen’s statement is ironic: “he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” Solomon failed to use wealth or wisdom to maintain justice or righteousness. 

Was anyone richer than Solomon? Perhaps no one, but definitely no king of Israel or Judah. Think for a moment—why did the richest king in the world use slave labor? 

Rather than set a new example for the nations of justice and freedom, Solomon remade Israel in Pharaoh’s image instead of Yaweh’s, returning the people God freed to slavery once again.

Economically and politically advantageous marriages corrupted not only the covenant of marriage but Solomon’s worship of Yaweh. Idol worship became commonplace.

In Ecclesiastes, we get behind-the-scenes notes where Solomon describes his extreme lifestyle as a noble experiment. However, few of us accept Solomon’s conclusion about wealth and pleasure: “All is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 2.10-11) Most people seek to retest Solomon’s findings. “Sure, sure, wealth and pleasure are meaningless,” we say, “but let me try.”

We are so easily overawed by wealth and wealth so easily overturns our morality. None of us are Solomon but we can all fall for Solomon’s folly. Any of us can become wealthy enough that our perspective is twisted. Any of us can apply a God-given skill, like wisdom, in a foolish and sinful way.

God’s gifts are less important than how we use them. God has chosen us as his royal ambassadors on earth, for the purposes of righteousness and justice. We should judge ourselves and others not by how much wisdom or wealth we have but by how closely we live out God’s purposes of justice and righteousness.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life. — Psalm 54.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 10 (Listen – 4:27)
Philippians 1 (Listen – 4:03)

Read more about Paul’s Example of Thankfulness
Who has been used by God to help you in your walk with Christ?

Read more about Better Temples
May we be a better Temple, shining the light of truth that exposes sin but also celebrating and proclaiming forgiveness for all.

Paul’s Example of Thankfulness

Scripture Focus: Philippians 1:3-5, 9-10

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…

Reflection: Paul’s Example of Thankfulness

By Jon Polk

Who has been used by God to help you in your walk with Christ? Who has come alongside you during difficult times? Who has helped shape you into the follower of Christ that you are today?

In his letters, Paul frequently gives thanks for other Christians that have been important in his life and he has good reasons to have fond feelings for the church in Philippi.

There, Paul met Lydia and a group of “God-fearing” women praying down by a river. Lydia and her household responded immediately to the Gospel message and she invited Paul to stay in her home. The fledgling Philippian church started by meeting in her house.

There, Paul was imprisoned after incurring the wrath of a slave owner. While he was praying and singing hymns, an earthquake broke open the prison doors! Because Paul chose not to escape, the jailer and his household came to faith.

There, Paul would return to minister at least three times following his initial visit. The church in Philippi began to financially support his traveling ministry. Their support was so significant that Paul would brag about them in a letter to another church.

So it is no surprise that Paul writes about them, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” How many people in your life can you say that about, that you thank God for them every time you think of them? Not only does Paul thank God for them, he also prays for them on a regular and frequent basis.

What exactly does Paul pray for them? He prays that their love increases and grows to overflowing. He prays that as their love grows, so does their relationship with God. He prays that their actions and motives would be pure, driven by this profound love.

When you think about those who have been influential in your life, is this the way you pray for them? Do you pray that they might have so much love that they can’t expend it all? Do you pray that their relationship with God grows and deepens? Do you pray as frequently for your friends as Paul says he does for the Philippians?

Perhaps we should.

So why don’t you take a moment now to thank God for significant people in your life. But don’t stop there. Like Paul did, send them a note letting them know how much you appreciate them. Surprise someone with encouragement today. You’ll be glad you did. And so will they.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting

The Lord lives! Blessed is my Rock! Exalted is the God of my salvation!
Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O Lord, and sing praises to your Name.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

1 Kings 10
 (Listen – 4:27)
Phillipians 1 (Listen – 4:03)

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Read more about Paul’s Anti-Anti-Intellectualism
Paul’s intent was that developing faith should not be dependent on the eloquence of a speaker or the artfulness of argumentative tactics.

Read more about Paul’s First Sermon
Paul’s sermon is in response to a call for exhortation. The word Luke uses, paráklēsis, can imply an entreaty for help and is often translated as “comfort”