"Koheleth's Warning: Meaningless, Meaningless, All is Meaningless" (Part 7 of 8)
If you want to read the story of Solomon - I encourage you to do so to make this study much more vibrant to you - read it in 1 Kings, chapters 1-11 (or the similar account in 2 Chronicles, chapters 1-9). You see, Solomon began his life with so much advantage. He had immense wealth, undisputed authority -- there was a time, a period of peace, the absence of war. He had divinely-imparted wisdom. He had brilliance beyond his years and he had the love and respect of his people, his nation. His name is Shlomo in Hebrew. Does that word look familiar to you? It comes from the same root as Shalom. It means the "peaceable one." But some of you might recall that God tells the prophet Nathan (you can read about it in 2 Samuel 12:25) -- at the birth of Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba -- to give him another name. Yedidiah, in Hebrew or Jedidiah. And why was he given that name? It means Beloved of Yaweh. This peaceable man, beloved of Yahweh, had so much advantage. The Lord was with him. He followed the Lord. He had a great reputation for piety. He was filled with wisdom and knowledge, so great that even this magnificent queen from Sheba came all the way just to test him at this wisdom and see it in action. He could give learned and lengthy discourses on not only spiritual matters but on natural matters, such as plant and animals and birds and reptiles and fish. His discernment and strength were legendary. The writer of 1 Kings says God gave Solomon wisdom and great discernment like the sand that is on the seashores. His riches and fame were extravagant. We're told in 1 Kings 4, if you want to read it later, about his household: 5 to 6,000 people were fed daily in the household of Solomon. How is it my wife and I have trouble feeding the three of us? Thirty units (cores) of fine flour were used, which some translate into current denomination to be 58 gallons of fine flour were used daily, sixty units of meal, ten fat oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, one hundred sheep, and also deer, fowl and wild animals were on the menu daily.
This extravagance reminds me, did anyone see the review in Sunday's paper about this book that has come out on Christina Onassis, the daughter of Aristotle Onassis? It talked about how the super rich are unbearably miserable in their lives and how her life came to a very tragic and premature end. But one of the things that they talk about is how before this Coke and Diet Coke was available in Europe, she would send her private jet from Europe to New York, just to buy up a hundred bottles of Coke and Diet Coke and fly it back to her. And someone said to her, why don't you get 1,000 bottles at a time instead of having them make this trip every week and her maid said, "Well, Madam wants fresh Coke and Diet Coke." And so, if you figured the cost of every little bottle of Coke that she drank and Diet Coke cost them about three hundred dollars. That's the kind of extravagance that Soloman had.
His gold was reputed to be 666 talents, which could be more than 25 tons. He knows about wealth. He didn't have a horse. He had 40,000 horses. He built a 4,000 stall stable. Gifts were lavished on him. He was praised of all the kings in the earth and surpassed all in riches and in wisdom. He was a man of great vision and skill. In fact, he was so great that even Jesus says of him, refers to the "glory that was Solomon’s." The glory of Solomon. What a man he was. A man of God who depended on God. He was an author and composer. We are told he authored over 3,000 Proverbs and composed over 1,000 songs. He was a master admistrator, governor. His domain, his Kingdom extended from the Euphrates to Egypt and he appointed rulers and a very efficient system throughout his kingdom. He was a master architect. He built those magnificent pools of Solomon that you can see outside of Bethlehem. He built a palance complex. He had great military edifices. You'll see some of them if you go to Israel at Hatzor. And and Megiddo and at Gezer. This magnificent city, military complexes with their characteristic casemate walls and the six-chambered gate (that is spoken of as the Solomonic type of gate) designed to aide in defense of the city. You'll see the remains of those, for example, at Megiddo.
A master architect and, of course, we must not forget the fact that Solomon built the first Temple. It took seven years to complete. It was praised for its beauty. He was an incredible diplomat. Throughout his forty-year reign, there was peace in the land. He accomplished his purposes by diplomacy, not by warfare. He was a tradesman. With the Phoenicians, he built a whole shipping empire. He had a fleet of vessels that would go out on a three year journey and return with gold and riches from all over the world, every three years. He owned the tollgate on the two main trade routes of the Middle East. The Via Marus. And the King's Highway. Everybody that used those trade routes had to pay him bounty. His lucrative trade with Egypt gave him all these horse. He was quite an equestrian. Many chariots and horses. But here is an interesting point. The British author, Thomas Carlisle, has said, "Adversity is hard on a man but for every one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity." There is something about the power of wealth that can corrupt us if we are not so careful, which Jesus was continually cautioning us about. Solomon compromised his commitment to God. He ceased taking God seriously. Or said another way, he lost his fear of Yaweh.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.