Let us seek to finish our own race of faith and become even wiser than Solomon once was by continually learning and constantly obeying the only true everlasting wisdom – God’s Word.
Solomon is known for his wisdom – and yet in his old age he became one of the most foolish people of all time.
If we can understand the same influences in our own lives that turned Solomon's heart to foolishness, we can be even wiser than he was!
It is never enough just to begin a race well; the hare in Aesop's fable went off like a rocket but was eventually distracted and stopped running.
It is better to be like the slow yet determined tortoise who kept on going – and crossed the finishing line first.
Solomon began his walk with God well, creating a magnificent temple, dispensing judgments of great wisdom and writing proverbs of astute understanding.
He suppressed Israel's enemies and brought peace and immense wealth to his country.
The nation became so rich that even silver lost its value because of its vast reserves of gold (1 Kings 10:14–29).
The Bible warns us, however, to be careful when we become wealthy because then we often begin to depend on our own resources rather than on God (Ps 62:10; Prov 30:8).
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to describe his quest for personal fulfilment. He explains how he sought satisfaction by inaugurating a great public works programme, compiling valuable collections, organising sensational orchestras, arranging sumptuous banquets, pursuing educational research and even creating a harem with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (Eccles 2).
Solomon eventually confesses that all of his activities were a vain "chasing after the wind", and that true fulfilment could be found only in a close relationship with God.
It was Solomon's unbridled pursuit of fulfilment which was his undoing.
About six hundred years previously, Moses had written down God's instructions explaining that the Israelites should not compromise their faith by marrying people from other nations who worshipped other gods (Exod 34:12–17).
(This was not God demonstrating racism, and it was not a totally exclusive ban because Boaz married the converted Edomite, Ruth, who became the ancestor of King David and even Jesus Himself.)
In simple terms, God was explaining that when we have a very close relationship with people of another religion, it can damage our own belief and lead us into harmful and sinful practices.
In 1 Kings 11:1–11, we read that Solomon ignored this commandment not only by marrying women of other faiths, but also building temples for their foreign gods, Chemosh and Molech, on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem.
(The worship of Molech included ritual child abuse and child sacrifice by burning alive (Lev 18:21, 2 Kings 23:10).
Even though God appeared twice to Solomon, he refused to follow the Lord's commands and even began to worship the foreign gods himself, resulting in the eventual destruction of his kingdom.
There is none so foolish as one who has known wisdom and deliberately chooses to ignore it.
Solomon the wise became Solomon the fool.
He eventually thought his own wisdom superior to the wisdom of God, so clearly expressed in the commandments.
Solomon thought he could ignore them and find fulfilment – but instead he found futility and destruction.
How similar is the message written by Paul over a thousand years later in the book of Romans:
"Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead" (Rom 1:22).
How similar too is our modern world in its haste to abandon the eternal truths of God's Word for our own unbridled pursuit of pleasure and fulfilment.
This is the "wisdom" of modern man, often summed up in the phrase, "if it feels good, do it".
This creed instead demonstrates the foolishness of modern man, for the fruit seemed good to Adam, and beautiful women seemed good to Solomon, but both led to their destruction; just as rejecting God's wisdom expressed through His Word could lead to our own downfall.
Let us seek to finish our own race of faith and become even wiser than Solomon once was by continually learning and constantly obeying the only true everlasting wisdom – God's Word.