Solomon’s three books of the Bible
My next writing project will be titled: “Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – meditations from Solomon’s three books”, which has set out to cover as best I can Solomon’s three books of the Bible. As I write, this book about three books has been written and is currently being proof read.
Song of Songs: Love is strong as death
Proverbs: The way of wisdom
Ecclesiastes: Life under the sun
Solomon’s books cover important subjects to do with love, wisdom and the meaningless of life, but if studied with a prayerful, enquiring attitude will reveal profound truth to help us on our way.
King Solomon was a remarkable character, not least because he authored these three books of the Bible, as well as useful and profound works we no longer get to see. It is also reckoned he authored some of the Psalms. “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen” Psalm 72:18,19 and “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” Psalm 127:1 may be two further examples of Solomon’s insights and wisdom.
But for a successful counter coup, with the assistance of the likes of Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest, responding to an attempted coup by Solomon’s elder brother, Adonojah, along with his gang, to steal the throne from the one their father David had nominated to be his successor, following his death, i.e. Solomon, he might well have disappeared into oblivion because of this usurper action, instead of ruling over the kingdom of Israel that was never greater or more secure before or after Solomon’s reign. Undoubtedly, God had other plans as He did when another son of David, Absalom, earlier tried to steal the throne.
Solomon’s story as king was one who began well and finished badly. When God came to Solomon in a dream at the start of his reign (1Kings 3) and asked what He could give Solomon, Solomon’s response was for an understanding heart to judge thy people, that he may discern between good and bad who is able to judge this people. This pleased God, who not only gave him wisdom and an understanding heart but promised him both riches, and honour too. Arguably, the highlight of Solomon’s reign was the building of the Temple, which his father, David, wanted to build and made plans and preparations for, but God did not allow it. It showed how the worship of God was meant to be first and foremost in his reign. In dedicating the Temple, God came down in power, and then there was Solomon’s remarkable prayer and God’s response to it – all fantastic stuff.
There are plenty of examples covering Solomon’s reign to illustrate his wisdom and wealth. Two spring to mind – when two women came to Solomon to seek justice, each accusing the other of stealing her child, Solomon called for a sword to cut the child in half and give each woman a half. This caused the true mother to call for the other woman to have the child and was seen as an early example of his extraordinary wisdom. The other example worth citing was when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon in order to check out his wisdom and wealth and after hearing first hand concerning his wisdom and seeing his wealth, she was blown away and could declare afterward that the half had not been told her and his wisdom and prosperity exceeded the reports which she had heard.
The tragedy was that Solomon drifted away from the one true God in later life, brought about in part by marrying foreign wives who brought with them their own false gods. This sowed the seeds for the division of the Kingdom and while there were highlights, especially when the reigning king was a good one, the general trajectory was downhill, culminating centuries later in Israel and later Judah both being taken into captivity. Solomon’s story is as much about what could have been. He had everything he could ever dream of and while his three books were a superb legacy, sowing the seeds for Israel’s later demise was not.
Given Solomon understood what true love was about (Song of Songs), what true wisdom was about (Proverbs) and how life without God would end up (Ecclesiastes), it is rather ironic that the one who knew all this failed to consistently apply these important principles in his own life and reign. One sobering conclusion is we may know what is the right thing to do, including those today who read his three books of the Bible, but not act on it. Another is we can begin well and finish badly (although given the choice we might prefer that it be the other way round). Yet another lesson we can derive is that God uses imperfect humans to carry out His will, including Solomon, you and me.