Monday, April 27, 2009

Solomon and His Fall From Grace

One of the great theological debates in Christianity is can someone fall from grace. We discussed this in some detail in a previous article on Solomon and Once Saved Always Saved. In this article I want to delineate the issues that contributed to his fall.

We know that Solomon fell from grace because God had warned Solomon not to do a variety of evil things, and especially not to marry wives of other nations for "…surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." I Kings 11:2; Deuteronomy 17:17; Exodus 34:16; II Corinthians 6:14-17. Scriptures states clearly "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father." I Kings 11:4. Then we see the reaction of God to Solomon’s condition. "And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice." I Kings 11:9

So we can clearly see that one can fall from grace in this example of Solomon. We also know that one can fall from grace because the Apostle Paul clearly states that we can in Galatians 5:4. The great question is whether disobeying God on one point is the major issue or, as in Solomon’s case was his "turning" a result of many small issues leading to the clear and visible issue? This is the purpose of this article to show that Solomon’s fall from grace was a culmination of many issues, as conversion is the culmination of many little issues as well.

As we have noted before David did not treat Solomon well and did not allow many experiences of suffering to get to Solomon. He was the first surviving son of his relationship with Bathsheeba and thus tended to be on the pampered end of the spectrum of the royal children. In addition David had a tendency to not discipline his children as we saw in the cases of Adonijah and Absalom, Solomon’s older brothers. So this lack of discipline was an issue in Solomon’s experience that would contribute to his decision making over time.

Another issue for Solomon was that he grew up in a household that was dominated by polygamy, and all of the evils that come with this household arrangement. In Genesis 21:9 Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac and she told this to Abraham and told him that the bondwoman and her son must be cast out. Genesis 21:10 This was a very painful and grievous test for Abraham but he was willing to obey God, even in the painful issues, and he did what God, and Sarah, asked him to do. Genesis 21:11-21. David would have saved much suffering if he had obeyed God’s original plan of one man and one wife. David could have role modeled God’s plan for Solomon but it was not to be. Thus Solomon subconsciously learned about polygamy as a normal rather than an abnormal way of life.

As we discussed in an earlier article Solomon did not appear to have any prophetic input into his reign. He appeared to think that his wisdom alone would be enough to guide him through the difficulties of life. Oddly enough it was Solomon himself who spoke in Proverbs 11:14 that in a multitude of counselors there is safety. In future Scripture the same truth is restated "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." I Corinthians 10:12

We have no record of Solomon spending daily time reading the book that he had been commanded to have written and to read all of the days of his life. Deuteronomy 17:18-20. Again, this would have been a barrier to self-exaltation and the idea that wisdom makes one wiser than the origin of wisdom – God.

When Solomon began to build the Temple of God, he sought after a talented builder. He did not take into account what God had done for Israel in the time of Moses. God raised up talented men and endowed them with the necessary spiritual gifts to build the Sanctuary in the time of Moses. God would have done the same thing for Solomon if He had been asked. It appears that Solomon chose to go to the world to find this talented person rather than to God. This kind of thinking was a sign of the decision making that would put Solomon at risk of falling. The choice of Hiram, and the appeal to Hiram of Tyre for support, both indicates a lack of awareness of the dangers of becoming unequally yoked with non-believers. The choice of Hiram set in motion many evils in his kingdom.

A similar issue for Solomon was the "affinity" with Pharaoh and the marriage of Pharaoh’s daughter. Both of these events set Solomon’s mind that it is safe to relate to idolatrous nations and enter into emotionally vulnerable relationships. Again, this behavior was a violation of what God had instructed, a perception that one is wise enough to handle these things alone, and a slow turning away from the things of God for the things of the world.

As a result of Solomon’s affinity with Pharaoh he made a decision to purchase horses and chariots in direct contradiction to the instruction that God had granted Solomon in Deuteronomy 17:16. By doing these things Solomon showed contempt to the Word of God and it opened his thinking to the thinking of the world. He turned to have the idea that the weapons of the nations were better than the promises and protection of God. In addition, to support the purchase of horses, and all of the riders, and the barns, and feeding of the horses was a financial drain on the kingdom. It also taught the people that Solomon leaned on the arm of flesh rather than the arm of God.

Solomon was also instructed not greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:17. God knew that when man has an abundance of money then his awareness of his need for God decreases. As we have discussed in earlier articles Solomon accrued gold at the rate of 666 talents of gold in a year. I Kings 10:14. He made gold some common in Israel that silver was considered like brass or wood – a cheap and common substance. This attitude set up the idea of extravagance and waste in the land as well as in Solomon’s own mind. He left the simple things of life and indulged in the vanity of money and pomp and circumstance. It appears that Solomon did not study how to use money and resources in a manner that reflected the virtues of frugality and simplicity. Solomon also did not study how to use these monies to take care of the poor that God has promised would always be with us, nor did Solomon use these monies to spread the gospel to the world. Solomon used the money for buildings and to maintain the splendor of his court.

It appears that as Solomon continued down the path of riches and glory that he began to think more highly of himself than what was wise for him. It appears that he began to think that he was wise in and of himself, that he had no accountability for this gift of wisdom to God. The natural heart always tends toward vanity and it appears that his vanity was indulged to the highest point. Ecclesisates 2:1-11

As Solomon continue to build buildings and continued to develop display and ornamentation as a way of life, he needed to augment the income for the kingdom and began to turn to taxation of the people. This increased the burden of the people but was tolerable to some extent because of all the building in the land supporting the work of the people. But eventually the people became so tired of this that after the death of Solomon the people stoned Adoram who was in charge of the tribute gathering. I Kings 12:18

This whole business of taxing the people to support the extravagance of the court violated the principle of the cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7. God wanted His people to give to the support of the Temple service, out of the desires of their hearts as in the time of Moses. Exodus 35:21-22; 36:1-7; I Chronicles 29:1-14. Thus taxation was violation of the freedom of giving from the heart. Solomon initiated these taxes and thus his heart was growing hard due to errors in is personal theology regarding how God wanted to conduct the business of the state.

Another issue was that after a time, Solomon was willing to take credit for building the Temple of the Lord. This temple eventually began to be called Solomon’s temple rather than the Temple of the Lord, which God had allowed Solomon to build. This subtle shift was another of the many little steps that lead to the major decisions of life.

Finally, Solomon had grown so out of touch that he could violate God’s specific command not to marry many women. Not only did Solomon began to accumulate wives but his wives were not of Israel. We have no record of any of Solomon’s wives being from Israel. All of Solomon’s wives apparently were strange women. We have covered this issue of strange wives before in previous articles. But God had told Solomon not to do this for they would turn his heart, and they would introduce their belief systems into the pure religion of Israel. This they most certainly did. Solomon, in order to pacify his wives, began to build temples and altars to their gods, knowing full well that there is only One God, the God of Israel. Yet with this knowledge, and no protection, from God, Solomon opened the doors of Israel to all of the errors of the false religions of the world.

Thus Solomon’s heart was turned away from God and all of the evils that come with this decision happened in Israel. In the following articles I will discuss many of these errors and how these errors set things in motion that affect us to this very day. May God bless us as we study to find these issues ask God to remove these errors from our hearts and to help us find the truth and hold onto it for dear life. Amen.

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