What if you were offered anything you wanted? What would you choose? Fast cars, money, a nice job, friends, a big house or a big boat. There was one man who was offered anything he wanted and he didn't pick any of those things. In fact, in not picking those things he ended up with most of them anyways. His name is King Solomon. Solomon didn't ask for anything that most people ask genies for. Solomon asked for wisdom. "So give your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil (I Kings 3:5a)." To many it would seem that in making such a wise request Solomon would have been successful until the day he died.
Unfortunately, as I Kings records that is not the case.
King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex and Power is a devotional walk through the book of 1 Kings as it pertains to the live and reign of King Solomon. Ryken presents the reader with the highs and lows of Solomon's life as king of Israel. We see first hand Solomon's successes and failures. Chapter by chapter we are brought face to face with how much our hearts are like Solomon's. How much we are tempted with the same vices of money, sex and power.
Ryken contends that Solomon's life represents that of the literary type of Ã¢â¬Ëtragedy' (p. 171). Solomon started off on making the right decisions but ended his life as the result of making bad decisions.
Solomon's Right Decision
Early on in 1 Kings God approaches Solomon and offers to give him anything he asks for (1 Kings 3:9-13). Solomon makes a wise choice and chooses wisdom. As a reward for his wise choice, God promises to give him "riches and honor (1 Kings 3:13-14)." Solomon would not only be the wisest man of his time but he would also be the richest and most sought after person.
Immediately following the reception of this God given wisdom we see Solomon using it to judge Israel. When Israel hears "of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer judgment (I Kings 3:28)." God's divine gift of wisdom to Solomon is evident to all and God is glorified in it. We have to stop and ask ourselves, "Is God glorified in the gifts He has given me?"
Though Solomon requested wisdom to judge the people God gave him much more than that. God gave Solomon riches beyond imagination. Unfortunately, Solomon's decision to ask for wisdom did not mean he always made the wisest choices.
The Temptation of Money
As it was with the rich young ruler that Jesus encountered in the NT so it was with Solomon. Solomon was enamored with riches and possessions. Though he was obedient and built the temple he also built a house for himself that was far beyond the expense of the temple. In the royal safe he had hundreds of gold shields and in his house he had the windows plated in gold. In fact, near the end of Solomon's rule 1 Kings 10:14 records for us how much money Solomon took in each year in gold alone: "The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents." Later in the text we see that Solomon amassed ships in which he brought home different kinds of exotic animals to have for himself (1 Kings 10:22). It was not the mere possession of these things that was sinful but rather that Solomon allowed them to turn his heart away from trusting God to trusting them.
The Temptation of Sex
Many people believe that Solomon did not have a problem with women until the end of his rule. This is definitely not the case. In fact, Solomon began his rule with women problems. In chapter 3 we see Solomon starting off his rule by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt. At the end of his rule in chapter 11 we see Solomon holding nothing back when it came to his desire for women and sex. The first three verses reveal for us how sinful Solomon's heart and actions were:
"Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart (1 Kings 11:1-3)."
As wise as Solomon was he played the fool when it came to women. Ironically, it was his lust for women that eventually turned his heart away from God and brought God's judgment on him.
The Temptation of Power
In conjunction with Solomon's desire for women was his desire for power. Many of the marriages Solomon had were primarily attempts at political alliances that would have no doubt brought Solomon protection and power. Not only did Solomon have political power but he had military power. 1 Kings 10: 26 tells us that Solomon had "1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem."
The life and rule of Solomon is truly a tragedy. One could only wonder if God's people would ever have a godly king that would follows God all of his life. Thankfully a better king was to come. In fact, the next king of Israel to come on the scene is the final promised king - King Jesus! Jesus is the true and better king of Israel!
Aren't you glad that Jesus is a better Solomon? That God's kingdom is not dependent upon a failing earthly human king but a dependable heavenly saving king Jesus Christ! The temporary kingdom Solomon built is a picture of the eternal kingdom God was going to build with Jesus Christ as its king. Solomon's successes give us a glimpse into the kingdom of God and his failures show us how much better Jesus will be as our king in God's kingdom.
King Solomon is a humbling reminder that we can all succumb to the temptations of power, sex and money. That an earthly king will always fail to meet the perfect demands of God and that Jesus is the only true king who is ruling at the right had of the Father waiting to consummate his rule over the whole world.
This is a good book about one of the most famous characters from the Old Testament. But it is much more than just a good book about the wealthiest and wisest of kings, it is also a cautionary book for us about idolatries of money, sex, and power. Any of these can destroy our lives just like they did for Solomon at various times. The author hopes that by examining Solomon and all of his failures we will be motivated to seek God and His Grace with our lives. I hope this book motivates you to do this as much as it did for me.
King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex, and Power is written by Philip Graham Ryken, the President of Wheaton College. In this book, Dr. Ryken explores the three themes of the life of Solomon: the love of money, the pleasures of sex, and the powers of an earthly kingdom. This is a well-written, biblical, Christ-centered, Gospel-saturated book that gets right to the point by addressing the heart of the matter man's sin and the hope of the Gospel.
One of the things I appreciated most about Dr. Ryken's approach whether he is preaching, teaching or writing is that he gets right to the point and helps the reader understand what he is saying. The life of Solomon has much to teach us but nothing greater than how his life points to Christ. Jesus makes this point in Luke 11:31, "Behold, something greater than Solomon is here." Solomon teaches us both what a life that fears God and a life that doesn't fear God looks like. Solomon's life also shows us what a life lived for pleasure for the sake of itself looks like.
Even with all that one can learn from the life of Solomon ultimately there is one greater than Solomon who has a greater kingdom than did Solomon. The kingdom greater than Solomon's kingdom is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is greater than Solomon as Jesus is the risen King, the true and righteous Solomon of the believer's salvation. By the power of His resurrection, the believer can serve God to the end of one's days. After death, the believer will rise with Solomon and all the children to offer the Savior an eternity of praise.
I recommend you pick up King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex and Power by Dr. Ryken and learn from the wisdom, sin and folly of Solomon. Reading this book will help you to learn how your own pursuit for money, sex, and power needs to be viewed through the lens of the Bible for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately this book will help you address heart attitudes you have towards money, sex and power issues that affect touch on every sphere of the believers' life. Addressing issues of the heart is never easy, but Dr. Ryken as a skilled Pastor, and scholar does so masterfully in this book, which is why I recommend you pick it up so that you can grow even more in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."