We Must Learn From Those Who Lived Before Us
INTERESTING FACTS : JAMES IREDELL, RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NORTH CA ROLINA; U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON
"FOR MY PART, I AM FREE AND READY ENOUGH TO DECLARE THAT I THINK THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS A DIVINE INSTITUTION; AND I PRAY TO GOD THAT I MAY NEVER FORGET THE PRECEPTS OF HIS RELIGION OR SUFFER THE APPEARANCE OF AN INCONSISTENCY IN MY PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE"
DAILY READING : 2 CHRONICLES 6 - 8; 9 - 12; 13 - 17
TEXT : 2Ch 9:30 And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 2Ch 9:31 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
THEME : THE LIFE OF SOLOMON
Since Solomon is one of the most prominent kings of Israel, and the chapters for these readings cover some aspects of his life, I include here a complete outline of his life from the International Biblical Encyclopedia.
I. Early Life.
Solomon was the son of David and Bath-sheba, and became the 3rd king of Israel.
1. Name and Meaning:
He was so named by his mother (2Sa_12:24, Ḳe rē; see TEXT), but by the prophet Nathan, or by his father (Vulgate), he was called Jedidiah - "loved of Yahweh." The name "Solomon" is derived from the root meaning "to be quiet" or "peaceful," and Solomon was certainly the least warlike of all the kings of Israel or Judah, and in that respect a remarkable contrast to his father (so 1Ch_22:9). His name in Hebrew compares with Irenaeus in Greek, Friedrich in German, and Selim in Arabic; but it has been suggested that the name should be pronounced shı̄llumah, from the word denoting "compensation," Bath-sheba's second son being given in compensation for the loss of the first (but see 3, below).
The oldest sources for the biography of Solomon are doubtless the "Annals of Solomon" referred to in 1Ki_11:41, the "history of Nathan the prophet," the "prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite" an d the "visions of Iddo the seer," mentioned in 2Ch_9:29, all which may be merely the relative sections of the great book of the "Annals of the Kings" from which our Books of Kings and Chronicles are both derived. These ancient works are, of course, lost to us save in so far as they have been embodied in the Old Testament narrative. There the life of South is contained in 2Sa_12:24 f; 1 Ki 1 through 11; 1 Ch 22 through 2 Ch 9. Of these sources 2Sa_12:24 f and 1 Ki 1; 2 are much the oldest and in fact form part of one document, 2 Sam 9 through 20; 1 Ki 1; 2 dealing with the domestic affairs of David, which may well be contemporary with the events it describes. The date of the composition of the Books of Chronicles is about 300 BC - 700 years after the time of Solomon - and the date of the Books of Kings, as a completed work, must, of course, be later than the exile. Nothing of importance is gained from citations from early historians in Josephus and later writers. Far and away the best source for, at least, the inner life of Solomon would be the writings ascribed to him in the Old Testament, could we be sure that these were genuine (see below).
3. Birth and Upbringing:
The children of David by Bath-sheba are given in 1Ch_3:5 as Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. Compare also 2Sa_5:14; 1Ch_14:4, where the same persons evidently are named. It would thus appear that Solomon was the 4th son of Bath-sheba, supposing Shimea to be the child that died. Otherwise Solomon would be the 5th son. There are therefore some events omitted in 2Sa_12:24 f, or else the names Shobab and Nathan are remains of some clause which has been lost, and not proper names. Like the heir apparent of a Turkish sultan, Solomon seems to have spent his best years in the seclusion of the harem. There he was doubtless more influenced by his mother than by his father, and in close intimacy with his mother was the prophet Nathan, who had given him his by-name of fortunate import (2Sa_12:25).
4. His Accession:
It was not until David lay on his deathbed that Solomon left the women's quarters and made his appearance in public. That he had been selected by David, as the son of the favorite wife, to succeed him, is pre-supposed in the instructions which he received from his father regarding the building of the Temple. But as soon as it appeared that the life of David was nearing its end, it became evident that Solomon was not to have a "walk over." He found a rival in Adonijah the son of Haggith, who was apparently the eldest surviving son of his father, and who had the support of Joab, by far the strongest man of all, of Abiathar, the leading, if not the favorite, priest (compare 2Sa_15:24 ff), and of the princes of the royal house. Solomon, on the other hand, had the support of his mother Bath-sheba, David s favorite wife, of Nathan the court prophet, of Zadok who had eclipsed Abiathar, of Benaiah, the son of a priest, but one of the three bravest of David's soldiers, and captain of the bodyguard of Cherethites and Pelethites, and of the principal soldiers. It is especially noted that Shimei and Hushai (so Josephus) took no active part at any rate with Adonijah (1Ki_1:8). The conspiracy came to nothing, for, before it developed, Solomon was anointed at Gibeon (not Gihon, 1Ki_1:33, 1Ki_1:38, 1Ki_1:45), and entered Jerusalem as king.
5. Closing Days of David:
The age of Solomon at his accession is unknown. The expression in 1Ki_3:7 is not, of course, to be taken literally (otherwise Ant., VIII, vii, 8). His reign opened, like that of many an oriental monarch, with a settlement in blood of the accounts of the previous reign. Joab, David's nephew, who had brought the house within the bounds of blood revenge, was executed. Adonijah, as soon as his father had breathed his last, was on a nominal charge put to death. Abiathar was relegated to his home at Anathoth (1Ki_2:26). Conditions were imposed on Shimei which he failed to keep and so forfeited his life (1Ki_2:36 ff). These steps having been taken, Solomon began his reign, as it were, with a clean slate.
II. Reign of Solomon.
1. His Vision:
It was apparently at the very beginning of his reign that Solomon made his famous choice of a "hearing heart," i.e. an obedient heart, in preference to riches or long life. The vision took place at Gibeon (2Ch_1:7, but in 1Ki_3:4 f the ancient versions read "upon the altar that was in Gibeon. And the Lord appeared," etc.). The life of Solomon was a curious commentary on his early resolution. One of the first acts of his reign was apparently, in the style of the true oriental monarch, to build himself a new palace, that of his father being inadequate for his requirements. In regard to politics, however, the events of Solomon's reign may be regarded as an endorsement of his choice. Under him alone was the kingdom of Israel a great world-power, fit almost to rank beside Assyria and Egypt. Never again were the bounds of Israel so wide; never again were north and south united in one great nation. There is no doubt that the credit of this result is due to the wisdom o f Solomon.
2. His Policy:
Solomon was by nature an unwarlike person, and his whole policy was in the direction of peace. He disbanded the above-mentioned foreign legion, the Cherethites and Pelethites, who had done such good service as bodyguard to his father. All his officers seem to have been mediocre persons who would not be likely to force his hand, as Joab had done that of David (2Sa_3:39). Even the fortification of Jerusalem and of the frontier towns was undertaken with a view to repel attack, not for the purposes of offense. Solomon did, no doubt, strengthen the army, especially the cavalry arm (1Ki_4:26; 1Ki_10:26), but he never made any use of this, and perhaps it existed largely on paper. At any rate Solomon seems to have been rather a breeder of and dealer in horse-flesh than a soldier. He appears also to have had a fine collection of armor (1Ki_10:25), but much of it was made of gold (1Ki_10:16 f) and was intended for show, not for use. Both in his reputation for wisdom and in his aversion to war Solomon bears a striking resemblance to King James VI of Scotland and I of England, as depicted by the hand of Sir Walter Scott. It was fortunate for him that both the neighboring great powers were for the time in a decadent state, otherwise the history of the kingdom of Israel would have ended almost before it had begun. On the other hand, it has been remarked that if Solomon had had anything like the military genius of David and his enthusiasm for the religion of Yahweh, he might have extended the arms of Israel from the Nile to the Tigris and anticipated the advent of Islam. But his whole idea was to secure himself in peace, to amass wealth and indulge his love of grandeur with more than oriental splendor.
3. Its Results:
Solomon, in fact, was living on the achievements and reputation of his father, who laid the basis of security and peace on which the commercial genius of Solomon could raise the magnificent structure which he did. But he took the clay from t he foundations in order to build the walls. The Hebrews were a military people and in that consisted their life. Solomon withdrew their energies from their natural bent and turned them to commerce, for which they were not yet ripe. Their soul rebelled under the irksome drudgery of an industry of which they did not reap the fruits. Solomon had in fact reduced a free people to slavery, and concentrated the wealth of the whole country in the capital. As soon as he was out of the way, his country subjects threw off the yoke and laid claim to their ancient freedom. His son found himself left with the city and a territory as small as an English county.
4. Alliance with Tyre:
Solomon's chief ally was Hiram, the king of Tyre, probably the friend and ally of David, who is to be distinguished from Hiram the artificer of 1Ki_7:13 ff. Hiram the king entered into a treaty with Solomon which was to the advantage of both parties. Hiram supplied Solomon with cedar and pine wood from Lebanon, as well as w ith skilled artisans for his building. Tyrian sailors were also drafted into the ships of Solomon, the Hebrews not being used to the sea (1Ki_9:26 f), besides which Phoenician ships sailed along with those of Solomon. The advantages which Hiram received in return were that the Red Sea was open to his merchantmen, and he also received large supplies of corn and oil from the land of Israel (1Ki_5:11 corrected by Septuagint and 2Ch_2:10). At the conclusion of the building of the palace and Temple, which occupied 20 years, Solomon presented Hiram with 20 villages (1Ki_9:11; the converse, 2Ch_8:2), and Hiram made Solomon a return present of gold (1Ki_9:14; omitted in 2 Chronicles).
5. Alliance with Egypt:
Second to Hiram was the Pharaoh of Egypt, whose daughter Solomon married, receiving as her dower the town of Gezer (1Ki_9:16). This Pharaoh is not named in the Old Testament. This alliance with Egypt led to the introduction of horses into Israel (1Ki_10:28 f), though David had already made a beginning on a small scale (2Sa_8:4). Both these alliances lasted throughout the reign. There is no mention of an alliance with the eastern power, which was then in a decadent state.
6. Domestic Troubles:
It was probably nearer the beginning than the end of Solomon's reign that political trouble broke out within the realm. When David had annexed the territory of the Edomites at the cost of the butchery of the male population (compare 2Sa_8:14; Psa_60:1-12, title) one of the young princes of the reigning house effected his escape, and sought and found an asylum in Egypt, where he rose to occupy a high station. No sooner had he heard of the death of David and Joab than he returned to his native country and there stirred up disaffections against Solomon (1Ki_11:14 ff; see HADAD), without, however, restoring independence to Edom (1Ki_9:26). A second occasion of disaffection arose through a prophet having foretold that the successor of Solomon would have one of the Israelite tribes only and that the other ten clans would be under Solomon's master of works whom he had set over them. This officer also took refuge in Egypt and was protected by Shishak. He remained there until the death of Solomon (1Ki_11:26 ff). A third adversary was Rezon who had fled from his master the king of Zobah (1Ki_11:23), and who established himself at Damascus and rounded a dynasty which was long a thorn in the side of Israel. These domestic troubles are regarded as a consequence of the falling away of Solomon from the path of rectitude, but this seems to be but a kind of anticipative consequence, that is, if it was not till the end of his reign that Solomon fell into idolatry and polytheism (1Ki_11:4).
III. His Buildings.
1. The Temple:
The great undertaking of the reign of Solomon was, of course, THE TEMPLE (which see), whic h was at first probably considered as the Chapel Royal and an adjunct of the palace. The Temple was begun in the 4th year of the reign and finished in the 11th, the work of the building occupying 7« years (1 Ki 6; 1Ki_7:13 ff). The delay in beginning is remarkable, if the material were all ready to hand (1 Ch 22). Worship there was inaugurated with fitting ceremony and prayers (1 Ki 8).
2. The Palace:
To Solomon, however, his own palace was perhaps a more interesting undertaking. It at any rate occupied more time, in fact 13 years (1Ki_7:1-12; 1Ki_9:10; 2Ch_8:1), the time of building both palace and Temple being 20 years. Possibly the building of the palace occupied the first four years of the reign and was then intermitted and resumed after the completion of the Temple; but of this there is no indication in the text. It was called the House of the Forest of Lebanon from the fact that it was lined with cedar wood (1Ki_7:2). A description of it is given in 1Ki_7:1-12.
3. Other Buildings:
Solomon also rebuilt the wall of the city and the citadel (see JERUSALEM; MILLO). He likewise erected castles at the vulnerable points of the frontiers - Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer (1Ki_9:15), lower Beth-horon and BAALATH (which see). According to the Ḳerē of 1Ki_9:18 and the ancient versions as well as 2Ch_8:4, he was the founder of Tadmor (Palmyra); but the Kethı̄bh of 1Ki_9:18 reads Tamar (compare Eze_47:19). Some of the remains of buildings recently discovered at Megiddo and Gezer may go back to the time of Solomon.
4. The Corvee:
Solomon could not have built on the scale he did with the resources ordinarily at the com mand of a free ruler. Accordingly we find that one of the institutions fostered by him was the corvee, or forced labor. No doubt something of the kind always had existed (Jos_9:21) and still exists in all despotic governments. Thus the people of a village will be called on to repair the neighboring roads, especially when the Pasha is making a progress in the neighborhood. But Solomon made the thing permanent and national (1Ki_5:13-15; 1Ki_9:15). The immediate purpose of the levy was to supply laborers for work in the Lebanon in connection with his building operations. Thus 30,000 men were raised and drafted, 10,000 at a time, to the Lebanon, where they remained for a month, thus having two months out of every three at home. But even when the immediate cause had ceased, the practice once introduced was kept up and it became one of the chief grievances which levi to the dismemberment of the kingdom (1Ki_12:18, Adoram = Adoniram; compare 2Sa_20:24), for hitherto the corvee had been confined to foreign slaves taken in war (1Ki_9:21). It is said the higher posts were reserved for Israelites, the laborers being foreigners (1Ki_9:22), that is, the Israelites acted as foremen. Some of the foreign slaves seem to have formed a guild in connection with the Temple which lasted down to the time of the exile (Ezr_2:55-57; Neh_7:57-59 ).
IV. His Character.
1. Personal Qualities:
In Solomon we have the type of a Turkish sultan, rather than a king of Israel. The Hebrew kings, whether of Israel or Judah, were, in theory at least, elective monarchs like the kings of Poland. If one happened to be a strong ruler, he managed to establish his family it might be, for three or even four generations. In the case of the Judean dynasty the personality of the first king made such a deep impression upon the heart of the people that the question of a change of dynasty there never became pressing. But Solomon would probably have usurped the crown if he had not inherited it, and once on the throne he became a thoroughgoing despot. All political power was taken out of the hands of the sheiks, although outward respect was still paid to them (1Ki_8:1), and placed in th e hands of officers who were simply creatures of Solomon. The resources of the nation were expended, not on works of public utility, but on the personal aggrandizement of the monarch (1Ki_10:18 ff). In the means he took to gratify his passions he showed himself to be little better than a savage and if he did not commit such great crimes as David, it was perhaps because he had no occasion, or because he employed greater cunning in working out his ends.
2. His Wisdom:
The wisdom for which Solomon is so celebrated was not of a very high order; it was nothing more than practical shrewdness, or knowledge of the world and of human nature. The common example of it is that given in 1Ki_3:16 ff, to which there are innumerable parallels in Indian, Greek and other literatures. The same worldly wisdom lies at the back of the Book of Proverbs, and there is no reason why a collection of these should not have been made by Solomon just as it is more likely that he was a composer of verses than that he wa s not (1Ki_4:32). The statement that he had breadth of heart (1Ki_4:29) indicates that there was nothing known which did not come within his ken.
3. His Learning:
The word "wisdom," however, is used also in another connection, namely, in the sense of theoretical knowledge or book leaning, especially in the department of natural history. It is not to be supposed that Solomon had any scientific knowledge of botany or zoology, but he may have collected the facts of observation, a task in which the Oriental, who cannot generalize, excels. The wisdom and understanding (1Ki_4:29) for which Solomon was famous would consist largely in stories about beasts and trees like the well-known Fables of Pilpai. They included also the "wisdom" for which Egypt was famous (1Ki_4:30), that is, occult science. It results from this last statement that Solomon appears in post-Biblical and Arabian literature as a magician.
4. Trade and Commerce:
Solomon was very literally a merchant prince. He not only encouraged and protected commerce, but engaged in it himself. He was in fact the predominant, if not sole, partner in a great trading concern, which was nothing less than the Israelite nation. One of his enterprises was the horse trade with Egypt. His agents bought up horses which were again sold to the kings of the Hittites and the Arameans. The prices paid are mentioned (1Ki_10:29). The best of these Solomon no doubt retained for his own cavalry (1Ki_10:26). Another commodity imported from that country was linen yarn (1Ki_10:28 the King James Version). The navy which Solomon built at the head of the Gulf of Akaba was not at all for military, but purely commercial ends. They were ships of Tarshish, that is, merchant ships, not ships to Tarshish, as 2Ch_9:21. They traded to OPHIR (which see), from which they brought gold; silver, ivory, apes and peacocks, the round voyage lasting 3 years (1Ki_9:26 ff; 1Ki_10:22). Special mention is made of "almug" (1Ki_10:11) or "algum" (2Ch_9:10 f) trees (which see). The visit of the Queen of Sheba would point to the overland caravan routes from the Yemen being then open (1Ki_10:15). What with direct imports and the result of sales, silver and cedar wood became very plentiful in the capital (1Ki_10:27).
5. Officers of State:
The list of Solomon's officers of state is given in 1Ki_4:2 ff. These included a priest, two secretaries, a recorder, a commander-in-chief, a chief commissariat officer, a chief shepherd (if we may read ro'eh for re'eh), a master of the household, and the head of the corvee. The list should be compared with those of David's officers (2Sa_8:16 ff; 2Sa_20:23 ff). There is much resemblance, but we can see that the machine of state was becoming more complicated. The bodyguard of foreign mercenaries was abolished and the captain Benaiah promoted to be commander-in-chief. Two scribes were required instead of one. Twelve commissariat officers were appointed whose d uty it was to forward from their districts the supplies for the royal household and stables. The list of these officials, a very curious one, is given in 1Ki_4:7 ff. It is to be noted that the 12 districts into which the country was divided did not coincide with the territories of the 12 tribes. It may be remarked that Solomon seems as far as possible to have retained the old servants of his father. It will be noticed also that in all the lists there is mention of more than one priest. These "priests" retained some of their original functions, since they acted as prognosticators and diviners.
Solomon's principal wife was naturally the daughter of Pharaoh; it was for her that his palace was built (1Ki_3:1; 1Ki_7:8; 1Ki_9:16, 1Ki_9:24). But in addition to her he established marriage relations with the neighboring peoples. In some cases the object was no doubt to cement an alliance, as with the Zidonians and Hittites and the other nationalities (1Ki_11:1), som e of which were forbidden to Israelites (Deu_7:3). It may be that the daughter of Pharaoh was childless or died a considerable time before Solomon, but his favorite wife was latterly a grand-daughter of Nahash, the Ammonite king (1Ki_14:21 Septuagint), and it was her son who succeeded to the throne. Many of Solomon's wives were no doubt daughters of wealthy or powerful citizens who wished by an alliance with the king to strengthen their own positions. Yet we do not read of his marrying an Israelite wife. According to the Arabian story Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1Ki_10:1 ff),. was also married to him. He appears to have had only one son; we are not told of any other than Rehoboam. His daughters were married to his own officers (1Ki_4:11, 1Ki_4:15).
Solomon is said to have started his reign with a capital sum of 100,000 talents of gold and a million talents of silver, a sum greater than the national debt of Great Britain. Even so, this huge sum was ear-mark ed for the building of the Temple (1Ch_22:14). His income was, for one year, at any rate, 666 talents of gold (1Ki_10:14), or about twenty million dollars. This seems an immense sum, but it probably was not so much as it looks. The great mass of the people were too poor to have any commodities which they could exchange for gold. Its principal use was for the decoration of buildings. Its purchasing power was probably small, because so few could afford to buy it. It was in the same category as the precious stones which are of great rarity, but which are of no value unless there is a demand for them. In the time of Solomon there was no useful purpose to which gold could be put in preference to any other metal.
8. Literary Works:
It is not easy to believe that the age of Solomon, so glorious in other respects, had not a literature to correspond. Yet the reign of the sultan Ismail in Morocco, whom Solomon much resembles, might be cited in favor of such a supposition. Solomon himself is stat ed to have composed 3,000 animal stories and 1, 005 songs (1Ki_4:32). In the Old Testament the following are ascribed to him: three collections of Proverbs, Pro_1:1 ff; Pro_10:1 ff; Pro_25:1 ff; The Song of Songs; Psalms 72 and Psa_127:1-5; Ecclesiastes (although Solomon is not named). In Pro_25:1 the men of Hezekiah are said to have copied out the following proverbs.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "WE MUST LEARN FROM THOSE WHO LIVED BEFORE US!"
In the following verses from 2nd Chronicles chapter 7, we observe an important truth about God's promises based on Man's response and obedience.
2Ch 7:16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. 2Ch 7:17 And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; 2Ch 7:18 Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. 2Ch 7:19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; 2Ch 7:20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast o ut of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. 2Ch 7:21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? 2Ch 7:22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.
Again, we come across the troublesome and challenging word - "if." I mention here as I did previously, some see God as initiating all the activities of Man [with regard to salvation] and stating Man has no active choice in his response to God. Others, go completely in the other direction openly stating or tacitly implying that everything is on Man in his relationship to God. However, the Bible presents both sides of the coin in the doctrine of the faith that leads to salvation. One side without the other is half the story.
Still, the word "if" is the challenge. Solomon with all his wisdom and accomplishments eventually departed from the LORD, primarily by his intermarriage with foreign wives who lead his heart away from the LORD.
1Ki 11:1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 1Ki 11:2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 1Ki 11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 1Ki 11:4 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. 1Ki 11:5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 1Ki 11:6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 1Ki 11:7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 1Ki 11:8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 1Ki 11:9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 1Ki 11:10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 1Ki 11:11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
We will never know what would have become of Solomon's kingdom if he had stayed true to God. Nevertheless, Solomon did depart from the LORD, and the kingdom was divided between the ten nort hern tribes [Israel] and the two southern tribes [Judah; consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin]. Solomon had a good start with the LORD, but an obvious tragic finish. He died a disillusioned old man as we read in Ecclesiastes. The most prominent and imposing statement of that Book is the word - "vanity." Further, Solomon states that "all is vanity." That is, life is empty and futile when you do not obey the LORD and serve Him.
Thus, Solomon writes -
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecc 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Thus, it seems Solomon in the end, received back t he wisdom he once possessed. Still, his legacy of all that he did with God, juxtaposed against what happened to him without God is a lesson for you. The Apostle Paul wrote -
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Scriptural biographies give examples of what to emulate and what to avoid that we might have hope. The history of Man is replete with examples of not learning from the past. Therefore, as Santayana said, we are condemned to repeat it. The Church today has learned nothing of the past. We are repeating the same sins and misguided, blameworthy liabilities of past generations. However, there is hope for you. Obey God from start to finish. Never forget Him or [willingly] violate Him. This was the deception of Solomon. After an unparalleled life of blessing after blessing, he forgot the Source and Fount of all blessings - that is, the LORD. The refore, learn a lesson from Solomon. No matter how wise, no matter how dedicated, no matter how much you have already done in Christ's Name take heed lest you fall. Finish well as Jesus and the Apostles did. Evidently, they learned from the biographies of their ancestors and did not repeat their mistakes, but followed Jesus, all the way to His Kingdom.