Flawed Solomon

Flawed Solomon

Good Advice

When I step back and think about humanity’s existence in this world, I’m blown away when I try to fathom that humans have been walking this earth for thousands and thousands of years.

Each generation has walked through the same stages of life: from childhood into silly, risk-taking adolescence; and then, in early adulthood, we find our bearings, learn how to work, and begin families. We build our lives, raise our children, and watch our bodies slowly diminish. Then our children grow up and repeat these same stages, giving us grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This is a story as old as time, with millions and millions of families multiplying through generations, each person writing their own story and building their own life. That’s why we’ve all heard the proverb “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Yet, even though the generations before us have experienced life we have yet to conquer for ourselves, for some people, advice about how to live YOUR life is completely unwelcomed. Is this you? Do you have to learn the hard way? Or do you learn from and appreciate advice from others?

I’m finally getting to the point in life where I appreciate the advice of my elders. When you’re young, I think it’s normal to think you are the first person ever to deal with your particular issues. However, I have come to realize that my world isn’t completely different from those who have gone before me. Yes, technology has changed a lot of how life works, but people are still people. Because of this, I appreciate the wisdom and advice offered to me by those who have preceded me in life.

Wisdom is an incredible asset if you know what to do with it. It leads you to marry a partner who is your perfect complement. It leads to better financial decisions and incomes, and prevents major life blunders that wreck your plans for the future. Wisdom gives you a view of the world that guides all your decisions as to how you live your life.

Today we look at the wisest man who ever lived, the one who first penned “There is nothing new under the sun.” We will learn from his advice about finding meaning in life.

Our Wise Hero, Solomon

As we go through our series on Flawed Heroes of the Bible, we’ve seen some really important people in the Bible do some amazing things for God. What I appreciate most about this series is that it also shows us such a human aspect of the Bible. Nearly all the heroes in the Bible have major flaws. Just like us.

Our flawed hero of today is Solomon. He was a son of King David, whom we discussed several weeks ago. Remember that the affair between King David and Bathsheba produced a son who died in infancy. They later had another son together – Solomon. He became king at a young age and reigned over Israel at its peak in influence and military might.

Solomon is known as the wisest man to ever live. His entire story in the Bible centers on his wisdom.

1 Kings 3:5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 

Just like a kid being given a single wish! Think about your children – what do you think they would have asked for? Toys? Riches? To be president? It’s amazing how selfish a kid’s dreams can become when they are offered the desire of their heart.

1 Kings 3:9-12 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

Solomon understood the challenge of his role – leading God’s people – and he asked for wisdom to lead justly. This marks the beginning of Solomon’s life as the wise sage who dispenses advice.

With his wisdom Solomon wrote most of Proverbs, a few Psalms, and the books Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.

In Proverbs Solomon gives us such gems as:

Proverbs 21:9 NIVBetter to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 11:22 NIVLike a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

In 1 Kings 9 we read that the Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon to see his country and all he has built up for Jerusalem, including the palace and the temple. At the end of her visit she has this to say to him:

1 Kings 9:6-7 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.

Seeking Satisfaction

Unfortunately, although Solomon gained a great amount of wisdom and knew nearly everything about everything, the arc of his life shows that he never seemed to find the key to genuine, lifelong satisfaction.

Solomon’s search for satisfaction is the topic of his book Ecclesiastes. It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible, but it can be truly depressing. It continues the refrain “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.” (Or if you learned it in the King James Bible, “Vanity of vanities.”) In this book Solomon writes of his intentional search for wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-13 12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. 18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief

Sadly, the man who understood the thoughts of humans better than anyone before him found no satisfaction in his vast knowledge and endless learning. Instead, he faced an increase in sorrow and grief. He began to see the unfairness of life, the randomness of success, and the misery with which people treat each other.


Today, many of you constantly seek to learn something new. And something new is always available on the little screen we all carry in our pockets. You scroll through the news or social media, or watch endless videos on YouTube looking for one more piece of information that will scratch your satisfaction itch. It is never enough! There is always one more article, one more news story, one more video. And none of it actually makes you any happier or any more content. You never sit back after a long day of work and a longer day of scrolling and think, “I did it! I found what I was looking for, and now I’m satisfied.” While you may not have the wisdom of Solomon, many of you can relate to his endless pursuit of more and more information.


In Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 Solomon tells himself “I will test you with pleasure to find what is good.” But that also proves to be meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-8 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.

So if wisdom isn’t the answer, what about a heaping helping of worldly pleasure – the kind only kings of nations can afford? Solomon spent lavishly to create something that would give him a sense of satisfaction. 1 Kings 11 tells about all he acquired and constructed. It’s a massive list, but none of it ever felt like enough.

Even if Solomon could have had another hundred years of life, he still would never have owned enough to feel that he could stop. If you are searching for satisfaction in stuff, then no matter how much you own – how big your house is or how nice your truck – you will still be looking for something newer, bigger and better. When you finally buy it you will feel great for a moment; but before you know it you will feel empty. You will feel that you need just that one other thing. It’s a trap! You’ve fallen for it. Don’t fall for it again. Stuff can’t satisfy.


Ecclesiastes 2:22-23What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless

With wisdom and wealth not offering satisfaction, Solomon turned to the work of his hands and what he could achieve, but he realized that all he was working for would eventually be left to others after his death. Worse yet, when you are focused on work, and never step away from the task, your mind constantly thinks about your work and steals your sleep.

Does that sound familiar to any of you? Even you who are retired from the grind of work can remember, I’m sure, sleepless nights spent thinking about the seemingly infinite list of tasks to be accomplished the next day. The irony of those days is that if you happened to miss completing an important task, did it kill you? In the grand scope of life, is there a single day of work that made or broke your whole life? A little perspective is a powerful thing, even as I say these words and am forced to wrestle with them myself.


Ecclesiastes 2:8 I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart.

1 Kings 11:1, 3King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women . . . He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines.

Finally, Solomon turns to women. He’s looking for love (probably just lust). He likes all kinds for a moment, but, clearly, love isn’t in the cards for him. No single woman satisfies his longing for connection.

Many people spend their whole lives searching for the ONE who will satisfy their deepest longings. Sometimes they find the one; but then life happens, and that person no longer seems to be the one. So they go looking again. Marriages, divorces, affairs, pornography – you name it, and humans do it in the search for connection. Trying to find deep satisfaction, people leave a wake of broken relationships behind.

Sadly, after a lifetime of searching for satisfaction, Solomon concludes that all of it was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

What Happened?

It’s surprising that a young king, who loved God and asked for wisdom when he encountered God in a dream, would write such a depressing book as Ecclesiastes. He looked at all of life and didn’t see any redeeming parts to it all. It makes us wonder what happened from the beginning of his life to the end.

We know he started out honoring the ways his father, King David, had lived. He honored and obeyed the God of his father, David. Unfortunately, it was his love for women that was Solomon’s Achilles heel.

2 Kings 11:1-4 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love . . . and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

So Solomon, with all the wisdom of the world, failed to find satisfaction apart from God. In his later years he idolized wisdom, wealth, work and women. These creations became more than gifts from God, but became his God as he tried to find pleasure, joy, and satisfaction in these THINGS.

Not surprisingly, all these things let him down. I’m sure he found momentary happiness in all of them; but the lasting, genuine satisfaction of a life built on a firm foundation was clearly not what Solomon found. Instead, he called everything “meaningless.”

It’s almost as if Ecclesiastes was written by a grumpy old man who looks back at his life and realizes all of it was a waste. Well – almost all of it. While decrying everything in his life as meaningless, he writes a stunning final conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 

While Solomon may have walked away from God at the end of his life, being led astray by his foreign wives to their carved idols, his wisdom still pointed him back to one truth. Relationship with God is the only thing of any eternal value. By comparison, everything else you do in this life is meaningless.

Listen Up

Back to the idea of advice. King Solomon was widely regarded as a genius for his knowledge, understanding, and ability to apply his wisdom to real-life situations. He spent his lifetime trying to find what would give him the greatest satisfaction.

Solomon came to a conclusion, and it’s not a subjective conclusion that applies only to him based on his preferences. This isn’t just Solomon’s Truth. This is true for all people who want to find satisfaction in life: Love God; honor and obey Him. In Solomon’s lifetime experiment, he found that nothing else even matters.

I know some of you are closer to your swan song than to the busy years of your life when you make decisions that will set the trajectory of your life. For you in this group, I know it is a lot easier for you to believe this is the conclusion of the study.

For you teenagers, young adults, and busy young parents, I know this world has much to draw your attention away from God. Solomon had wives who worshiped pagan gods. You have social media, and jobs, and non-stop kids’ activities. Regardless of those differences, Solomon’s advice still holds: don’t let those things pull you away from God. None of that actually matters at the end of your life. Only one thing does – your relationship with the only Life-giver.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

That’s what we all want – life to the full. A relationship with Jesus is the only way.

If you’ve given your life to Jesus and find meaning, joy and satisfaction in a life lived to glorify God, then keep going. Don’t get pulled away and distracted as Solomon did.

If you’ve given your life to Jesus but right now you don’t feel very satisfied, ask yourself if the allure of wisdom, wealth, work or women has taken your eyes off Jesus. If so, I encourage you to repent and turn back to the source of genuine, lifelong satisfaction. Make Jesus your number-one priority again.

If you have been seeking joy and satisfaction in life but the joy has consistently eluded you, then I ask you if you are ready to give your life to Jesus today. Are you ready to admit, like Solomon, that apart from a relationship with God, nothing in this life will ever satisfy you? If that’s you, I encourage you to speak with me or one of our elders.

I know some of you prefer to learn by trying and failing at life yourselves, but this is one time when we should all welcome the advice of Solomon and follow his conclusion. Of all the options this world affords us, only one thing matters – our relationship with God. Start it. Grow it. Hold on to it through your whole life. That’s the key to happiness.


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