Solomon’s Legacy: Good or Bad?
What first comes to mind when you think of King Solomon, who succeeded David as ruler of the kingdom of Israel? Is it his God-given wisdom? His incredible wealth? His many wives and concubines? What was Solomon’s legacy, both to the nation he ruled and down through history to us?
Consider it. A much-loved king, David, appointed him to the throne. Bringing order and consolidating control marked his early rule:
- pretenders to the throne were vanquished;
- a faithful high priest was installed;
- a just military leader was elevated;
- those who wronged his father were held accountable.
When he could have asked for money and power, he asked for wisdom instead. God gave him all three for his discerning choice.
He established peace with surrounding cities. He undertook the building of the first permanent temple for the Lord. He built a magnificent royal palace.
He spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs numbered 1,005. Men of all nations (and at least one queen!) came to listen to his wisdom. He received 666 talents of gold annually. A recent article estimates his net worth was $2.2 trillion dollars. (Bill Gates and his $40 billion of net worth would have been chump change.)
Solomon’s glory fades
Despite his incredible accomplishments, the Bible records his turning away from God. I was reading the story in II Kings recently and noticed this stunning section heading: Solomon’s glory fades.
The scriptures record simply that Solomon disobeyed God by marrying foreign women who worshiped foreign gods and that “…his heart turned after other gods.” (II Kings 11.4)
It’s no wonder that Solomon writes the book of Ecclesiastes and says, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem…and whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them…. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind…” (Ecclesiastes 2.9,10, 11)
When you consider Solomon’s legacy, how do you judge it? By all that he accomplished? What about by all that he wrote? Or by the wealth he accumulated? There’s also the issue of how his kingdom split apart under his son Rehoboam’s rule.
Clearly, Solomon’s legacy was mixed. But perhaps in the end we can remember him by the hard-earned wisdom that serves as a postscript to the book of Ecclesiastes: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12.13)
Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash