Week 24

Solomon has displayed his God-given wisdom and built the Temple in Jerusalem. Israel is at peace and a golden age has begun. How long will it last? Funny you should ask, because things are already starting to unravel. (You knew it would, didn’t you?)

True or false: Wisdom keeps you from ever making a mistake. Evidently that’s false, because Solomon is about to make a huge mistake. It seems strange to us that Solomon would be responsible for the largest resurgence of the worship of idols and foreign gods in generations. It seems impossible to reconcile God’s gift of holy wisdom with this kind of sin. What happened? For a variety of reasons, Solomon marries many women. The size of his harem is legendary, supposedly containing thousands of women. Some of these wives were the daughters of great rival kings. These marriages were like peace treaties between their respective kingdoms. Extravagance and opulence were signs of a king’s power in the ancient Near East. A huge harem was a sign of a very powerful king. This is not marriage as we understand it. This could not possibly be a content arrangement for these women, some of whom were from other lands and cultures. How shall Solomon keep the peace? He decides to allow them to worship in the same manner they worshipped back home. As a result, almost overnight, altars, idols and high places began to pop up all over Israel. Like a bad case of the flu, it spread like wildfire into the rest of Israel’s population. Israel was turning away from her God in shocking ways. In the end he realizes and regrets his mistakes.
We’re not sure exactly when Ecclesiastes was written. We don’t honestly know how old King Solomon was when he wrote these words. It is quite possible that these words were written near the end of his life. Gone is the confident optimism of wisdom. In its place is a sadder, wiser, more realistic view of the world. Ecclesiastes takes an almost cynical view of the world. Seeing all our pursuits as meaningless, Solomon strives to find what is most important. He searches in education and learning. He searches in pleasure and self-indulgence. He searches in greatness and fame. It is all fleeting. He is on a quest for what Rick Warren calls “God’s purposes in life.” What do you think the meaning of life is? What does Solomon conclude is the meaning of life? Do you agree with him?
We will read of the death of Solomon and his son who replaces him on the throne. This new son sets off yet another unforgettable chapter in the story of Israel.

Keep reading! I’ll see you in the Bible!

WEEK 24 Reading Schedule:
Jun 11 Proverbs 27-29 Proverbs
Jun 12 Ecclesiastes 1-6 The Meaning of Life
Jun 13 Ecclesiastes 7-12 The Meaning of Life
Jun 14 1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; Queen of Sheba, Solomon Turns from God
Jun 15 Psalms 49; 73; 78 Psalms
Jun 16 Proverbs 30-31 Wisdom
Jun 17 1 Kings 12-14 Rehoboam’s Folly, Kingdom Divided