Solomon. His name evokes the very essence of wisdom.
The closest Israel ever gets to the Messianic ideal of being a light to all nations is during his reign. Peace, prosperity and a unique leadership role are established. His wisdom is often credited to his style of judgment. Solomon’s ability to discern right and wrong was a gift from God. You may read more from I Kings 3.
Solomon ultimately fulfilled his father’s dream. A permanent place to worship God was built. Afterwards, Israel skyrocketed into an unprecedented time of blessing and Israel developed a reputation as a nation that honored God and followed his way of life.
However, Solomon’s heart turned from God. Wealth was brought to Solomon in ways that may be difficult for us to comprehend. ‘The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold.’ I Kings 10:14. (NRSV) A reckless pursuit of more cast a shadow over his heart. As a king, Solomon had experienced and done everything under the sun but in the end he found it all meaningless.
In his book, Immortal Diamond: The Search for our True Self, Richard Rohr wrestles with our present-day challenges with the reckless pursuit of more. His favorite quote is from Thomas Merton, “If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: be anything you like…but at all costs avoid one thing: success. If you are too obsessed with success you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life will be totally wasted.” (page 7)
Maybe Solomon’s wisdom is best expressed not in his administration of justice but understood by reading his final words from Ecclesiastes. ‘The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NRSV