Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:12).
Solomon was the son of David and inherited his father’s throne. God appeared to him in a dream and told him to ask for what he wanted. Solomon could have had anything he desired but asked for wisdom and knowledge. Solomon began his reign over Israel with humility. He didn’t ask for riches, but God gave him riches and wealth and honor in addition to the wisdom. God was pleased with him. But did Solomon honor God? His life started well, but he got sidetracked.
Just after the Israelites had left Egypt, God gave them some rules for their future king that God would choose from among them.
“But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).
Solomon disobeyed every point in this verse.
“And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen” (1 Kings 4:26).
God was pretty specific in what was written in Deuteronomy, but Solomon didn’t seem to be paying attention.
“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 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. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3).
Take note here, God’s direction about not being unequally yoked is not a new concept to the New Testament. These pagan wives turned him to idol worship. Solomon was wise, but not very smart. He forgot to “fear God.”
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
This proverb holds a truth that cannot be questioned. The Hebrew word “yir’ah” is translated “fear” and regarding to our attitude toward God. It means “respect, reverence, piety. (Solomon wrote many, many proverbs, according to 1 Kings 4:32, he spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs.)
So Solomon was saying that if we are respecting and revering, that is where wisdom begins. Solomon had it all…wine, women, and song, as well as wealth. It seems as if during his life he got off track. His fear of the Lord waned and he lost his joy. He spoke pious words of wisdom but did not fear the Lord. King Solomon felt the uselessness of the pleasures of the world when he wrote:
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
The Hebrew word “hebel” is translated “vanity” and means “breath, vapor.” It seems he found passing pleasures but nothing that would last─nothing to find contentment in. After a life of trying everything under the sun, this is his conclusion: Frustration, futility, nonsense, even absurdity─all is vanity. At the end of his writing in Ecclesiastes, King Solomon wrote:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
He finally seems to have put his wisdom to use and concluded that the pleasures of this world are vanity…a vapor that doesn’t last. But to fear (respect) God is where our priority should be. Solomon was not happy in his life even though he had everything his heart desired and more.
What about us? How do we achieve contentment in this life? What must we do or have to reach the point where we are truly happy? Most people assume they would be content if they were rich. King Solomon had riches, but found little pleasure in his riches…they were all vanity.
When we look around at those individuals today who are rich, it doesn’t seem as if money is enough to make them happy. They always seem to need a little more. Just a little more money, a bit more alcohol, drugs, or sex will do the trick. All of these are vanity and any pleasure derived from them will not last. They are searching for something that seems to them to be elusive─it is all vanity. All they know is that they can’t quite get their hands on it. Contentment is just out of reach.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Nothing of the world can give us true, lasting contentment. It is all a vapor…it is all vanity. Well then, what will fill our lives with happiness? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they, which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
The Greek word “makarios” is translated “blessed” and means “blessed, happy.” As we read through these verses it is hard for our human minds to understand how we can be happy if we mourn, or if we are persecuted. Like Solomon we usually look to the vanity of passing pleasures and expect to be happy. We want to be content and filled with a sense of security as we go through life but we don’t look to God for guidance.
Jesus pointed out that our happiness is not based on human ideas that are fleeting, but on a daily walk with God. If we truly hunger and thirst for righteousness we will be filled. We will be content. If men revile us and persecute us because we love Jesus and are not ashamed, we need to rejoice because heaven is real and our reward will be great. Each of these Beatitudes should be studied and applied to our daily walk. Then we will find peace and contentment that money cannot buy.
Is it wrong to be rich and/or famous? No, it isn’t wrong. God gave Solomon what he asked for, but then He added more to what Solomon had asked “…and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:12).
God was pleased to give Solomon more than he asked. If Solomon had used God’s gifts wisely, not only would he have given happiness to others, he would have had much more contentment in his life. Solomon basically ruined his life by making poor choices. Although he had acquired much knowledge, experience, and wisdom, he came to the conclusion that it is all vanity. Through mistakes, bad decisions, and foolishness Solomon finally came up with the only true meaning of life. By the end of his life he attributed his entire existence to God. How much happier would he have been if he would have obeyed God and appreciated God’s gifts to him from the beginning.
Christians are given gifts: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Paul also tells of other gifts given by God which are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, mercy as listed in Romans chapter 12. In Ephesians 4:11 we are also told that some are given the gift to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God gives many gifts. All of these gifts are to be used: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).
God gives each of us at least one of these gifts, but how do we use our gifts? Do we spend time scratching our heads and asking God to show us what gift we have been given, or do we set about serving God and allowing whatever gift we have to become known? Do we know that we have a certain gift but want a different one? Use what God has given to you and serve Him, then contentment will follow because you are serving God on His terms. Don’t expect to get rich from the gifts. What God has given freely should be used freely.
What is the greatest gift of all? God gave Himself. God stepped into His creation as a man to save mankind from eternal death.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Can you ask for more? Is there anything that can top that?
There is no gift that is more valuable.
Jesus Christ paid our sin-debt in full. He left heaven, stepped into His creation, and conquered death for me, you, for the entire world. And this gift is free. This precious gift is freely given, but you have to accept the gift. It isn’t forced upon anyone, but it is silly to reject it. No, not silly…ignorant.
Eternal life is available to each of us, but if anyone rejects that gift it means an eternity of death. Yes, everyone lives forever, but only accepting Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection will it mean eternity with Him. It is a personal choice each person has to make for himself.
How can we obtain happiness or contentment while living in a fallen world? By accepting the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ. By placing our faith and our trust in Him, and believing in Him who sent Jesus to dwell among us, we will have what Solomon finally realized by the end of his life. God is the answer. Jesus Christ is God Almighty, our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Savior. He’s KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Hallelujah! Again, I say hallelujah!
This wonderful gift of salvation is to be shared. Just before Jesus was received into heaven He gave the command:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 6:15).
And so they did. Because they obeyed Jesus the gospel was shared. Now, all these many years later, this gift is still being shared. It is still free, but has to be accepted by each person individually. If your father is a Christian that is wonderful, but God doesn’t have grandchildren…only children.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
You have to accept this gift for yourself because your father, mother, aunt, uncle, or grandparent cannot do it for you.
Don’t be like Solomon and look back on your life as vanity. Come to the cross of Christ today; lay your burdens down at His feet. Jesus Christ wants to take your troubles, your pains, and your sorrows. He’s waiting: Talk to Him.
Turn your life over to Him. You won’t be sorry. No one who is truly born-again is ever sorry for the decision they made when they asked Jesus Christ to come into their lives. Thusly you’ll have found true happiness.
God bless you all,