2 Chronicles 9:22-23
"Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had put into his mind."
Solomon always leaves me with a conundrum. How can some of Scripture portray him as a shadow of the future Messiah and other passages present an entirely different picture? How can he be so wise and make such dumb decisions?
We first meet Solomon in 2 Samuel 12:24-25, "Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So, he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord." This birth occurs after the death of David and Bathsheba's first son (2 Samuel 12:15-19). His name means peace or peaceful. The Hebrew word for Solomon infers wholeness and unity, as in a restored relationship. David names his son as an acknowledgment of his thankfulness of a restored relationship with the LORD. The LORD responded with a name of His own for Solomon, Jedidiah, which means "beloved of the LORD."
My conundrum comes with passages like 1 Kings 11:4-11. Verse four says, "For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father." Even though the LORD appeared to him twice, Solomon failed to obey the LORD's instruction in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 where He told the Israelites to not intermarry with those in the Promised Land. God said if they did the sons will turn away from following him to serve other gods which would result in the LORD's anger.
Deuteronomy 17:16 says the king the LORD chooses to rule over Israel is not to acquire many horses or return to Egypt for that purpose. Verse seventeen says the king is not to have many wives, because his heart will turn away, nor is he to acquire excessive gold or silver. Solomon did all of these.
The meaning of the word used in 1 Kings 11:4 for "not wholly true" is the opposite of wholeness and unity, the meaning of Solomon's name. He was no longer at peace with God. Notice in verses 5-8 all the god's Solomon worshiped because of his foreign wives. Verse six says, "So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done."
In Matthew 12:42, Jesus uses the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon recorded at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 9, to condemn the Pharisees who rejected Him. "The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." He also says the Ninevites will condemn them. We know when the city of Nineveh heard Jonah's message of coming destruction, the entire city repented and God relented from bringing disaster. In 2 Chronicles 9:8, the Queen says, "Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” Is the Queen's acknowledgment of the LORD your God, used in the context of Matthew 12:42 an indication of her faith in comparison to the lack of faith exhibited by the Pharisees?
We are blessed to know Jesus is more excellent than Solomon. Solomon may have been the wisest man to live before Jesus, but Jesus is wisdom. "Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) Solomon knew the answer to all of the Queen's questions (2 Chronicles 9:2) but Jesus is the answer. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
All of my conundrums in understanding related to Solomon's standing before God, the Queen of Sheba's, the Ninevites, my own and all others find their answer in the closing prayer of Jude.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen