How does a person go from being the wisest, richest, most powerful and popular person on the planet to full-blown depression? Ask King Solomon. He made the trip and wrote a book about the journey and the lessons learned along the way. He called it Ecclesiastes. And, amazing as it may sound, God included the book in His Book, the Bible.
When King David’s son, Solomon, became king of Israel, God appeared to him with an amazing, ‘too good to be true’, offer. In I Kings 3 we read that God said to Solomon, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you.” Wow! What an unprecedented opportunity! Solomon responded by asking for wisdom to be a good king and his prayer request pleased the LORD. So much so, that God not only made him the wisest man who would ever live (aside from Jesus), but he also granted him more wealth, power, respect and security than any other ruler before or since! Talk about having it all! If Solomon had used social media, he would have posted “#blessed!” Why then do we read in the opening lines of Ecclesiastes, “Everything is meaningless! Completely meaningless!”? He follows this shocking statement with 12 chapters of detailed, logical (and depressing) analysis of why everything that could be considered good in this life is, in his words, “Meaningless.” What happened?
The answer is found in I Kings 11. There we learn that God warned against and clearly forbid marrying unbelieving women, “Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway.” So, there you have it – the beginning of the end of a blessed life. Disobedience to God’s Word turned the best life imaginable into a “meaningless” existence. This truth of the life-sapping effects of disobedience to God is found throughout the pages of Scripture, from mankind’s first sin in Genesis 3 to Paul’s clear statement in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” When we say “No” to God we say “Yes” to sin and to all of its deadly consequences.
Shedding even more light on Solomon’s downward spiral is the instructions given to Moses by God specifically for Israel’s kings. Deuteronomy 17:16-20 forbids any king of Israel from amassing large quantities of silver, gold, horses, AND wives! Solomon gathered absurd amounts of all of these! But saddest of all to me is the simple instructions contained in this passage that, if followed, could have prevented the great king’s precipitous fall. Here it is: the king was to have a copy of God’s Word and read it DAILY. “This regular reading” would prevent the tragic consequences of pridefully rejecting God’s ways to follow his own.
So, what can you and I learn from Solomon’s royal disaster? Just this, the greatest mistake we can make is rejecting God’s ways by neglecting God’s Word. Simply put, the single most effective way to prevent going from “blessed up” to “messed up” is to make a daily practice of reading God’s Book. Take it from Solomon, a Bible-less life is a meaningless life!