what can we learn from Solomon?
Solomon is one of the most impressive figures in the Bible, with power, wealth and wisdom outstripping all other Old Testament characters. Solomon had the honour of meeting the god God, chatting with him and being offered anything he wanted:
the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
“… give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” (1 Kings 3)
So Christians believe:
1. There was and never will be anyone as wise as Solomon.
2. The god God loved and blessed Solomon.
3. Solomon had personal conversations with the god God.
According to the Bible, this wisest of men who had a personal relationship with the god God still went on to disobey the god God by having 700 wives and 300 concubines, and disturbingly (for a wise man) worshipping other, even more clearly false gods.
So I think there is a key lesson that Christians can take from the story of Solomon:
If the wisest and most blessed character depicted in your religious tradition, who has chatted personally with your deity, doesn’t think that the god you worship is worth believing in or staying faithful to, it means the god either isn’t worth worshipping or the god doesn’t actually exist.
As an atheist, I think there is also a key lesson for me from the story of Solomon:
There are no depths to the absurdity of the stories that Christians will believe and also, rather curiously, manage to interpret in ways that give reinforcing messages about their religion and their god.
Of course, if anyone else has a lesson they would like to share about the story of Solomon, I would be more than delighted to hear it.
(Inspired by Becky.)