Warring for God's PromiseOne of the lessons that can be drawn from the life of Solomon is that one must war for God’s promises. This is especially important in leadership, which the devil mounts more attack against. God had promised Solomon that he would be given rulership over the kingdom of Israel. In 1 Chronicles 22:10-11, God tells David, “Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies all around. His name shall be Solomon, for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of His kingdom over Israel forever.” As can be seen from this passage, God had clearly given Solomon the promise that he would be king over Israel. David had also supported this with an oath.The problem is that though Solomon knew he was the one chosen to be king, Adonijah had gathered many Israelites and the nation’s military commander behind him, and proclaimed a feast for his kingship. David and Solomon had to quickly work against Adonijah and his propaganda, or else the nation would quickly be firm in their support for him.
As can be seen from this passage, when God gives us a promise we often have to war and struggle to bring it through. God did not just annihilate the inhabitants of Canaan with fire and brimstone, but made the Israelites war to receive their promised territory. God does not just hand us things on a silver platter. There is a struggle involved. The devil is dead set against every move of God, so when one is leading in God’s will, they can expect enemy attack. God may promise growth and success to an organization, but the devil will send demons to influence the minds of susceptible people, to slander and accuse the organization. If a leader just takes this passively, and does not fight back against these accusations, the effectiveness and trust relationships people have with the organization may be permanently damaged. Though God may have given his promise and call to the organization, the leader must take the necessary steps to bring this promise into fruition.
The Importance of Listening to God’s Choice of Leadership
Another principle that can be learned from the passage of Solomon‘s struggle for succession of the kingship, is the importance of selecting a leader that is genuinely called of God, and not just talented or charismatic. Adonijah was older than Solomon, and also had a quite winsome appearance. As a result of this, many people supported him as he made an attempt to usurp Solomon as successor of the kingship. They would have reasoned that Because Adonijah was older, he would have more wisdom than Solomon, and because of his winsome appearance, this would give the nation a ‘better look’ against their enemies. God however, had chosen Solomon as king. It is a very common mistake to use man’s methods for choosing someone as leader. Many modern churches fall into this same mistake when choosing pastors. The biblical method of choosing leaders was to fast and pray, and then obey the voice of God. What is often instead done, is that a pastor will be invited to preach a sermon, do some sample visitation, and have an interview with the board. While the pastor may seem to be great at performing in these areas, God may have a different person He has chosen to be installed as leader. Making decisions based off of the voice of God, rather than human knowledge is one of the most important things a Christian person or organization can do, especially when it comes to choosing leaders.
The Three Tests
There are three things that have caused the downfall of most leaders. They are sexual immorality, greed for wealth, and lust for power. Colloquially these are known as “the three “G’s,” girls, gold, and glory. Also “the three F’s” females, fame, and fortune. God had commanded safeguards in these areas. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 addresses these things for the Israelite Monarch. It says, “But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, . . . Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” The issue of horses represents the lust for power that leaders often succumb to. Though horses might seem more like recreational animals to modern people, horses were a formidable weapon in the ancient world. An army equipped with large numbers of horses was far more powerful than an army that lacked them, besides their use for reconnaissance and transportation. By setting a limit to moderate the amount of horses the king had, the king would not be able to take glory in how large and powerful his army was. He could not trust in his own power, but rather would be forced to humble himself and trust in God’s deliverance. Rather than focus on his own power and national glory, the leader is forced to give God the glory for every victory.
One of the traps Solomon fell into was to disobey God, and to multiply large amounts of horses and chariots, in violation of God’s command. 1 Kings 10:26 says, “And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem.” As can be seen, Solomon had failed in the first command given to the Israelite Monarch.
Leaders can take example from Solomon’s failure here, by remembering to stay humble always. ‘bigger is better’ cannot be the motto for the Christian leader. Rather, the glory must always be given to God. Rather than focus on numbers and church growth, which is the primary goal for many pastors, the first focus must always be on relationship with God and discipleship. Rather than on bigger buildings, and better programs, a leader must remember to only do things for God’s glory, and never for his own. This is the first command given to leaders, as per the passage in Deuteronomy.
The next command given was for the monarch not to take numerous wives for himself. The main reason for Solomon’s apostacy, was the multitude of wives he had been adding to his collection over time. It was an ancient practice, that when a nation wanted to secure an alliance with another, they would use intermarriage of the royal lines to do this. Because of Solomon’s many peace treaties he made with other nations, he had many wives as a result of the continual intermarriage between the nations. Eventually this culminated with his having seven-hundred wives and three-hundred concubines. Not only this, these women were from the pagan nations around them, and brought their foreign gods to Israel to worship them. As a result, by having an inordinate desire to please his wives, Solomon not only allowed them to worship their gods, but he himself also began to worship many of them. As a result, God gave the word that when Solomon was dead, his descendants would only have one tribe to rule, and the other eleven would be given to another man who was not his descendant.
It is usually thought that God was permissive regarding polygamy in the Old Testament, however the truth is that God had still placed limits on the amount of wives a king could have. Regarding the monarch, Deuteronomy 17:17 says, “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; . . .” Part of the fact of marriage is that it is two people becoming one. As a result, the tendencies, values, and character began to flow from one partner to the other as part of this oneness. There is a soul-tie formed in marriage between the partners, and an ungodly tie will result in the ungodly partner pulling down the godly one. Because of gravity, it is easier to pull someone down than it is to pull them up. This is the same way with marriages and relationships, if one partner leads an unashamedly sinful life, they are going to have an easier time pulling the godly partner down, than the godly partner is going to have trying to pull the ungodly one up into higher levels of holiness. Because of this, foreign marriages were prohibited in the Bible, because God knew that this oneness with pagan wives would drag down the Israelites into serving the foreign gods.
One lesson that can be learned from this, is the importance of choosing a godly marriage partner. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” Being unequally yoked is what caused Solomon’s downfall, and has since caused the downfall of many others. Because of their prominent and influential position, leaders must take extra care in this area, and must be sure they have prayed and fasted about who to marry.
They must also take extra safeguards against sexual temptations. One failure in this area will have more publicity than is imaginable, and the reputation of the leader and his organization will be destroyed. There have been far too many sexual scandals among prominent Christians, and this is the number one sin that ends up destroying people’s reputations and lives.
The Deuteronomy passage continues into the third prohibition for the monarch, “. . . nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” This is another area that Solomon failed in. 1 Kings 10:27 says “The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, . . .” describing the immense plenitude of wealth the king was amassing. Further, 1 Kings 10:14 says that “the weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six-hundred and sixty six talents of gold.” This was a stupendous amount of gold Solomon was piling up for himself, twenty-five tons of it per year! This is also related to his apostacy. The number six-hundred and sixty six is the same number that is the mark of the antichrist, 666. This passage can thus be taken in prophetic interpretation to refer to of the fact that greed for money is going to be one of the basis of the antichrist’s system. Since no one can buy or sell without the mark, people are going to have to choose between greed and God then, as they must in every age.
The greed for gold has corrupted such as large amount of ministers over the course of history, and thus the specification in Deuteronomy 17:17 that leaders must never hold onto excessive wealth. From the historic fact of taking bribes to sell church positions, to the more common modern approach of accepting ministry opportunities at high-paying churches/organizations instead of the place God called them to, Christian leaders have been prone to greed. Judas was not the only one who betrayed his Lord for some cash. This has left a terrible stigma to unbelievers. Televangelists that are continually begging for donations also contribute to this. The greed for gold must be overcome by the Christian leader, or he will end up on Satan’s leash.
It can be seen by looking at Solomon’s life that there are several things to learn. One of these is that as a leader, one must war for God’s promises, and not just expect them to fulfill regardless of a lack of involvement of the leader’s part. Another thing is that one must seek God’s will when appointing leaders, and not just the person who looks competent. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly is to guard against the three temptations that God had instructed the monarch against. Lust for glory, sexual sin, and greed for gold. Solomon fell to all three of them, but as leaders in the body of Christ, we must take example of these temptations as things we can and must overcome.