Which Disney princess are you? Which Hogwarts house would you be sorted into? What’s your Enneagram number? What’s your love language? Questions like these suck us in because we love personality tests. Or, more accurately, we love finding out about ourselves. We find it endlessly fascinating to delve into our own psyches and try to figure out what makes them tick. I have no plans to debate the merits or dangers of personality tests today, but I want to leave you thinking about this question:
Are you more like David or Solomon?
Two of the Greats
Both David and his son Solomon easily rank at the top of any “best kings of Israel” list: one was the wisest man who ever lived, chosen by God to build the Temple; the other God called a man after His own heart. Solomon arguably did more for the country, saw more prosperity, and enjoyed more peace than any king the nation had ever know or would ever know again. (Read his story in 1 Kings 1-11.) His father, on the other hand, had trouble all his life. If he wasn’t fighting the Philistines, he was running away from a son looking to kill him. (Read about it all in 1 and 2 Samuel.)
David was a great man of war, known for “killing his tens of thousands,” while Solomon hosted admirers from all over the world who came to marvel at the beauty of all that he had built.
This father-son duo also wrote prolifically. Together they wrote most of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job-Song of Solomon).
Of course, these two great kings of Israel weren’t without their problems. Solomon seemed to have it all: wisdom, riches, admirers from near and far, peace, and all the women he could handle. And, other than the last one, all of these were gifts from God. Because Solomon asked God for a discerning heart, Yahweh blessed him with these other benefits as well:
“I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. “In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for: both riches and honor, so that no king will be your equal during your entire life. (1Ki 3:12-13)
However, as Solomon got older and his kingdom became more prosperous, he turned these good gifts into gods.
When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the LORD his God, as his father David had been. … Solomon did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the LORD. (1Ki 11:4, 6)
Of course, Solomon’s father was hardly a picture of perfection either. Scripture records for us at least a year of David’s life during which he committed adultery (perhaps even rape) and murder without any sign of remorse (2 Samuel 11-12). When confronted with his sin, however, David quickly repented and turned back to God (see Psalm 51).
Both of these guys committed some pretty big sins. In other ways, though, both were wise and godly kings. Yet it was David to whom God promised a lasting dynasty and whose memory Yahweh would honor throughout Israel’s history. Solomon, on the other hand, would have most of the kingdom torn away from him and his sons.
David finished well, while Solomon, despite all of his advantages, finished poorly.
Which one are you? How can you tell?
The answer to this question will be found in the answer to another: Where do you seek satisfaction?
Solomon, along with his other accomplishments, was a prolific writer. Not all of his writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but we have preserved for us several books that were: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon (aka the Song of Songs). While the Proverbs and the Song were likely written earlier in Solomon’s reign, Ecclesiastes was probably his old-man opus. In it, he reflects on the futility, or vanity, of life. He uses the word vanity 27 times in the twelve chapters (ESV). Why does this king who quite literally has it all, feel like everything is empty, futile, and worthless? He gives a hint with another word he uses a few times: satisfied.
In the five times that satisfied appears in Ecclesiastes, it’s always used in the negative: “not” or “never satisfied.”
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecc 1:8)
one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. (Ecc 4:8)
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Ecc 5:10)
If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. … All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. (Ecc 6:3, 7)
Solomon’s problem wasn’t ultimately that he married foreign women who led his heart astray. His fundamental problem wasn’t that he built high places for false gods. It wasn’t greed or gluttony or pride. At least not ultimately. Solomon’s problem was that he wasn’t satisfied.
Can you relate?
- Does your heart chase after the “next big thing”?
- Do you flit from job to job or church to church or relationship to relationship looking for “something better”?
- Do you have a hard time stopping after one episode or after one brownie or one drink because you just “need more”?
- Do you look with envy at the pictures of your friends on social media, wishing that you had their looks, house, family, or skills?
Solomon, by all worldly accounts, lived “the good life.” None of us could ask for more than he had. Yet, he wasn’t satisfied. His dissatisfaction didn’t come as a result needing more of the same; it resulted from seeking the wrong source.
While Solomon wrote Proverbs, his father wrote poetry of a different kind: psalms. While David didn’t write all 150 canonical psalms, he did write a fair portion of them, many of which reveal that though his life was far from as glamourous as Solomon’s was, he was satisfied. While in the wilderness of Judah, on the run, David penned these words:
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night; (Psa 63:3-6 ESV)
David recognized that if he were to gain the whole world and lose God, he would ultimately lose. He didn’t look to his army, his victories, his throne, or his family for satisfaction. He found it in God alone.
He looked to God for…
- Hope (Ps. 62:5)
- Joy (Ps. 16:11)
- Peace (Ps 4:8)
- Contentment (Ps. 23:1)
- Strength (Ps. 18:1)
Where do you seek these things?
Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria that He, the Living Water, could truly quench her thirst. Anything else she tried would ultimately leave her thirsty (John 4:13-14). The same is true for you and me. If you’ve looked to Christ for salvation, you’ve drunk of the Living Water. Yet, perhaps you’ve gone back to the salty stuff that’s left you thirsty again. Maybe you’ve been looking for satisfaction in your job, your appearance, the approval of others, the good behavior of your kids, or their successes. Like Solomon, you will learn that none of these things quench your thirst because they are ultimately empty. Enjoy God’s good gifts, but do not ask them to fill a purpose for which they were never intended.
It’s time to forsake the way of Solomon and turn back to the One who truly satisfies.