Examples of Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Solomon
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” [1 Kings 3:9-14 ESV]
If there is a single spiritual discipline Scripture tells us to seek it is wisdom. For it is wisdom which first acknowledges God and His work and then finally defines the life of a godly person. Wisdom is the confluence of knowledge and understanding with a righteous relationship with God. Wisdom defines our love for God, our decisions, the people with whom we are friends, how we invest our time, how we speak. Our integrity is shown through wisdom.
Solomon, when asked by God in a dream what He could give him, asked for an “understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” and this pleased God. Read about Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. It is obvious Solomon knew God and how God worked. He knew God’s commands and statutes. But, he also knew God’s world, the creation which surrounded him, for he studied many things. He knew what pleased God and what would bring God’s wrath. Examine his prayers. He prayed about the blessings and curses also found in the Law of Moses. Under his rule the people of Israel had peace and prosperity which Solomon acknowledged was a blessing of God.
He was a student and a teacher probing the depths of every subject and seeing its relationship with other facets of life. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” [1 Kings 4:29-30 ESV]. He was a thinker, writer, musician and poet, giving 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He was a scientist studying biology, botany and zoology. He was a judge and arbiter. He was sought after and listened to. People would come from other nations to hear him speak and see his works.
Solomon hungered and thirsted after righteousness. This does not mean he was a perfect man following God in every detail. For as surely as you are reading this he sinned like us. There is no new sin under the sun. You cannot read Ecclesiastes and come to any other conclusion. Solomon knew the precariousness of his life in this world before God. He reasoned that knowing about the world, about people, even knowing himself, would give him a better understanding of his God. He recognized sin and realized its consequences, both immediate and long-term. He knew wisdom and folly, testing his will with pleasure and work, giving in to every whim or denying himself as a discipline. Not content with simply having he wanted to know why he had, how it worked, when it worked or failed, and what the final results. Confident he would come through every experience with a greater understanding of God, with more wisdom, he delved into the abyss of sin and then rose to the heights of his understanding of righteousness.
Solomon feared God but was unafraid of Him.
He had power and strength, money and control. He listened to God and had God’s ear. But he tempted God and himself. Like David before him God promised to establish him if he would follow Him. He was explicitly told to not turn from God’s statutes and laws to follow other gods. God is God and there is no other. He will not abide anyone worshiping anything other than Himself. Worshiping another god brings God’s wrath. He not only knew the wisdom of God but also of the world and knew the difference. Solomon was a politician, shrewd and capable and pragmatic. While God overlooks some sin, for Christ died for the sin of the whole world, He does not overlook the consequences of sin, especially when He spells out those consequences.
God prohibited His people from marrying anyone who was not a worshiper of God, for the unbelieving spouse would lead their partner away from worshiping the true God (see Ex.34:16 and Deut.7:3). Solomon not only married Pharaoh’s daughter (see 1 Kings 3:1) but he married other daughters of other kings. He met, even embraced, the consequences of his sin which is more sin and the wrath and judgment of God.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 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. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 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. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice [1 Kings 11:1-9 ESV]
Solomon was a sex addict. He was not driven by a compulsion for sex but by a desire for it, a desire which dulled his heart and conscience. By the end of his life he did not care what the consequences of his sin were. I have an opinion why this happened. During his life Solomon gave himself permission to sin so he might increase his “wisdom.” Such is the actions of those who know the truth because God has told them and those who compromise the truth with the lies of the world. It was not Solomon’s sex addiction which caused his fall and God’s displeasure but that he worshiped other gods in order to feed the addiction.
There is a danger facing those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. It is like every other danger facing us because of sin. It is the danger of explaining away sin or excusing it through faulty reasoning. We want to justify our sin. Teachers tend to ignore their limitations, unaware of the blind spots which develop as they teach. Teachers, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, often fall victim to worshiping false gods. It is not enough to hunger and thirst for wisdom or knowledge or understanding. These will lead astray. Jesus calls us to hunger and thirst for His righteousness, so we will be filled with Him.