Sermon delivered May 27, 2000 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical Quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

The Wisest Fool

Somebody said, "We weren't going to have much of a crowd for church today because of Campmeeting, so your sermon will be a lot shorter. Right?" No, this is going to be a full sermon. So, we'd better get started. We're going to talk about the smartest and wisest fool the world has ever known. I think by now you have guessed who it is.

Of all the Who's Who in the Bible, we know about Moses and Jesus and Elijah and David and Paul, and a host of other renowned Bible Heros. About all we seem to remember about Solomon is that he wrote the book of Proverbs and several other books of the Bible. He was a wise man. He was rich. He built a beautiful temple. And he did things like that.

You can read also in Ecclesiastes 1: that he is a preacher. In verse 12 he says, "I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem." So, he's not only a preacher but he's a king. Some preachers, I suppose, act like kings.

He started out as a good king on his daddy's throne. Now keep in mind that Solomon never had to go out and kill Goliath. He never really did any big battles. He probably didn't even know much about swords unless he just played with them as a baby. He grew up pampered a little bit. But, he was a good king at the beginning. He made Jerusalem to shine like a diamond glistening there between the shimmering blue waves of the Mediterranean Sea and the glimmering salty waters of the Dead Sea. Jerusalem was a crown jewel in Solomon's day. Gold and Silver were as common as dust. Come over here to 1 Kings. We're going to do a lot of study in First Kings. Chapter three and four tell about Solomon. I Kings 4:25 Every man sat in safety under his vine and fig tree. Everybody was safe. It was a great experience. No wars were going on. They were blessed with money and everybody had plenty to eat. They were good times. God was blessing the whole nation. And, you know, God has done that with America. God has blessed this country. But when I look at our lifestyle, I wonder how long that blessing will continue. How long did Solomon's blessing continue?

The first thing he did when he got the throne was to put his enemies to death. A little bit of bloodshed there. And then in 1 Kings 3:1, Solomon made an affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David. And he had her there and kept her in the house and married her.

Shortly after this God appeared to Solomon to give Solomon a request. Sort of like a genie in a bottle here because look at what God says. Look in I Kings 3:5. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." God is lavish with His people, isn't he. He loves His people. He wants to give us great gifts.

Continuing with verse 6, Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father, David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So 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 very happy, wasn't he, with that request. God says, "Well, since you asked for this, you didn't ask for a long life. You didn't ask for wealth. You didn't ask for things for yourself. You didn't ask for the death of your enemies. I'm going to give you this type of wisdom. Verse 12: "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 you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my says and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."

That's an amazing blessing, isn't it. Now, before David died he cautioned His son Solomon in I Chronicles 28:9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever." Oh that Solomon had been more Solemn and attentive to David and to God. He was the wisest man in the world, but even that can be lost. You know, you can lose your wisdom. There was a sign on a school bulletin board: "Free! Wisdom on Mondays through Fridays. Bring your own container." You've got to want wisdom and you you've got to contain it or it will be lost.

King Solomon showed rare wisdom one day when two women came before him. These two ladies were having a squabble. Both claimed to be the true mother of a child. In I Kings 3:24-25 Solomon said: "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other." Well, I want to tell you that very quickly the real mother was discovered. She said, "Oh, no! Don't do that. Let the other lady have the baby." But the other said, "No! Cut her in half."

All Israel saw that Solomon fantastic wisdom. He had extraordinary quantities of God's wisdom. In fact it was so great that the Bible says: I Kings 4: 29-31 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Now, that's pretty intelligent, isn't it. I don't know what his I.Q. was. It may not have been very high, but he had a lot of common sense and a lot of wisdom, at least at the beginning. Verse 30, Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man... Nobody was wiser than Solomon.

After he killed all his enemies, the next thing he did was to build up his own house so that he (verse 26 KJV) had four thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horses horsemen. Imagine having four thousand garages for your Porsches and your Corvettes. Any cars you can afford because you've got all the gold and silver in the world. Four thousand garage doors to open with your remote. Which car shall I choose this morning? That's Solomon, you know. He had all those horses and twelve thousand horsemen. He had wisdom and riches and fame.

Finally Solomon got around to building the glorious temple. His workmen cast two pillars of brass for the temple that were each 27 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter! Each would weigh 20 tons! (I Kings 7:15) What a temple he built. The temple was one of the wonders of the world. And what craftsmanship there was. I Kings 6:7 says that the stone was prepared at the quarry so that the hammer or any iron tool was not heard during the construction of that temple. Just silent, holy, a holy place. Isn't that fantastic?

I want to tell you today that we are the temple of the living God. II Corinthians 6:16 As you spend the days of your life, as you spend the time God has allocated to you, are you building a solid structure of materials that will last, or are you building with inferior materials? We need to build a solid temple. Are you using jewels or junk in the constructing this temple? Do not cut corners in our spiritual life because you are building the temple of God. God wants to live in your heart. Build your body temple not our of junk, but out of jewels.

At the dedication of the Temple Solomon preached the sermon- (I Kings 8:12-21). Solomon concluded with a wonderful prayer and a sacrifice, dedicating that temple to God. His fame spread around the world. He had a tremendous palace, he had all these garages with all these Volkswagens in there, whatever they were. He was famous.

One day the lovely Queen of Sheba heard so much about Solomon that she wanted to come and see what made this man so wise and what brought him such blessing. And so she came and I think the Queen of Sheba was searching for the truth. Maybe she was honestly searching for a relationship with the God who she had heard about, the True God. 2 Chronicles 9:3-8 When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servant in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me: you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the Lord your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness."

Solomon impressed the queen of Sheba with his wit and his wealth, and even his God. I want to ask you, when company comes over to your house, what do you show them? Do you show them all the doodads? all your stuff? Or do they see your Jesus? They ought to see Jesus when they come to your house. She went away very impressed with Solomon, but not with Solomon's God. She came all the way from Africa to find God and true wisdom, and she found Solomon.

Solomon started slipping down into a steep spiritual decline. You can read this in I Kings 11:1-11. King Solomon did not fall suddenly. It happened gradually. But when he did fall, it was from a great height! Remember he was the richest and the wisest man that ever lived. He went from being the wisest to being the most foolish. Perhaps the praise of the thousands who thronged around Solomon to catch the pearls of genius as they poured forth from his royal mouth, that all got to him and was more than he could stand. It changed him and puffed him up.

Come over here to Ecclesiastes 2 in your Bible. In Ecclesiastes we see a lavish list of Solomon's quest for meaning and happiness. He tried everything. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NAS) "All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them." Isn't that amazing. Anything he saw he, did it. If people were taking drugs, if they were doing anything, he saw it and he tried it. You can read the list of the things he tried. He tried money. Does money bring happiness? (Who said no!?) Are you sure? If you had more money would things be a little bit better? Money is sort of a condensation of your life. But the love of money doesn't bring happiness. And the misuse of money doesn't bring happiness. And the excess of money does not bring happiness. But prosperity did not work.

Pleasure! He tried laughter, leisure, liquor, licentiousness, labor, lucre, lovely ladies, he tried it all. And he got bored. He was an unhappy camper. He says in Ecclesiastes 2: 10,11 "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." I think that when everyone is doing your work for you, you probably get that feeling. I think honest work brings happiness and reward. You work hard, you gain something, that something is valuable to you. If you get it all given to you, it is not valuable to you.

I think you will find that when you lose Jesus, you will eventually have an empty life. And Solomon lost God.

How did Solomon begin this downhill path? It started back when he married the wrong person. We have a chart at our house of the things that make a person happy. The number one thing on that chart is that ninety percent of the happiness or grief in life comes from marrying the right or the wrong person. You need to marry the right person. Who did he marry? Solomon married a heathen: Pharaoh's pretty daughter. And aren't the heathen beautiful? Why are the heathen so beautiful? They are! He married Pharaoh's pretty girl. Forbidden fruit looks better?! Cows try to eat the grass on the other side of the fence. It looks better over there. But she had heathen idolatry in her heart. She had idols packed in her luggage. And he brought her home and she brought a lot of stuff into his house that he did not need. And it rubbed off on her Solomon. Please marry someone who can help you on your journey to heaven. Don't even date somebody that's going to take you the other way. She may be pretty, but if she's a heathen - the wrong direction.

Solomon began to worship the gods of his wife and to burn incense on High Places. I Kings 3:2-3. It was different and cute. But it had its effect. Stealthfully, and imperceptibly like a spreading infection, this thing got hold of Solomon's heart. Sin got a foothold in his life. There it festered and spread throughout his body, throughout his soul without check, until toward the end of his life its malignancy had eaten to the core of his spiritual life. He was dead spiritually toward the end of his life.

Look at another thing he did. In I Kings 9: 10-13 we see Solomon's friend Hiram being paid for his beautiful cedar lumber. At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built these two buildings--the temple of the LORD and the royal palace-- King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and pine and gold he wanted. So this was payment, this was his pay. "I'm going to give you twenty cities." But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. "What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?" he asked. And he called them the Land of Cabul, a name they have to this day. You know what Cabul means? Worthlessness. Maybe swamp land or flood land, a bad place. No good. He cheated Hiram.

And I think there's nothing worse than somebody who cheats you in your business. You charge them a certain amount and they don't pay. They owe you. They're a cheapskate. When you cheat others in shady business dealings, you begin to go down the path of Solomon. Oh that we were honest!

I Kings 10:22 Solomon had a fleet of trading ships that sailed with Hiram's fleet. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded down with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. Peacocks for pleasure and apes for frivolous entertainment and other purposes that you don't want to know about. Here the whole world was looking on and what does Solomon exhibit before them?

In I Kings 11:1,2 he imported "fast women" into his kingdom. King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not inter- marry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. I think here it would be fair to exchange the word sex for the word love. He held fast to them alright! I don't think it was love. Oh that he had held fast to God.

Verse 3, He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

Solomon's sensual sweethearts spoiled his spirituality. Slowly but surely sexual seduction shriveled up Solomon's sense of sin. Scorning scripture, staunch Solomon slid speedily on sinking seriously into the swamp of separation from his Savior.

The wisest man in the world, the one who had the answer to the hardest questions, had flirted with sin too long. He had worked almost eight years building the glorious Temple as a place for God and His word to dwell, but did not want the Scriptures to dwell in his heart. Jerusalem, that holy city, was where God lived! It was made holy by God's presence. Solomon lived in the Holy City but even though God lived in town God was not welcome in Solomon's heart. His heart was already full of lust and an obsession for pretty women. Solomon was not holy because God did not live in Solomon's heart. God needs to live in our hearts.

He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines! Solomon collected beautiful women like some people make it a hobby to collect antique automobiles. It was a hobby. Every day he was surrounded with one thousand of the most beautiful women in the world. He didn't get junk. These beautiful women disconnected him from heavenly things.

I want to say something about us. If you sit there and watch sensual women on TV, and if you do it enough times, you will slowly be changed. If you stare at enough lewd pictures and movies, you will also go down that same road that Solomon went down. You be careful what you look at.

I Corinthians 10:11,12 gives us some advice. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! It could happen to you.

Solomon should have been more Solemn! Instead he fastened his eyes on wild wicked women and his women friends took him away from God. Wise Solomon was outwitted by food, frolic, fortune, fame, and females. When you go to Egypt (not the country today), the heart of wickedness to seek a bride, you go to the wrong place. You will bring home with you a force that can undo your connection with God.

Albert Einstein said: "The greatest tragedy of life is when growth stops and decay sets in." This can happen in the teenage years. You teenagers, you can get up, grow up, be just fine and all of a sudden get a hold of something that is going to decay you to the core. How many shining youth are led over fools hill by drugs, alcohol, or a wild life. Or ruination can happen during the mid-life crisis of a persons life. Affairs or reversion to old habits knock out many a person in mid life. But with Solomon his decay got totally out of hand in his old age.

Now you would think that when a person gets past sixty they have survived the temptations of life and have smooth sailing into the beautiful sunset of their life. But rocky roads await even the senior saints.

I Kings 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.

Ashtoreth was the sex goddess which sanctioned sexual activity of any variety. Molech worship included child sacrifice. Solomon was doing all of that. Do you think you're going to meet Solomon in heaven?

Heathen genes mixed in with Hebrew genes and from this point the kingdom of Israel was never the same. Rehoboam and Jeroboam led the whole nation into deep sin. The Kingdom was divided into the ten tribes and the two tribes. War and bloodshed came in never to leave. It all started with Solomon, the wisest fool. His sons followed suit.

You know, there's a lesson in that. If you have children and you fail in mid-life, if you fail in your older age, what is that going to do to the generations that follow you? Did you ever think about that? You're going to flounder, and in all likelihood, that's what happened here. He sons followed suit. Friends, your spiritual example or lack of one can have devastating effects or fantastic effects on your descendants. You cannot afford to slip into sin. Your ungodly example may lead hundreds into the quagmire of eternal loss.

Solomon sowed a lot of wild oats, especially in his latter life. Solomon died. His children, indeed the whole nation reaped a harvest of strife and bloodshed. His mistakes were so costly. Hosea 8:7 They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

Lord Byron, the English poet wrote:

"The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree I planted, 
      they have torn me  
            and I bleed:  
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a
seed."

How God must have looked to Solomon for something special and He didn't get it. I think today that God is looking for godly men and women. God want people with integrity. He doesn't want you out there feasting on the music channels and the HBO channels. He doesn't want you out there filling your mind up with lust and sin. He wants you feasting on His word. He wants you on your knees. He wants you to talk to Him, to be Holy and pure and like Him. Now if your father was immoral, maybe your father was an alcoholic. You can break that cycle. It doesn't have to continue on and on. You might say, "My daddy did this, therefore I'm doomed." You can break that cycle through Jesus Christ. It can happen. It doesn't have to be propagated on generation after generation. You don't have to have a hot temper. You don't have to gross sinner. You can avoid alcohol. You can be like Jesus. You can do it through Him.

Today is the time to be a follower of God. If you have failed God in the past that is irrevocable. What is done is done. It can never be changed or recalled. Lord Byron, the English poet, once wrote, "No hand can make the clock strike for me the hours that are past."

But today, and every day forward, you can decide for God. Don't put it off. Listen to some of Solomon's last words: Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them. Verses 6,7. Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Verses 13,14. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

I want to tell you that in my opinion, Solomon was the greatest failure in the whole Bible. He had more intelligence than any other person who ever lived. Luke 12:48 "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." No one who ever lived had any more opportunity than Solomon, the world's wisest fool.

You can be wiser than Solomon. And you are wiser than Solomon when you give your heart to Jesus Christ and stay loyal to Him all the days of your life.

Hymn of Praise: #337, Redeemed!
Scripture: 1 Kings 2:1-4
Hymn of Response: #306, Draw Me Nearer

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