I Kings 3:5-9
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Solomon, in his divine visitation dream (I Kings 3:7 through 9) asked a special request of God:
“Now, O LORD my God, You have made your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your ser- vant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give Your servant an under- standing heart to judge Your people, that I may dis- cern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
There are six prescriptions in Deuteronomy 17:14 through 19 that God gave concerning future kings of Israel! Here are four from verses 16 and 17:
“...he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he mul- tiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.”
In the last two Gems we have covered three mentioned in verses 16 and 17 (and two more from Deuteronomy 17:18 in Discerning Between Good and Evil – II). Here we will finish this four-part series by examining the fourth prescription.
Deuteronomy 17:17 – “…nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” Why is that? In I Timothy 6:6 through 11, Saint Paul gives some good and godly reasoning:
- In verse 6 he makes a broad statement: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”
✞ As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, our highest aim should be godliness – to become more and more like our Master! ➔ As Jesus said in Matthew 10:24 and 25 (Modern King James Version), “A disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he is like his master, and the servant like his lord.” ➔ This is the Father’s plan for every believer, according to Romans 8:29: “For whom He [God, the Father] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn of many brethren.” ✞ “...godliness with contentment....” ➔ What is contentment? It is being fully sat- isfied with where you are and what you have! ➔ The apostle shared his own experience con- cerning contentment in Philippians 4:11 through 13: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be a- based, and I know how to abound. Every- where and in all things I have learned to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- In the next four verses Paul gives supporting arguments against placing too much focus on “…multiplying silver and gold for…[one]self.”
✞ I Timothy 6:7 – “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (see also Ecclesiastes 5:15, 16). ➔ A newborn comes into this world naked, helpless, and has no consciousness of wealth or possessions. ➔ As far as departing this life, someone once said, “I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer!” ➔ So it is foolishness to pursue that which is not eternal! (see Luke 12:15-21). ➔ And, according to Psalm 14:1 and 53:1, to be a fool is to act like an atheist! For, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” ✞ I Timothy 6:8 – “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” Yes, we need more than having only food and clothing! And the list can get rather long! But Paul’s point is that if our chief concern is to attain god- liness (God-likeness), then much of what else we might pursue is unnecessary! ✞ I Timothy 6:9 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in des- truction and perdition.” ➔ The people under consideration here are those whose main focus in life is to be- come wealthy, and so have power, influ- ence, and control over those of lower status. ➔ In the parable of the sower, found in Mat- thew 13:3 through 9 (with Jesus’ interpre- tation of this parable in Matthew 13:18 through 23), the pursuer of riches does not drown, but any godliness is choked by weeds of materialism! (see Matthew 13:7 and 22). ✞ I Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ➔ Money is not evil! As a matter of fact, the first mention of gold in the Bible is in Genesis 2:11 through 12 where it mentions the four rivers that divided from the garden of Eden river. “The name of the first [river] is Pishon; it is the one that encompasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good.” If money was evil, God would not have called “...the gold...of Havilah...good...”! ➔ It is “...the love of money [that] is the root of all kinds of evil...”! For such love is a consuming love, and that kind of love must be reserved only for the LORD God Himself! (see Mark 12:30).
- In verse 11, Paul applies all this in a warning to young Timothy: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, [and] gentleness.” In other words, Get your priorities right! Make sure God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, has first place in your life…not the pursuit of worldly wealth!
Solomon pursued worldly wealth! He ignored God’s prohibition of Deuteronomy 17:17, “…nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” The extent of this king’s riches is staggering! Here are a few Scriptures that give us an idea of the wealth he garnered:
- I Chronicles 29:3 through 5 – David, during the last years of his reign , prepared as much material as he could from Israel’s national resources for the building of God’s temple by his son Solomon. But he also contributed much from his personal wealth! “Moreover …I have given…my own special treasure of gold and silver; three thousand talents of gold…and seven thousand talents of refined silver….”
✡ In today’s dollars, that’s about four hundred billion dollars worth of gold, and thirteen billion dollars worth of silver! And I’m sure that did not exhaust King David’s personal portfolio! ✡ Solomon inherited a lot of wealth from his daddy when he became king!
- II Chronicles 9:9 – The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s wisdom and riches, and she came to judge it for herself. She was very impressed! “Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold…and precious stones….” The gold alone was worth about sixteen million dollars!
- I Kings 9:26 and 28 – “King Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber…And they went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold…and brought it to King Solomon.” This expedition produced about fifty seven million dollars of wealth for the king!
- I Kings 10:22 – “The king had merchant ships…with Hiram [king of Tyre]. One every three years the…ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.”
- I Kings 10:23 through 25 –
So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom....Each man brought his present; articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses and mules, at a set rate year by year.
- I Kings 10:14 and 15 –
The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, besides that from the traveling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country. ✡ “...six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold...” is worth in today’s money about ninety million dollars! ✡ Ninety million dollars came in each year, and Solomon reigned for forty years! That’s worth about three and a half trillion dol- lars!
- II Chronicles 1:15 – “…the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones….”
- I Kings 10:21– “All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold…not one was of silver, for [silver]…was accounted for as nothing in the days of Solomon.”
The king had one more source of great wealth that is not usually counted because it is a bit hidden in I Kings 12:4 (International Standard Version):
- Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam held audience with the people of Israel upon his ascendance to the throne: “Your father made our burdens unbearable. Therefore lighten your father’s requirements and his heavy burdens that he placed on us, and we’ll serve you.”
- Apparently, the heavy burdens the Israelites labored under included a great load of taxes. Being a trillionaire didn’t satisfy Solomon! So he resorted to oppressive taxation!
Adding it all up, is it any wonder that Solomon, the king of Israel, is accounted as the richest man in the history of the world? But although that may be impressive, Solomon failed miserably! He started his kingly life walking close to the LORD, but he left God behind, disobeying His explicit commandments because he didn’t “…let the word…dwell in [him]… richly…” (Colossians 3:16). So the great King Solomon ended his life in a shipwreck! And it not only affected him, it affected the whole nation of the Israelites for centuries!
Don’t let this happen to you!
Don’t pursue wrong things as your life’s goal!
“…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”!