Tom: Thanks, Gary. You are listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave, as you know, last week we discussed a question from your book In Defense of the Faith regarding Solomon. Now, Solomon, as we mentioned it—as we went over it—he was an enigma in some ways, but this person who writes the question to you really wants to take not just Solomon but the Bible to task. So let me go back over the question: “We are told that when Solomon was old he worshiped false gods and goddesses, tried to kill Jeroboam whom God had chosen as his successor, and did other evils. How then could God have inspired him to write parts of the Bible? How could he have been the wisest man who ever lived? And how could it be said of him that he ‘slept with his fathers,’ which presumably meant he went to heaven?”
Dave: Of course, we discussed that last week, Tom. “He slept with his fathers” doesn’t mean that he went to heaven, I don’t believe. I think it even says that of Ahab and some wicked kings. “Gathered to his fathers” is another expression in the Bible, and, as you know, from visiting Israel and the Middle East, they have these graves, family burial sites, hewn out of rock, and as a person died they would lay them on this slab, and then as they deteriorate and they need someone else to go on the slab, they just scoop their bones—what’s left—down into a hole there, so they are “gathered with their fathers.” That’s really what it means!
We discussed last week— “Well, is Solomon in heaven?” I think he is. We discussed—wow, that’s difficult! A thousand wives, building altars to false gods, and, well, he had a horrible weakness, an unbelievable weakness, for women, and yet how could he be the wisest man whoever lived?
Tom: Dave, one of the things I’ve found in talking to some people I know who are fairly—well, they study the Bible, [but] some of the Old Testament individuals they don’t really know that well, so, how much more, then, for maybe many in our listening audience?
Let me go over some of the points about Solomon from the scriptures. This is from 1 Kings:3:11, “And God said unto him [that is, Solomon], Because thou has asked this thing and has not asked for thyself long life; neither has asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” Wisdom, understanding, right from—I mean, a gift of God here.
Dave: Tom, let me go back a little bit so people know what he asked. Because, look, in verse 5: “In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and [I don’t understand that part of it] God said, “Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said [I don’t think he’s dreaming—I would have to look up that word in the Hebrew: vision, night vision—I’m not sure, but anyway] . . .
Tom: Well, it says, “Solomon awoke [verse 15], and behold, it was dream,” but nevertheless, God spoke to him in this dream.
Dave: Okay, well, thank you, Tom. But in the dream, Solomon is responding to the Lord. And notice what God says: “Ask what I shall give thee.” Well, you could have anything you want, and Solomon shows tremendous humility here: “Thou hast shown unto thy servant David my father great mercy according as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness and in uprightness of heart with thee. Thou hast kept for him this great kindness that thou hast given him a son to sit on throne as it is this day. And now, oh Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant [that’s Solomon, speaking of himself] king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”
It reminds one of Moses. When God chose him to go and deliver His people, Moses didn’t say, “Wow, it’s about time you realized I’m the man for the job!” He said, “I can’t do it! I can’t speak, and I am incapable of this.” Those are the kinds of people that God chooses. And someone out there, if you think you’re the man or the woman for the job, better think again, because some of us are too strong to be able to experience God’s strength. We’re too strong in ourselves.
You remember when the Lord gave Paul that thorn in the flesh, Jesus said to him, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” So, Solomon certainly starts out right, and he says, “I am a little child. I know not how to go out or come in, and thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen—a great people that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad [wow!], for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And his speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.” And then we have the verse you read, “You didn’t ask riches and so forth, but I’m going to give you the wisdom and understanding that you asked for” in verse 12. “There was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”
Tom: Well let’s add a little testimony to it. His fame, not just because of his wealth and everything, but because of his wisdom, it spread everywhere.
Tom: And the Queen of Sheba comes (this is in chapter 10), and this is what she says in verse 7: “Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I had heard.” She was stunned by all of this.
So God gives him wisdom and understanding like no man outside of Jesus who ever walked the face of the earth. So why didn’t things end happily ever after here?
Dave: We talked about it last week, Tom, and I am just as puzzled by it now as I was then.
Tom: Well, God set forth the condition. Even though He gave him wisdom, and, Dave, I’m going to refer to some of the proverbs that Solomon wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Dave: He warned his son against going after women.
Dave: And then that’s what he himself did! I don’t know—how old was he Tom? You’ve been studying this. Do we excuse him because of his old age? I know some people are excusing some of the time-honored preachers today for some of the things they are saying. “Well, he’s getting elderly.” How much can you excuse a person for being elderly? I am getting elderly, too, you know?
Tom: Yeah. On the other hand, how old were Adam and Eve? More perfect—I’m not comparing Adam to Solomon—I can’t make that comparison, but we do know in terms of age, they hardly had that problem in perfect bodies.
Tom: So, really, it’s something else here. Something else. And I think . . . Dave, I want to read Proverbs:3:1-8. You mentioned he spoke to his son. This is what he said: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. [This is God speaking to Solomon himself, or to any of us, right?] For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy necks; write them upon the table of thy heart.” I think we’re getting to the issue here, Dave.
Dave: Let me interrupt you for a second, Tom.
Tom: Go ahead.
Dave: That reminds me of something, and I wish someone would do this again. When I was a little child, what, three, four, five years old, I had a coloring book with those Proverbs in it, and I can remember the picture, “Forsake not my commandments. Bind them upon thine heart; write them on the table of thine heart,” and so forth. I remember one of them was terribly frightening to me as a little child: “He that despiseth his mother and refuseth to obey his father, the ravens of the valley shall pluck out his heart [eyes] and the young eagles shall eat it, something like that.” [Note: Correct quote: “The eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”] I don’t remember it word for word, Tom. Oooh, and there was a picture there, and you colored that. I think we need some coloring books like that again.
Tom: Well, some deterrents. We don’t hear that word today. “The fear of the Lord”—where does this come in?
Dave: “ . . . is the beginning of wisdom.”
Tom: Yes. So picking up with Proverbs 3—I’m on verse 4: “Thou shalt find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” Now here’s the verse. Solomon wrote these words . . .
Dave: Inspired of God . . .
Tom: . . . but did not adhere to them: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” You mentioned it before, Dave, that God may have gifted lots of people, but when they take control, or think they’re taking control, or this gift becomes their strong point, they’ve shifted away from a heart for God and a heart for truth to (I think) their own understanding. “In all thy ways acknowledge him . . . ” Solomon didn’t do that.“ . . . and he shall direct thy paths.” God was always willing, ready and able to direct.
Dave: Solomon began that way, Tom. It was in his old age that he strayed. Now, that does not excuse him.
Tom: Now look at verse 7:“Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.”
Dave: Yeah, we are never in such danger of falling as when we think we can’t, and Paul writes, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There is no temptation taken but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who won’t allow you to be tempted or tested above what you are able to bear.” So, once again, Solomon—he turned from what he knew was right. How he could excuse himself, I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t even try to excuse himself. The Bible . . .
Tom: Well, Dave, when you sin and when you rebel, doesn’t a blindness come over you? It’s like those who were maybe doing things by the grace of God in a righteous way, but in the next breath they become self-righteous, which is the antithesis. Look at Job—I think we quoted this last week, Job:28:28: “Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Tom: So, Solomon had an incredible measure of wisdom and understanding, but he removed himself from it. He went his own way.
Dave: Well Tom, I don’t want to get back on that subject—well, I guess there’s no way. I’ve just finished a book on Calvinism, and there’s no way you can avoid it, because everywhere I read in the Bible now, I see you have to make a choice. Does man have a will, or doesn’t he have a will? Do we actually choose? Martin Luther wrote a book, The Bondage of the Will, to say that man has no will. The Calvinist’s emphasis upon the sovereignty of God, in my opinion, goes much too far, so that God causes everything. We don’t even choose. He tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree, but then He causes them to eat of the tree, and then He punishes them for doing what He caused them to do.
Tom: In the Calvinist’s view.
Dave: That’s right. Going back and quoting Edwin Palmer again from his book The Five Points of Calvinism, he says, “even the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist, even sin,” he says. I’m quoting him verbatim, even sin—this is all caused, not just allowed, in God’s providential will, but literally caused because man cannot make a choice independent from God, otherwise God would not be sovereign. Therefore, God must be the cause even of rape and murder and so forth. I don’t believe the Bible teaches that. I believe the Bible teaches moral accountability, and that man—of course the Calvinist would say, “Oh, yes, but man is responsible.” I don’t know how you can be responsible when you are caused to do something.
Tom: Dave, one of the things I find really curious about Palmer—people said, “Well, you’re just talking about hyper-Calvinists, extreme Calvinists.” But the Palmer book was recommended to you because he was a moderate Calvinist.
Dave: No, this is, I would say, mainstream Calvinism. I’ve read many of them now. See, the reason that comes up, Tom, is because they cannot allow man to even respond to the gospel! That would be detracting from God’s glory. If I’m drowning, and you rescue me, I don’t see how I can have anything to boast about, or how I can be detracting from your capabilities and the wonderful thing you did in rescuing me by allowing you to rescue me! I don’t see if you want to give me . . . say you’re a multibillionaire, and you offered me . . . you hold out a check written to me for a million dollars, and I accept it, I don’t see how that glorifies me at all; how that can be a work that I did; how that can detract from the fact that it was your choice to give it to me. I didn’t force you to do it, I didn’t merit it, but simply to receive—rationally to receive a gift—I believe we have to allow man that capability, and I’m pointing it out here because otherwise we’re going to say that what Solomon did, everything he did, that was according to God’s choice, and God caused him to do it.
Tom, we often hear, “God is in control.” When things aren’t going right especially people comfort themselves: “Yeah, but God is still on the throne; God is in control.” Well, I believe that, but He was in control when Satan rebelled, wasn’t He? Wasn’t God sovereign then? Wasn’t He on His throne? Wasn’t He on his throne when Adam and Eve rebelled and followed Satan and his lies?
So, what does it mean that God is in control? Is He in control so that He causes everything to happen that ever happens? This is mainstream Calvinism. No, man has a genuine choice to make. So, Solomon made a choice.
Tom: Dave, the verse that I think about with regard to this is Philippians:2:5. Now, if Solomon was not predestined to do what he did, as you said, he had a choice. Look at Philippians:2:5: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Now, I did a word study—the King James uses “mind” here, but the New American Standard uses “attitude,” but you find that word, it really means “Where are your affections?” For example, I think it’s in Colossians:3:2, it says, “Set your affections on things above.” To me, that means, “Were’s your passion? Where’s your heart, your desires?”
So, I can have all the wisdom and all the understanding, and that’s really good. I mean, we encourage people to search the scriptures and to always be ready to have an answer for people. Apologetics, all of that—but it’s nothing unless we have . . . we’re going to go awry, we’re going to go astray, unless we have a heart for what God wants.
Dave: He wants our heart, Tom, and Solomon talks about it. Well, you just read it: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and He will direct thy paths.”
Tom: Dave, that’s volitional. We have to keep doing that.
Dave: Right, you get the scriptures in Colossians:1:29, Paul talks about “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and what He has worked out for us, and then he says, “Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” It’s not just that I an automaton or I’m a puppet. It’s not just that God causes me to do everything, but He wants me, and He works . . . it's the power of His Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I must confess, “Lord, I can do nothing. I am nothing. I can do nothing except what you empower me to do.” I can’t even draw a breath, even an unsaved person, except God allows this—God gives us the strength to do it.
But on the other hand, I must willingly cooperate, and, as you said, passionately—is there a passion in my heart to know God, to know His Word, to love Him, to follow Him, to love others as He loves them, and to bring others His truth to them? Why does He say, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found?” I know the scripture says “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God,” but as we read the Scriptures, that has to be man’s normal bent. But God calls upon man, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near!” And He’s talking not to Christians, even to the “elect,” if you want to look at it that way, but He says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him.” So you get the same thought there in Philippians 3, where he says, “Work out your own salvation.” Now it’s not working for your salvation, but we are working out in our lives the salvation that God has given us as Solomon was to work . . .
Tom: Saved unto good works—we’ve got lots to do.
Dave: Exactly, Ephesians:2:10—exactly as Solomon was to work out in his life the wisdom that God gave him. He still had a responsibility. So Paul says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that works in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure.”
So there is a wonderful . . . partnership—do I dare say that? Paul says we are workers together with God, and God wants to work through me. He wants to work through me in the power of His Holy Spirit. He wants to bring blessing to others, but I must be willing. This must be my passion, and if I want the things of this world—Solomon started out right. He didn’t ask for riches, he didn’t ask for fame. All he wanted—he wanted to help others, that’s what he wanted. He actually wanted the wisdom so that he could judge Israel. And you know the most famous example there, was the ladies with the babies. And what he said was just tremendous: “Well, we’ll cut it in half.” Well, that was the way to find out which was the true mother of that baby.
Well, Tom where are we? It speaks to my heart, I can tell you that.
Tom: Dave, the article for March, which I wrote, is titled, “Where’s Your Head and Your Heart?” We can have lots of knowledge, and we know lots of great leaders in the Christian church who have so much knowledge. Many of these individuals, who promote Calvinism, brilliant people, but there are some simple things that it seems to me that they are missing.
Dave: Some obvious inconsistencies.
Tom: Right. Well, that can happen to any of us, and when I look at my own life, with my inconsistencies, I can tell you that many of them come because, well, I had head knowledge, but I really didn’t have a heart for what God says and what He wants. I had my own agenda.
Dave: Tom, that comes to mind every time I speak at a conference. I’m at a prophecy conference, for example. People are there, many meetings, maybe for three days. They’re filled with knowledge, but then, what is the heart to go out and live this?