Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Solomon: Wise Ruler or Totalitarian Dictator? This Week in the Twible (1 Kings 1-6)

2378912384_f95a7c65e5.jpgI have a like-hate relationship with Solomon. He’s a Tony Soprano character, ruthless on the one hand while unexpectedly blessed with wisdom on the other.

How does Solomon get to be king, anyway? He’s fourth in line. He’s that guy that nobody thought would be in line for the throne unless every male in the royal family blew up in the same chariot crash or something. Near the end of 2 Samuel we read of the deaths of the A-listers. Here’s the bottom line: if you’re David’s son and your name starts with A, you’re not going to ever see that crown. Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah . . . all are goners.


The great irony of all this is that Solomon is the surviving son of David’s marriage with Bathsheba, the most infamous of all his wives and concubines. David’s sin with Bathsheba (and his assassination of her unfortunate husband Uriah) threatened to destroy the kingdom . . . yet it’s David’s other sons who pay the price, not the one who is the direct fruit of the union with Bathsheba. Interesting. And surprising.

As king, Solomon goes out of his way to stick it to the people.

Those palaces and temples with gold inlay don’t come cheap. They’re paid for by high taxation and by slave labor. Solomon doesn’t just continue his father’s practice of making slaves out of conquered peoples; he makes slaves out of some of his own people, the Israelites, who are forced to work on the temple or join the military.


Solomon also forsakes God. You know it’s a slippery slope when he allows his 300 (!) wives and 700 (!) concubines to build altars to their foreign gods. Pretty soon Solomon is joining in.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Israel. The prophet Samuel had warned them that kingships usually devolves into exploitation of the people, but they wanted a king so badly they just said, “Great! Where do we sign?” But no one could have predicted that Solomon would make Pharaoh look like a sweet puppy dog.

Sat 7/31
#Twible overview of 1 Kings: Solomon holds monarchy together, but it’s splitsville after his death. N & S kingdoms w/lots of wicked kings.

Sun 8/1
#Twible 1 Kgs 1: Son #3 plots vs. Dav. (Why’d he want so many sons, anyway?) But #4 son Sol wins king sweepstakes. We predict big things.


Mon 8/2
#Twible 1 Kgs 2: Dying Dav advises Sol to follow Torah, but also to murder rivals now while he still can. So spiritual, yet so practical.

Tues 8/3
#Twible 1 Kgs 3: Sol marries Phar’s girl & thinks he should Walk Like an Egyptian. New temple seen on “Lifestyles of the Rich & Infamous.”

Wed 8/4
#Twible 1 Kgs 4: Mafia Wars! Sol’s the man you can’t refuse AND the wise author of 300+ proverbs abt simplicity & family values. Go figure.

Thurs 8/5
#Twible 1 Kgs 5: “Forced labor” is nice way of saying “Slaves R Us.” Sol gives Phar run for $$ in race for who’s more cruel. It’s a toss-up.

Fri 8/6
#Twible 1 Kgs 6: Holy, holy, holy? G’s private spa inside temple is decked out w/gold everywhere & Levite masseuse trained in Sweden.

Tune into Flunking Sainthood every Friday for weekly Twible studies. Next week: Bye-bye, united monarchy.

  • Charles Cosimano

    There was nothing wise about Solomon.

  • nnmns

    Ah, the Bible. So kinky and yet so … kinky.

  • R

    You and I must be reading a different version of 1 Kings:
    –How did Solomon get to be King, anyway? Because desite being the son of David and Bathsheba, God put him on the throne. You can take your quarrel up with Him.
    –God so favored Solomon that the Bible says that God imbued him with wisdom beyond taht to which any of us can aspire.
    –Solomon does not “stick it” to his people. Although the Bible describes building the Temple what appears to be forced labor as well as with the finest materials available, Solomon and the builders of the Temple were following God’s explicit instructions. As long as they were following God’s exlicit instructions, there should eb no way for you to describe what Solomon did as “sticking it” to his people. In addition, the Bible does not record any unrest amongst those who built the Temple–which you might expect if the worker felt that Solomon was ‘sticking it” to them.
    –After building the Temple to God’s explicit instructions, God granted Solomon and Israel untold wealth and power as a sign if His pleasure with their endeavor.
    –The Bible says that Solomon’s downfall came after he began consorting with non-Israelite women who worship false gods.

  • nnmns

    Doesn’t it kind of put you off a god that wants all that finery in its honor? Doesn’t it sound more like it was written by someone who wanted to work in a place like that?

  • john willis

    In regards to the question asked by this post and your earlier post on why there are so many endings to the Book of Samuel— keep in mind that most Bible Scholars are convinced that many different sources were used to composed these books. Some were pro-monarchy and some were anti-monarchy. Thes sources are all mixed up in these books.
    Also remember that these books reached their final form in the Exile after the Kingdom of Judah had been destroyed and a large part of the population deported. The Jewish People were asking the question “Where did we go wrong?” For some the answer was the institution of the monarchy itself. For others the monarchy, particularly David’s line was oradained of God. For others the problem was bad kings who did not follow their interpretation of the law.

  • DMc

    For nnmns,
    Our bodies are quite extrordinary. If we take care of ouselves through proper nutrition and exercise while avoiding habit forming substances, barring any congenital disorders, we can expect to live to the age of 100 or greater. Surely time enough, if one puts their mind to it, for a person to perfect themselves by putting away their selfishness. I believe God the Father and his Only Beggoten Son to be responsible for the crafting of the body my spirit dwells within.
    The Israelites were responsible for crafting a dwelling for the Spirit Jehovah, whom I believe to be the pre-mortal Spirit of Jesus. If Jehovah asked for that dwelling to be extrordinary, who were the Israelites not to return the favor. The synagogues were not crafted like the Temples.
    I know the Bible never explains it that way but most of what is to be learned from the Bible is between the lines or hidden in symbolism. It takes a leap of faith to see the big picture. Still no one gets the complete answers without the Second Comforter. A distance my faith still cannot span. So, I could be wrong. I just don’t expect the Messiah to be a selfish King, based on what is found in the Four Gospels. Therefore, I tried to not make up my mind about Temple opulence until I found an answer that fit. I feel I have.

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