14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, 15 besides that which came from the explorers and from the business of the merchants, and from all the kings of the west and from the governors of the land. 18 The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with the finest gold. 21 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon.
23 Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 1 Kings 10:14-15, 18,21,23 ESV
When Solomon as a young king was visited by God in a dream, God asked him what He could give him. Solomon asked for wisdom to help him rule instead of personal riches, so God decided to give him both in abundance.
Thus began such an influx of gold into the palace that Solomon really did not know what to do with it all. He received 666 talents of it each year, (an interesting number), which is around a billion dollars or Euros received each year when valued in today’s money.
Solomon used the gold to cover everything. There was so much gold, the scripture says, that silver was not even worth notice.
The problem with having so much money around is that, contrary to what we might expect, it breeds a discontentment with life.
The apostle Paul addressed this in his first letter to his young mentee, Timothy.
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NKJV
One of the misconceptions about the Bible is that it calls money the root of all evil. That is not what it says. Money is a necessity for every ministry, and for the ongoing sustenance of the vulnerable people that God watches over so carefully – the widows, orphans, and sojourners.
What the Bible does say about money is as follows:
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV
God’s word tells us that the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Thus, like Solomon, we too face a great challenge when we are blessed with more money than we had before – how do we use it in a godly and healthy manner? Are we tempted to fall in love with the extra money and out of love with God?
One important concept which the Bible champions is personal contentment. Satisfaction and gratitude for the blessings God has given us are key. These thread through almost all the discussions of money in the Bible, and there are several. The implication is that the more money we have, the more we want, and the less contentment we have.
The author of the book of Hebrews puts it this way:
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV
How are we to treat money? Where do I draw the line between earning or gaining the money I need to live on and starting to fall in love with the concept of gaining ever more money?
God wants us to be blessed in life. A little prosperity at times goes a long way towards life’s enjoyment. It may permit a special meal with the family or some time away from our labor for a time of rest and rehabilitation.
But when gaining more prosperity becomes the major obsession of our lives, it can drain away all of our appreciation for the rich blessings that God has already given us to enjoy. It can soak up our free time and demand our exclusive focus, leading us further and further away from time with God, the Giver of all good things.
As Solomon’s life went on, he drew away from the God who had placed him on Israel’s throne, and began to worship the other gods of his many wives instead. Did his vast wealth play a role in this? Did God make a mistake by giving him too much wealth, and did it contribute to his eventual spiritual slide? What if Solomon had used his vast riches for good instead of for accumulating and covering over expensive things – would Israel’s future kings have succeeded?
We do not know the answer to these things, although we do know that God does not make mistakes. But unfortunately for Solomon, who reigned over the height of Israel’s great kingdom age, he would begin their slide away from God and towards their downfall and captivity at the hands of Assyria and Babylon.
But as Romans 9-11 and many unfulfilled Old Testament prophecies tell us, God is not through with Israel yet. We hope to look at several of these prophecies in future meditations.
We often believe that if God gave us great wealth, we would be different from others and share it with everyone around us in need. But would we really? Most of us are not immune from the love of money that comes our way. It is a temptation that we all must consider.
Is money demanding more and more of our time and attention as we seek to safeguard it and to multiply it?
Lord, guide me in my financial decisions. Help me to use wisdom and to place You first in my daily spiritual and financial life. Amen.