Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Prov. 3: 5-7)
These words were written by Solomon, to whom God had given extraordinary wisdom, understanding and discernment. God had appeared to Solomon twice, and was prepared to continue pouring out His blessing to this king and his people.
Yet, despite the fact that he had been given more than any man before or after him, Solomon eventually fell into the trap of being wise in his own eyes. He preached truth to others, but didn’t end up practising what he preached.
Solomon ignored God’s Word that the king “should not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deut 17:17), and that Israelites shouldn’t marry foreign women. Instead, Solomon took 700 wives and 300 concubines, including a great number who weren’t from Israel. Before his life ended, they had led him into worshipping a host of idols, resulting in his spiritual downfall.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
(Prov 4: 23, 25-27)
Solomon’s downfall came because he ignored God’s Word and his own advice. Perhaps all the honor he was given because of his wisdom convinced Solomon he was wise enough to run his own life his own way – the essence of the rebellion that first brought sin and death into the world. He neglected to guard his heart against Satan’s incursions; he turned from the firm path God had set out; he took his eyes off God; and in his pride he swerved off the straight and narrow and fell into the murky bog of blatant idolatry.
We too can become complacent, convinced that our spiritual lives are sufficiently mature to make our own decisions. We must always guard against leaning on our own understanding; against feeling immune to Satan’s attacks and our own weakness.
The story of Solomon is the ultimate cautionary tale – relived by some very “successful” modern-day preachers who have been led astray to worship wealth, sex, or power. We may not be in spiritual leadership, but we too can fall if we become proud and satisfied with our own spiritual state.
Paul wrote a very wise prayer for the Ephesian church: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Eph 1:17). This is the goal of true wisdom: not to know things better, but to know God better, by looking to His Own Holy Spirit. When we know God as He can be known, we will see all earthly things from His perspective, and therefore be truly wise.