David and Solomon - the Heart of God

Here were two kings, father and son. Both of them had this incredible start in life, each totally different, but nevertheless spectacular and so in tune with God, that we would be excused for believing that it would be utterly unthinkable for them to stuff things up. 

Yet both of them did.

The difference between the two has some very important lessons to teach all of us, and can give us a remarkable insight into the heart of God.


Who hasn't heard the story of David and Goliath? David's brothers were at the frontline of battle with the Philistines.  David, the youngest, goes out to bring them provisions and ends up slaying with a slingshot this giant Philistine warrior, who had the entire Israeli army shaking in their boots.  God was with him all the way and David's faith was unshakable. 

So, what happened? David wanted to build God a temple, but he never did and passed the buck to his son Solomon.  Somewhere along the line things went wrong. David had many wives, but still managed to covet someone else's. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and sent her husband to the frontline of battle, knowing he would surely be killed (an act of murder with intent and total abuse of his position of power). He never enjoyed peace in his lifetime again, constantly at war with one nation or another.

And, weird as it may seem to our way of thinking, this adulterous relationship is the genealogical line God chose to birth Jesus.  And in Acts 13:22 God calls David a man after His own heart.


The Lord loved Solomon and Solomon loved the Lord. One night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he would like.  Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge his people wisely and to discern between good and evil.  God was so pleased with the unselfishness of the request that besides great wisdom, He also gave him riches, honour and long life, on the condition he would continue to obey God's commandments. Who hasn't heard the story of the baby claimed by two women as their own (1 Kings 3) and the simple wisdom Solomon used to determine the real mother? Solomon built the temple that David should have.  He is the author of most of the Proverbs.

But he is also believed to be the author of Ecclesiastes.  I often wondered why such a book would be included in the Bible.  "Vanity, vanity.  All is vanity!" cries the Preacher.“ “Work hard or don't do anything, and it makes no difference.” “Try hard or don't try at all.” “There's nothing new under the sun.” “When deciding between the dead and the living, it is better never to have existed at all!” The author obviously had reached a stage in his life where cynical disillusionment had all but destroyed him.   While we like to quote Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, if we really took into consideration the context in which it was written, we would be hard pressed to find anything positive in any of it.  What on earth happened?

Solomon, the Bible tells us, had a thousand wives and concubines (maybe he didn't want to be tempted the way his father was!!).   He brought in women from pagan countries and allowed them to import their idols.  Towards the end of his life he worshipped their gods.  It is beyond my understanding how a man so close to the Lord can fall away so completely.  I can only surmise that the wealth he possessed, and the power it bought, went to his head.  Pride took over, his God-given wisdom went out the window, and he started to show-off to the abundance of females in his life.  In the process, he defaulted on his part of the deal he had going with the Lord. It only goes to reiterate the terribly corruptive influence and deceitfulness of money.


Why was David a man after God's own heart, while Solomon ends up going to pot? The answer is a picture of the Gospel itself.  Solomon turns into a cynical old man with no faith left in the Lord.  I think the reason Ecclesiastes is in the Bible is to show what can happen if you allow corruptive influences into your life, somehow convincing yourself that you are immune to them. In that sense, the dark feelings expressed in the words of Ecclesiastes were still inspired by the Holy Spirit. David, on the other hand, repented of his wrongdoing.  He still had to bear the consequences of his actions, but the Lord forgave him when he cried out to Him.  The Psalms are full of David's repentance, praise for God, trust in Him and seeking His will.  When all was said and done, God looked at his heart, as He did when He first chose him (1 Sam.16:7).

Not so long ago, I had an evening with my children and asked what they thought was the worst sin anybody could commit.  In my book, it is paedophilia.  The abuse of trust of vulnerable little ones, before they have any defences or knowledge of right or wrong, and then scarring them for life for your own self-gratification, surely must be the worst thing anyone can do.  All three of my children chose that one. Drug trafficking would rate a close second - that creates its own vulnerable and dependent target group, while slowly killing them at the same time.

Yet for Jesus, hypocrisy was the only thing that managed to make Him angry.  And using God's house as a money-making business venture was the epitome of hypocrisy to Him. What was the worst sin one could commit as far as the Father was concerned? Having other gods before Him!  That was enough to make Him willing to flood the whole planet or make Him abandon His Chosen People into slavery. Our God is a jealous God indeed! Solomon committed the sin of having other gods before Him. David didn't. It shows that what we consider to be the worst act is determined by our ingrained value system. Why doesn't God consider paedophilia the worst sin? Probably because He knows the exact circumstances that caused paedophiles to become that way.  Most likely, they themselves were victims of child abuse.

When we have strayed from the path, let's follow David's example rather than Solomon's, and repent from our selfishness.  There is no excuse for sin. Yet all of us still do. David was a murderer and adulterer.  In the end, God, in His mercy, looks at our heart.  And if He sees we are truly sorry and that our heart's intention is to not do that again, even if we do, He still forgives us over and over again.  But He also can tell if we're faking our repentant attitude.


David and Solomon both had a wonderful start in life.  But just like everyone else, they both stuffed up something dreadful. Neither of them deserved God’s mercy or forgiveness. Only the one who begged for it with a truly repentant heart, received it.

Jesus cried out on the cross for God to forgive us, as He was making the ultimate sacrifice. Because we now live in an age of Grace, we are fortunate to have a much better chance of redemption than either David or Solomon. But not through any of our own doing.  Christ's death was the ultimate demonstration of God's wisdom, God Himself paying the penalty for our transgression of His standards. This was a debt we ourselves could never pay. Through Jesus Christ, God established the only possible way for us to become acceptable in His sight - His own blood shed for us.

It takes divine revelation to truly appreciate the magnitude of what we are dealing with here. And when that revelation comes, chills run down our spine, tears fill our eyes and our mouth falls open in awed recognition of His immeasurable grace. It is only then that true repentance flows through our heart and He rewards that repentance by washing us clean.


God's wisdom is so much greater than man's thinking. Way beyond the wisdom of Solomon. All the 'great' philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. together can't touch the philosophy of one Person who never wrote a book and only shared His spoken wisdom for three years. The idea that God would die a human death out of love for us, sometimes actually sounds very strange to our way of thinking. Yet in a world filled with thousands of choices in life options, philosophies, religions, and value systems, God's own plan of redemption is the only thing on this planet that works.