Covetousness Lesson 14: KING SOLOMON

Solomon

King Solomon was the richest king who ever lived (1 Kings 3:10-13; 2 Chr. 1:11-12).  He was beloved of God (2 Sam. 7:13-15). The name Solomon means peaceful, and he was the builder of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. He also was the first king of Israel to trade commercial goods profitably with other nations, and was the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.

According to the chronology in 1 Kings 11:42, Solomon was about 20 years old when he was crowned King over Israel. He assumed leadership of Israel from his father King David at a time of great material and spiritual prosperity. During his 40-year reign (970 B.C.—930 B.C.), he expanded his kingdom until it covered about 50,000 square miles-from Egypt in the south to Syria in the north to the borders of Mesopotamia in the east.

Among the first acts of King Solomon was offering sacrifice at Gibbeon. God appeared to the new king at night and asked him, “What shall I give thee?” Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge the people of Israel and the ability to tell good from evil. God not only granted Solomon’s request, but He also promised him riches and honor if he would walk in the steps of his father, David (1 Kings 3:4-15).

Despite his good standing and his blessings, King Solomon disobeyed more than one command of God given to the children of Israel (Deut. 17:15-20).

Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. 17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. 18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel (Deut. 17:15-20).

If Solomon had studied the Law like David his father (Psa. 1:2), would he have brought horses from Egypt? He not only brought them for himself but also for the kings of the Hittites and of Syria, whose favor he coveted. The Law of Moses forbade this action, and the prophets also warned the people of the consequences of disobedience.

Deuteronomy 17:16—But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

1 Kings 10:28—And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.

2 Chronicles 1:14-17—And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, which he placed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. 15 And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the vale for abundance. 16 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price. 17 And they fetched up, and brought forth out of Egypt a chariot for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so brought they out horses for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, by their means.

2 Chronicles 9:27-28—And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance. 28 And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all lands.

Isaiah 31:1—Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!

Ezekiel 17:15—But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered?

Amos 4:10—I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

Why did Solomon take to himself 700 wives and 300 concubines?  At the dedication of the temple God assured Solomon that his prayers had been heard and that the temple had been blessed. At the same time He warned Solomon that the divine favor and protection, which had been bestowed upon Israel, would continue only if their faith remained uncorrupted. If Solomon or anyone introduced idolatry, Israel would be punished and the temple would be destroyed (1 Kings 9:1-9).  Not only did Solomon disobey the command not to multiply wives, but he also disobeyed the command not to introduce idolatry into the land. How could he rationalize his behavior?

From a deeper study of Solomon’s life, we know that trade with other nations was another of his contributions to the nation of Israel, but it also contributed to his disobedience in marrying foreign women. Solomon entered into trade agreements with a number of nations, increasing Israel’s wealth and prestige. Although Solomon had a strong army, he relied upon a system of treaties with his neighbors to keep the peace.

Egypt was allied with Israel through the marriage of Solomon to the daughter of the Pharaoh. The sea-faring cities of Tyre and Sidon were also united to Israel by trade agreements. Some of Israel’s trade was conducted overland by way of camel caravans. But the most significant trade was by sea, across the Mediterranean Sea through an alliance with Tyre. Solomon’s ships apparently went as far west as Spain to bring back silver. Soon Solomon became the ruler of a huge commercial empire.

Obviously Solomon became a victim of his own trade agreements. By custom, beautiful women were awarded to the most powerful member of a treaty to seal the covenant.[i] The constant influx of wives and concubines in Solomon’s court led eventually to his downfall (1 Kings 11:1-4), and we read that Solomon clave to these in love. Thus, Solomon broke the Law of Moses and violated the specific warning not to stray from the path of his father David. The scriptures are clear that Solomon understood the danger.

We read in 2 Chronicles 8:11—And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come. No doubt the large number of foreign women in Solomon’s court made many demands upon the king. Eventually he allowed these “outsiders” to practice their pagan religions. The result was that Jerusalem, and even its holy Temple, was the scene of pagan practices and idol worship (1 Kings 11:1-13). Solomon’s own faith was weakened. Later we read that he approved of, and even participated in, these idolatrous acts. The example he set for the rest of the nation must have been demoralizing.

1 Kings 11:1-5—But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

Ecclesiastes 7:27-28—Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. Another law which Solomon disobeyed had to do with the amount of gold he brought back to Jerusalem.  He brought 666 talents of gold each year

1 Kings 10:14—Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold.

2 Chronicles 9:13-14—Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold; Beside that which chapmen and merchants brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.

Later King Solomon himself acknowledged the uselessness of accumulating more and more

Eccl 5:10-12—He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.  When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?  The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.


[i] (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

What is Gambling? (part 1)

Gambling

(Outline notes taken from a sermon on the same topic)

I. Gambling Defined

  1. Legal – “Gaming or playing for money; or betting on the result of a game; the playing of a game of chance or skill for stakes.”
  2. Dictionary – “To play or game for money or other stake; to hazard; wager. Connected with gambling is the strong element of uncertainty, the large chance of losing.”
  3. Popular View – “Getting something for nothing without rendering service or exchange of goods and is essentially stealing and a form of robbery.”
  4. Psychiatrists – “A compulsion. Habitual gambling is a mark of a disturbed personality, an undesirable character trait.”
  5. Summary – Gambling involves three parts:
  • Chance is a major element. Some skill may be needed.
  • A prize or payoff in cash or merchandise.
  • To be eligible for the prize something must be placed at risk.

IRONIES OF OUR CULTURE

One of the ironies of our culture is that we move from a holiday focused on being thankful for the things we have, to a holiday marked by frenetic shopping and the pursuit of more ‘things.’ We should be mindful of the great sin of covetousness and also make sure we have the proper perspective on gift giving.

Merriam-Webster online defines ‘covetousness’ as: feeling or showing a very strong desire for something that you do not have and especially for something that belongs to someone else. It’s important we understand the sin is not limited to a focus on what other people have, but it can also involve our existing possessions. Jesus warned of the little talked about sin of covetousness; “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).  He then went on to give a parable about a rich man who God called a ‘fool’ because he stored up many things for himself and was not rich toward God (Luke 12:16-21). The murder of Naboth was due to Ahab and Jezebel’s covetousness and should stand as a stark reminder of where the sin can lead. (1 Kings 21).

It may be surprising to some, but covetousness is listed among the most grievous sins.  When we understand that it is idolatry, it becomes more clear how God views it. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). One of the great indictments against the people that Jeremiah spoke against was that, “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely” (Jer. 6:11). We must be careful as we deal with our desires regarding the material things of this life.

Scripture does not condemn gift giving but we should consider those to whom we give, as well as when we ‘exchange’ gifts.  The Proverbs make a startling comparison on those that give gifts to ‘the rich.’ “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want” (Prov. 22:16).  While none of us may consider ourselves ‘rich’, compared so some in this country and certainly in the world, that characterization would still be accurate. Sometimes giving to the rich was seen as a way to ‘prime the pump’ in order to receive something better in return. In other cases, it was associated with buying influence or bribing someone. Whatever the case, those words are true.

Exchanging gifts, is not the same as giving to those who are poor and can’t repay us. Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt 5:46). The money we spend on gift exchanges should certainly not be counted for our contribution to God! Giving gifts or having material possessions is not wrong but as always, we must guard our heart in all we do. –Matthew Johnson

Review Questions

QUESTIONS based on Micah. 2:2—And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

(Cross references for Mic. 2:2)

they covet fields,

  1. Exod. 20:17–What things was a man under the Old Law not to covet?  Is this different than 1 Corinthians 5:10-11?
  2. 1 Kings 21:2-19–What did Ahab covet and what was he willing to do to obtain his desire?  Does covetousness encourage us toward loving our neighbor or hating him?
  3. Job 31:38-40–Job wishes a curse upon himself if he has taken anything by covetousness.  IF he had taken anything by covetousness, what would have happened to him?
  4. Isa. 5:8–Considering what these people have taken, what benefit is it that they own all these things?  See also Ecclesiastes 5:11.
  5. Jer. 22:13-19–How were Josiah and his son, Jehoiakim different?  In what way did Josiah know the Lord and Jehoiakim not know the Lord (vs. 16-17)? Why would Jehoiakim have the burial of an ass?
  6. Amos 8:4-6–What were the covetous people doing in this passage?
  7. Hab. 2:2-9–In the vision which the Lord gave to Habakkuk, what kind of man is being described?  What would happen to him (vss. 8 & 9)?
  8. 1 Tim 6:10–What will happen to those who love money and covet after it?

so they

  1. Exod. 22:21-27—List the ways a man may be covetous and tell what punishment would follow.
  2. 2 Kings 9:222-26—Why did Jehu kill Jehoram and where did they cast his body?
  3. Neh. 5:1-8—During a time of famine, the nobles and rulers took advantage of the poor.  What did they do?
  4. Job 24:2-12—What things did the violent, covetous men do to the people?
  5. Ezek. 18:12—What kinds of things did this man’s son do?
  6. Ezek. 22:12—In “the bloody city” what were the nobles doing to the people?
  7. Mic. 3:9-12—What were the heads of the house of Jacob doing in Israel?  What was to be the punishment?
  8. Mal. 3:5—What did the Lord promise to do to the covetous?  What others were in the same category?
  9. Matt 23:14—What were the Pharisees doing in Jesus time?  What curse did Jesus pronounce on them?

oppress a man and his house,

  1. 1 Sam. 12:3-4—When Samuel was trying to reason with the people about their need for a king, what argument did he use to prove his integrity?

Just how odious is the sin of covetousness to our Heavenly Father?  Read the following scriptures and judge.

  • “And he said, That which      cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil      thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness,      wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride,      foolishness: All these evil things      come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:20-23).
  • “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life      consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke      12:15).
  • “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,      God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not      convenient;
  • 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full      of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers…” (Rom. 1:28-29).
  • “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth;      fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).
  • “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor      a cloke of covetousness; God is witness” (1 Thess. 2:5).
  • “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with      such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor      forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
  • “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make      merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and      their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:3).

Consider other strong admonitions against the sin of covetousness:

  • “Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun. There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail (Eccl. 4:7-8).
  • He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes” (Eccl. 5:10-11)?
  • “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it” (Hab. 2:9-11).
  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous [Strongs: not fond of silver – 866 = (not) + 53660, as in Lk 1614) (1 Tim 3:2-3).
  • “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:5).
  • “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10).
  • “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre (Titus 1:7).

COVETOUSNESS: First Review

We all know that discipline of unrighteous members should be carried out within the body of Christ.  There are certain things that a man may do which not only make him repugnant to God but also would corrupt the body of Christ, the church.

Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Cor. 5:10-13).

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:3-5).

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

Examples from scripture show how covetousness affects the work and ultimately the destiny of specific men and women.  We have studied these accounts to find out how we compare and how we can avoid being caught up in the same traps.

EXAMPLES WE HAVE STUDIED

  1. Eve, in desiring the forbidden fruit
  2. Lot, in choosing the plain of the Jordan
  3. Laban
    • In giving Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife
    • In deceiving Jacob when he served him seven years for Rachel
    • In deceiving Jacob in his wages
  4. Esau
    • Coveted food
    • Gave away his birthright
  5. Pharaoh and the Egyptians
    • Coveted slaves (human bodies to serve them)
    • Coveted their property during the famine
  6. Ahab covets the vineyard of Naboth
  7. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha coveted clothing and money (2 Kings 5)
  8. Ahaz in coveting an altar of a heathen (conquered) nation (2 Kings 16:9-20)
    • Required Urijah to build one like it before the temple in Jerusalem
    • Worshipped at the new altar every evening
  9. Balaam, in loving the wages of unrighteousness
  10. Achan, in hiding the treasure
  11. Eli’s sons, in taking the flesh of the sacrifice, and Samuel’s sons, in taking bribes
  12. Saul, in sparing, Agag and the booty
  13. David coveted Bathsheba

DIFFERENT WORDS USED FOR COVETOUSNESS:

OT:2530 chamad (khaw-mad’); a primitive root; to delight in: KJV – beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, (X great) delight, desire, goodly, lust, (be) pleasant (thing), precious (thing).

OT:183 ‘avah (aw-vaw’); a primitive root; to wish for: KJV – covet, (greatly) desire, be desirous, long, lust (after).

NT:1937 epithumeo (ep-ee-thoo-meh’-o); from NT:1909 and NT:2372; to set the heart upon, i.e. long for (rightfully or otherwise):KJV – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).

NT:2206 zeloo (dzay-lo’-o) or zeleuo (dzay-loo’-o); from NT:2205; to have warmth of feeling for or against: KJV – affect, covet (earnestly), (have) desire, (move with) envy, be jealous over, (be) zealous (-ly affect)

GREEK DICTIONARY DEFINITION:

pleonexia (pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah); from NT:4123; avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion: covetous (-ness) practices, greediness.

beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, (X great) delight, desire, goodly, lust, (be) pleasant (thing), precious (thing).

ENGLISH DICTIONARY DEFINITION:

cov•et “k€-v€t verb [ME coveiten, fr. OF coveitier, fr. coveitié desire, modif. of L cupiditat-, cupiditas, fr. cupidus desirous, fr. cupere to desire] (14c)

verb transitive

1 : to wish for enviously

2 : to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably

verb intransitive

: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another

: to wish for enviously

: to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably

verb intransitive: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another syn see desire

cov•et•ous  adjective

1 : marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions

2 : having a craving for possession <covetous of power>

Synonyms

covetous, greedy, acquisitive, grasping, avaricious mean having or showing a strong desire for esp. material possessions.

covetous implies inordinate desire often for another’s possessions <covetous of his brother’s country estate>.

greedy stresses lack of restraint and often of discrimination in desire <greedy for status symbols>.

acquisitive implies both eagerness to possess and ability to acquire and keep <an eagerly acquisitive mind>.

grasping adds to covetous and greedy an implication of selfishness and often suggests unfair or ruthless means <a hard grasping trader who cheated the natives>.

avaricious implies obsessive acquisitiveness esp. of money and strongly suggests stinginess <an avaricious miser>.