Jesus was tempted when He was in the wilderness for forty days. He was able to counteract the devil’s claims with the truth—the scriptures. The devil tried to use His hunger to tempt Him but, Jesus said, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4) God’s word is food for the soul. The devil tried to tempt Jesus with worldly possessions if He would worship him. Jesus’ reply was, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
When we worship God, we have no need for worldly things. When a person dies these possessions are left behind. The riches we receive from God when we follow Him surpass any riches of this world. God’s riches are for the spirit—joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These things we can take with us to Heaven. These are what Paul called the “fruit of the spirit” and once we have these things we would no longer look to the world we live in for sustenance. Material things or worldly pleasures don’t bring us lasting joy. They only drive us further away from God. Solomon’s love for foreign women and worship of their gods led him astray. He realised this when he wrote the book of Proverbs, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing. And one makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” (Proverbs 13:7)
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are the riches and honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
Spirit vs. Flesh. Throughout the Bible we see people who live by the spirit and people who live by the flesh and what the outcome is. Noah was a righteous man who believed in God and obeyed Him. When he was asked to build and ark, he did as he was told and he and his family were protected from the flood. Abraham was a man of strong faith. He trusted God and obeyed Him when God called him out of his home country to settle in a strange land. He was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac when God asked Him to. His was a steadfast faith. The men were surrounded by corruption and sin yet they remained faithful to God. Abraham was not interested in worldly things (Genesis 14:22-24). God took care of his needs. What God had to offer him was worth much more than possessions. God offered him a son and land. God made covenants with Noah and Abraham. He blessed them both. He set a rainbow, as a sign of the covenant He made that a flood will never destroy life again. (Genesis 9:12-17) God’s covenant with Abraham was land for his descendants. These two men did not allow themselves to be touched by the immorality and corruption of the world around them. They walked with God.
In the beginning Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord. He asked God for wisdom so that he could govern the people well. (Kings 3:7-9) He built the temple for God. He got daily provisions from the different countries and the people ate, drank and were happy. There was peace on all sides.
He said a prayer of dedication to God, acknowledging that God keeps His covenant with those who continue wholeheartedly in His way, that He kept His promise to David. Solomon asked God to hear His people’s prayers and pleas when they have sinned against him. Solomon acknowledged that there was no one who does not sin. It is a fact that no one was free of sin—not even a wise king. Jesus was the only One who was without sin until He took on ours. Solomon was admired for his wisdom and he was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. (1 Kings 10:6-10, 23-25)
Then, Solomon’s fleshly desires took over—his weakness for foreign women turned his heart after their gods so that he was not fully devoted to God anymore. He intermarried with the very people God had told the Israelites not to intermarry because they would turn their hearts to other gods. Solomon built a high place for these gods, burnt incense and offered sacrifices. Solomon had been forbidden to follow other gods but he wilfully disobeyed the Lord’s command. As a result, there were rebellions against Solomon and all the kingdoms except one,Jerusalem, were taken away from him. It was because of God’s promise to David who never turned away from Him to worship other gods, that Solomon remained ruler all the days of his life and he was able to keep one tribe.
If Solomon had followed this advice, things would have turned out very differently, “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction, For whom he Lord loves He corrects just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:7-8, 11-12).