The story we hear today about King Solomon is, at least in my estimation, the most attractive of all the stories about him. There is much in the story that would recommend him to us as if not the greatest king of Israel, at least one of the greatest. Much has been made of Solomon’s wisdom and how it was exercised during his reign.
At the same time, I find it particularly difficult to think of him as a wise man, for when it came to his primary task as king, he failed miserably. The king was supposedly the representative of God. It was incumbent upon him to rule in such a way as to safeguard Israel’s special relationship with God. The covenant between God and the people of Israel contained the principles upon which the king was to reign. Yet it was the very first of the commandments of that covenant that was the undoing of Solomon. He allowed his foreign wives to bring their false gods into Israel and to continue to worship them. Ultimately, this idolatry spread to the rest of Israel and led to a history filled with corrupt kings.
The responsorial this morning begs us to pray: “Lord, teach me your statutes.” Would that Solomon had put this prayer into action!
The story also reinforces another truth; namely, the providence and the generosity of God. God blesses Solomon with wisdom, but God also grants him long life, success over his enemies, riches, and the esteem of other kings and queens. While it is true that Solomon himself never forsook his allegiance to God, his failure to keep his wives and courtiers from forsaking God is hardly an example of gratitude for all that God had done for him.
How much more has God done for us in giving us His Only-Begotten Son to be our Savior. God’s generosity to us cannot be equaled. May we show our gratitude by learning the lesson of God’s commands and statutes.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator