After Solomon humbled himself before God with his simple request for wisdom to lead God’s people instead of riches, power, or pleasure, God approved his request but then added all the things that Solomon didn’t ask for. 2 Chronicles 1:14-17, ends with this: “Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. And Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king’s traders would buy them from Kue for a price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver and a horse for 150. Likewise, through them, these were exported to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.” The hordes of silver and gold, along with the multiple horses, demonstrated that God kept his promise to Solomon to give him the wealth that he didn’t ask for.  Yet the law forbids the accumulating of these things, for they would tend to turn the king’s heart from God. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 says, speaking of the King, “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.”

Solomon asked God for something else later in life. He learned that having too much was as bad as having too little.  In verses 8-9 of Chapter 30 of the book of Proverbs, He prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Then, even later in his life, Solomon applied this truth even to religion. He said, in Ecclesiastes 7:17-18, “Be not overly righteous and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked; neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this.” Smith says, “The ethical emphasis of Ecclesiastes is on the golden mean of conduct. Koheleth did not want his readers to go to seed, to become fanatics, to become so narrowly focused that they could not appreciate all that life has to offer. Moderation in all things was his motto.”[1]

This wisdom that Solomon said was good for us to “take hold of” Was also the subject that the writer of the Book of Hebrews addressed in Chapter 12, Verses 1-3. He tells us that too much of anything slow us down in our walk with God.  He says that the accumulation of too much stuff will become “obstacles” to a healthy spiritual life. The Greek word for “obstacles” in this passage means “protuberance.”  “A protuberance is a tumor or swelling, an excess growth. So the idea seems to be that we should lay aside anything that is superfluous, that we do not need, in order to run the race successfully. Too much of anything, even any good thing, should be left behind. This is a call to moderation in order to keep in spiritual shape so that we can run with endurance.”[2] I can’t imagine any society needing this wisdom more than our own. Bowman well said, “Moderation is the badge of the righteous. We live in a world where excesses are not only available but promoted as stylish.”[3]

[1] Smith, James E. 1996. The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.

[2] Constable, Tom. 2003. Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible. Galaxie Software.

[3] Bowman, Dee. 1995. “Front Lines: Repetitions and Rewards.” Christianity Magazine, 1995.