Sometimes I feel sorry for Solomon. Yes, he was given wisdom beyond any other man. He had riches and success, people coming from all over the world to listen to him, to see what he did and said. He built the Temple of the Lord, known for centuries and even today as Solomon’s Temple. But he was, and always would be, David’s son. Solomon built but David planned and collected and prepared.
I feel sorry for him because I wonder if he felt overshadowed by his father. We might say he shouldn’t, that he ought to be grateful for what God had given him, for the many gifts he had been given by God. But being human I wonder.
I wonder if that says something about me? What it might reveal about the way I look at God and other Christians and my relationship with them? Do I feel overshadowed by those who have ‘bigger’ gifts than mine? Do I feel less useful, less important than those who are more visible in service? Do I feel more important than those who don’t do what I do?
Nothing is recorded to suggest that Solomon felt overshadowed and in fact the chapter says:
25 The Eternal exalted Solomon as a great ruler before all Israel and gave him royal majesty greater than any king before him in Israel.
The problem of comparing with others comes when we don’t have a proper recognition of who we are in God’s sight. When we look with resentment or judgement instead of just being grateful and obedient. The truth is everything we have is a gift from God, Jesus tells us our Father loves us and provides for us; Paul said in Romans 2:11 that God has no favourites. But we get disgruntled or even proud when it is all about Him and nothing about us. We live by faith not by what we earn. If God gave us what we had earned we would be in a very bad situation because the wages of sin is death. Instead, He gives us a gift – eternal life that comes by faith. (Romans 6:23)
When we compare ourselves with others the result and actually the cause, is a lack of love. We don’t love ourselves, we don’t love the other person and we aren’t loving God. David was a shepherd on a hillside with his harp, Solomon was a younger son – he should have inherited nothing, but by God’s hand both were raised to be great kings. Peter was a fisherman but Jesus called him and made him an apostle. Saul was a zealous student of the law, a persecutor of Christians destined for a place of authority among the Jews but God made him Paul (a name meaning small or humble) and he ended up a travelling evangelist, ultimately executed for his faith.
You and I come from different places with different paths through life, different experiences and obstacles. I shouldn’t compare myself to you as a measure of how successful or unsuccessful I am as a Christian. I am saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8), God gives me all I need to live a godly life (2Peter 1:3); scripture actually says that I no longer live but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). He lives in you. Instead of envying or boasting I should live that new life seeking only to be more like Him and doing as He commanded: loving God with all my soul heart and strength and loving my neighbour as myself.
I wonder how different our families, workplaces, church and neighbourhoods would be if we all did that?