King Solomon, in addition to being very wise, is loaded. Because he only asked for wisdom, God showered him with riches beyond imagining. Everything he builds is made of gold. Silver? Fuhggedaboudit. Even the Queen of Sheba, no slouch herself, is impressed. Solomon's wealth is on display everywhere.
Swimming in Riches
God enjoys bestowing wealth on good kings:
- King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. (9:22)
- All Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. (17:5)
- Hezekiah had very great riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of costly objects. (32:27)
And this is just the tip of the golden iceberg. These guys have immense wealth you wouldn't believe. We're talking silver, gold, bronze, jewels, weapons, and livestock way above what was absolutely necessary.
And the kings who weren't quite so faithful to God? How did their bank accounts look? Not so good:
- So King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took everything. (12:9)
- [The King of Israel] seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God, and Obed-edom with them; he seized also the treasuries of the king's house. (25:24)
- Then the king of Egypt deposed him in Jerusalem and laid on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold. (36:3)
- All the vessels of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officials, all these [Nebuchadnezzar] brought to Babylon. (36:18)
Looks like it's less money and more problems for the wicked. In all
these cases, the kings of Judah rebelled against God and God punished
them by making some other king take away all the stuff God gave them.
What does all this wealth mean? Well, clearly money and wealth are the outward signs that you're in good with God, who's got the power to give and take away. But if you're slacking and start worshipping idols and doing other things God finds abominable, then he starts withholding the blessings. Most of these wicked kings actually have their treasures stolen from them by invading armies. Or sometimes they're forced to pay off some other king in order to get a peace treaty. Either way, God cuts them off.
The success and wealth of God's favored nation lets all the other local rulers see that God has blessed and approved of what they're doing. That could be a pretty powerful incentive for them to think twice before planning an invasion. So it's not just money for money's sake. It's a testimony to God's power, a symbol of the king's righteousness.
Solomon used his money to glorify God by building a Temple that was made with only the finest materials by the best artisans. He definitely didn't skimp on the luxury. This was a message to God, of course (you're awesome), but also to the other nations (check out how awesome our God is and what he's given us).