One of my church members recently asked me about King Solomon’s salvation (or lack of it). The question was a fair one because there is some honest debate as to the answer. While no individual from the Old Testament era was saved in the sense of being born again and indwelt by God the Holy Spirit the way Christians are today, this is not to say that each of those folks can’t be categorized into either the camp “saved” or “lost.” As for which camp Solomon eternally finds himself, let me present the arguments for both potential answers and then conclude by sharing my answer.
First, let’s start with the possible evidences that Solomon was a saved individual. Those evidences are:
- Solomon is credited with writing no less than three books of the Bible: Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, and Proverbs (he personally wrote or at least compiled all or most of the material in that book).
- Solomon oversaw the construction of the Jewish temple.
- Solomon’s reign as Israel’s King, despite being fraught with serious problems, is generally looked upon as being Israel’s most glorious era.
- Jesus twice referenced Solomon, and neither reference carries a hint of condemnation: Matthew 6:28-29, 12:42.
- The story of how Solomon asked God to grant him wisdom to rule over the people of Israel speaks of how Solomon (at least in his younger days) loved the Lord and wholly trusted in Him (1 Kings 3:3-15).
- It is generally assumed that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes when he was in the last years of his life, and that makes the book’s closing words highly significant. He says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, N.I.V.).
- God told David that David’s son (Solomon) would be the one to build the temple, and God promised David He would never take His mercy away from Solomon the way He did with Saul (2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-15).
As you can see, the resume for Solomon being a saved believer whose soul is in heaven right now is an impressive one. But now let’s present the other side of the argument. As we will learn, that side turns out to be pretty impressive as well. The possible evidences that Solomon was not a saved individual are:
- Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of them from races that Israel was commanded to avoid (1 Kings 11:1-3).
- Over the course of time, those foreign women with their foreign gods turned Solomon’s heart toward idolatry (1 Kings 11:4-6).
- More than just being an idolater in his heart, Solomon actually built worship shrines to many of his false gods (1 Kings 11:7-8).
- The only reason that God didn’t tear the kingdom away from Solomon was out of remembrance for Solomon’s father, David. However, God did tear it away from Solomon’s son/heir, Rehoboam, as during Rehoboam’s reign the united nation underwent a civil war and was split into two separate kingdoms (1 Kings 11:9-13; 12-1-24).
- There is no passage in which we find the record of Solomon ever confessing his sins or repenting of them the way David did after his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12:13)
- Despite the fact that David had told Solomon, “If you forsake the Lord, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9, emphasis mine), Solomon launched headlong into rank idolatry and in so doing did forsake the Lord to some degree at least.
Do you see now why some people contend that Solomon, despite his legendary spiritual resume, was in actuality not saved? Okay, so which way do I fall in regards to this debate? Well, I maintain that Solomon was indeed a saved believer whose soul is right now in heaven with the Lord.
To me, it’s crystal clear that Solomon started out saved at the beginning of his reign. That being the case, the only way he could have died lost was to have sinned enough to cancel out his salvation somewhere along the way. That would mean that salvation can potentially be lost. Standing in contrast to that idea, however, is the long list of passages that teach that the saved believer is eternally secure in his or her salvation. (If you are interested in seeing that list, please read my post “Once Saved Always Saved.”)
As I interpret Solomon’s life, he never lost his salvation even though he certainly did experience God’s chastisement because of his womanizing and idolatry. He didn’t lose his eternal relationship with God, but he did lose his daily fellowship with Him. I think that Solomon stands as a prime example of a person who allowed God’s blessings to actually become an impediment to serving God. He was a man who no doubt earned many eternal rewards by the outstanding ways he served God at various times in his life, but he also no doubt missed out on many such rewards as well. All in all, though, I simply cannot imagine Solomon not being saved. There’s just too much evidence that he was despite the fact that he surely didn’t always live up to his salvation.