The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

1.2 Why Study Solomon?

Why the Study of Solomon
Over against what we said last time we want to remind ourselves of certain things about Solomon that should convince us that he is well worth studying. There are both general and more specific reasons for studying this great man.
Some general reasons
We can give five general reasons for studying the life of Solomon from Scripture.
1. He is endlessly fascinating. In a little book on Solomon, Henry Morris reminds us that Solomon had ‘one of the most fascinating careers in all history’. Whatever else we may say about him, it should take little persuasion to convince most people that he was a very interesting man indeed. His story is endlessly fascinating – his wisdom, his wealth, his wonderful reign, his tragic fall, the question of whether he was restored again after that fall. The Queen of Sheba was intrigued enough to travel over a thousand miles to see him and if you have any interest in anything then you will want to know more about him. Our appetites can easily become jaded. We can grow world-weary and fed-up but every now and then God deliberately raises up characters like Solomon one to arouse our interest in his world and in himself.
2. He is the greatest King of Israel ever. This man was a king. Solomon ruled from somewhere between BC 971 and 961 down to somewhere between 931 and 921, succeeding his father David, according to God’s will. Kings are powerful men even in our day. In Solomon’s day their power could be even greater.
He was not just a king but a king of Israel, God’s chosen nation. The fact that he was the son of great King David is important. David was a man after God’s own heart and his son and heir was Israel’s first king to be born to a reigning monarch. He enjoyed, in the words of a 19th Century writer, ‘all the advantages to be expected from the instructions and the example, the prayers and the blessings, of so good a father.’ Solomon was both a prophet and the son of a prophet.
More than that again, he was a great King of Israel, probably the greatest Israel ever had. He was certainly one of the greatest kings who ever lived. The description of the splendour of his reign in 1 Kings 10 is full of superlatives. He was ‘greater in riches … than all the other kings of the earth’. He ruled over a large empire too and was the means of blessing to thousands upon thousands of his subjects.
3. He is probably the wisest man who ever lived. Only a few obscure kings have been labelled wise. A quick surf of the internet reveals only Sancho VI of Navarre, Alphonso X of Castile and Robert I of Naples – hardly the most well known of kings. The Elector of Saxony in Luther’s time was also known as ‘Frederick the wise’.
In 1 Kings we learn how, on becoming king, Solomon was conscious of his unworthiness and so, when God offered to do for him what he asked he sought wisdom. According to James 1:5 God always ‘gives generously to all without finding fault’ and Solomon became the wisest man ever.
His wisdom is typified in his famous judgement, early in his reign, when two prostitutes came seeking justice (1 Kings 3). Both women had given birth to babies under the same roof. One night, one rolled on her baby, suffocating it and it had died. She had then gone to the other bed, put the dead baby next to the other woman and taken her baby. This led to a dispute over who truly was mother to the surviving baby.
‘The living one is my son; the dead one is yours’
‘No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.’
‘My son is alive and your son is dead.’
‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’
And so it went on, until Solomon hit on the surprising expedient of calling for a sword to cut the surviving child in two! That suggestion soon revealed the true mother. 1 Kings 3:28 tells us that ‘When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.’
1 Kings 4:29-34 goes on to speak of Solomon’s wisdom and fame and of his 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. We read that
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man …. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.
Hiram, King of neighbouring Tyre, observed that the Lord had ‘given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment’ (see 2 Chronicles 2:12). In 1 Kings 10 is the Queen of Sheba’s visit. She too was amazed by his wisdom. 2 Chronicles 9:22 sums it up for us, ‘King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.’
4. He is the builder of the Great Temple at Jerusalem. You remember how though David was keen to build the temple he was only allowed to gather the materials. It was Solomon who did the actual work. ‘You are not the one to build the temple,’ God told David, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood - he is the one who will build the temple for my Name’ (1 Kings 8:19, 2 Chron 6:9). The temple acted as a symbolic model of heaven and of relations between heaven and earth. Responsibility for building it was a very great thing indeed.
5. He is probably the author of significant portions of Scripture. There is some dispute over this but Solomon’s name is connected with two psalms and with three books of Scripture, three wisdom books.
The tradition is that he wrote Song of Solomon as a young man, the Book of Proverbs in middle age and Ecclesiastes when he was old. There is a good deal to be said for that tradition. All three books are full of wisdom and insight, especially for young people but for all who stand in need of wisdom from God.

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