As soon as we hear the name, King Solomon, it conjures to our mind's eye images of gold and peacocks and splendid ivory thrones bedecked with lions. His kingdom was - simply put - the most beautiful and extravagant place that the world has ever seen. He built palaces: for himself, for his wives, and, of course, for God. We are told that he had so much gold that silver was nothing; it was about as common as dirt. He ate with gold forks and spoons, drank from gold cups, and dwelt in such opulence that it took away the breath of even the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:5). And Solomon received all of these gifts, as well as the most expansive kingdom that Israel has ever had, as a byproduct of one of Yahweh's blessings. In 1 Kings chapter 3, the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and tells him to ask anything of Him and He will give it. But instead of asking for long life or riches or the defeat of his enemies, Solomon simply asks for the wisdom to govern God's people. God is so pleased by the humble request that He tells the young king that He will give him wisdom and all of the things that he didn't ask for besides!
But if we think that Solomon's physical blessings were astounding, we should take a look at the fruits of the blessing that he actually asked for. King Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs, as well as the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs (or Solomon). We are told that his wisdom was unmatched from that time onward. People came from far and wide just to listen to his wise and discerning judgments. There is no doubt that the man was exceedingly smart, and yet I've got a picture of a crying LEGO jester at the top of this article and the title says something about a fool, so obviously something went wrong.
Well, something did go wrong. Later on in Solomon's life he began to do some really bad stuff - really foolish stuff. His father David had committed adultery and killed one of his own 'mighty men' because of a pretty face, but Solomon would do worse. We're told in 1 Kings 11:4-8 that Solomon eventually began to turn from Yahweh because of his many wives, which he loved, and he built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Molech, the abomination of the Ammonites, and that he followed after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, another abomination of the Ammonites, as well. The smartest man in the world was committing idolatry! How could this be?
It began, as all sin does, with simple disobedience. Solomon did not suddenly fall off the wagon one day and start building temples for idols. He had been living in opposition to God's instructions for quite some time before that, and his eventual descent into idolatry was as a result of not being obedient from the outset to what God had commanded of His kings.
Listen for just a moment to what God had commanded through Moses concerning Israel's future kings way back in Deuteronomy (before the people of Israel ever even made it into the Promised Land):
When you come to the land that Yahweh your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say,'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' you may indeed set a king over you whom Yahweh your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 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 heshall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this Law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God by keeping all the words of this Law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
These instructions, handed down by Yahweh Himself, read like a road map of Solomon's sins! King Solomon actually violated every single command given here concerning Israel's kings. He acquired many horses (1 Kings 10:26), he got them all from Egypt (v. 28), it would be an understatement to say that he had many wives (11:3), and he certainly had excessive silver and gold (10:14-22).
Now, even though we're not told one way or the other, I'm going to hazard a guess that Solomon probably didn't follow the latter half of those instructions either: the part that tells the kings to copy the Law and read it daily. Perhaps if he would have done so, he would have seen earlier the huge problems that he was getting himself into.
So here we have a case where the smartest, wisest, and most likely richest man the world has ever known goes horribly astray because he wasn't reading his Bible every day. Instead of being like him and relying on our own good sense to get us through each day, we ought to be like another king - one toward the end of Judah's history: Josiah. King Josiah is the one that found the book of the Law hidden in the temple and simply read it. And when he read God's Law, he did not just hear the words and then try to justify himself by coming up with reasons why he didn't need to follow those commands of God anymore, or by somehow convincing himself that he was in fact being obedient when he knew he wasn't. He just tore his clothes, confessed his great sin, repented, begged forgiveness, and vowed to be obedient to what he had read for the rest of his days (2 Kings 22:11-23:25). Let's read God's Word like that - every single day - and let it keep us from walking foolishly, no matter how wise we may be.