When we hear that someone was “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” we think of a man being born into much wealth with many worldly opportunities. Today’s first reading (1 Kings 3.5-12) discusses King Solomon and in many ways this silver spoon expression applies to him.
Solomon was born about 1000 years before the Incarnation and he was the son of David, king of Israel, and Bathsheba. David’s reign as king was filled with much drama and conflict and, in the midst of all this, Bathsheba, David, and the prophet Nathan decided to make Solomon the heir to David’s throne. So, upon David’s death young Solomon became the King of Israel with Bathsheba as the Queen mother. 1
Our first reading pertains to early on in Solomon’s reign, as the Lord appeared to Solomon and told him to express what he wanted from Him. Acknowledging the Lord’s love for his father David, Solomon humbly asked God for an understanding mind and for the capacity to discern between good and evil so that he could govern the United Kingdom of Israel in a just and effective way.2
The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request and told him that He would bless him with a wise and discerning mind (1 Kings 3.10-12). Not surprisingly, King Solomon quickly became known for his God-given gift of wisdom.
For instance, 1 Kings 3 outlines a scenario in which two women entered Solomon’s court with a baby whom both claimed as her own (see vv. 16-28). Thinking carefully, Solomon threatened to split the baby in half. One woman was prepared to accept Solomon’s decision but the other woman pleaded with him not to do such a ghastly thing. Solomon knew that it was the woman pleading with him who was the mother, for she cared so much about the child’s safety. So, Solomon gave the baby to her and “[w]hen all [of] Israel heard the judgment [Solomon] had given, they were in awe of him, because they saw that…[Solomon] had in him the wisdom of God for giving judgment” (28).3
As a result of his great wisdom, Solomon began to change the nation of Israel into an international empire which influenced not only the twelve tribes of Israel but also various Gentile nations.4 For instance, 1 Kings 4 tells us that “Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life” (20-21).
Another dimension of Solomon’s wisdom was his overseeing the construction of the Jerusalem Temple, which became the center of Jewish worship. The Temple was a magnificent structure that shone with dazzling beauty. And when the queen of the neighboring land of Sheba visited Jerusalem she was so moved by the splendor and wealth of Solomon’s court as well as his wisdom that she became exhausted.5
As the Scriptures explain, “Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought a present, objects of silver and gold….horses and mules…so much year by year” (1 Kings 10:23-25).
Given all this, we might think that King Solomon – the man “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” and then blessed with great wisdom was “on top of the world”, so to speak. But as time went on, Solomon abused his God-given gifts and thus ushered in havoc and destruction.
When Solomon asked God to grant him wisdom, he “loved the Lord” (1 Kings 3.3) but eventually his relationship with God deteriorated as he became consumed with desire for pleasure, possessions, and power. Solomon accumulated much gold and weaponry, he had 700 wives and 300 mistresses, and his wives turned his heart toward pagan gods and goddesses. He built altars for false, demonic-inspired deities who people worshipped by means of human sacrifice. Consequently, the Lord declared to Solomon that much of the kingdom would be torn from him and that he would be deeply troubled by enemies. Not long after this Solomon died and the United Kingdom of Israel split apart.6
So, what happened to King Solomon, the young leader who loved the Lord and eagerly wished to serve Him? It is safe to assume that somewhere along the line he stopped praying to the true God. Nobody forced Solomon to become consumed with desire for power and possessions and nobody forced him to worship false gods and goddesses. God never stopped loving Solomon, but Solomon’s mind and heart turned away from the Lord and he became enslaved to worldly ambitions and desires.
This spiritual downfall that happened to Solomon can happen to us. We might not be famous rulers of a kingdom but like Solomon we have been wounded by original sin and we are inclined to turn away from the Lord and commit evil acts.7 In today’s world we face many temptations, and we can get consumed by a desire for great power, wealth, or pleasure. Occult practices such as horoscopes and tarot cards, online gambling, drug and alcohol abuse, viewing pornography and using contraception are a few of the leading temptations we encounter and engaging in any of these sinful activities causes grave spiritual harm.
It is for this reason that we must turn to the Risen Lord Jesus and cultivate a personal relationship with Him. Jesus tells us that He no longer calls us servants but friends (Jn 15:15). As our divine friend Jesus offers us a sense of peace and joy that the world and all its many temptations cannot give.
So, how do we cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus? As Catholic-Christians, we know that Jesus is present to us through His Mystical Body the Church in a variety of magnificent ways. For instance, we encounter the wondrous mercy of Jesus through the Sacrament of Confession and we experience His strength through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints.
Jesus speaks to us through the Sacred Scriptures and when we are seriously ill or injured Our Lord gives us strength and healing through the Sacrament of the Sick. Moreover, Jesus fills us with His saving presence in a particularly profound way through the Most Holy Eucharist.8
Another way to deepen our relationship with Jesus is by praying novenas. The word novena is taken from the Latin word “novem,” meaning nine. A novena is made up of nine days of prayer and they frequently involve asking specific saints to pray for us. Novenas are an ancient Church tradition that go back to the days of the apostles. After Jesus’ Ascension, the apostles went to the upper room with the Blessed Virgin Mary and they joined together in prayer for nine straight days until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The nine days of prayer they engaged in form the basis for our current nine-day novenas. 9
Some popular novenas include the Divine Mercy Novena, along with novenas to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to St. Therese of Lisieux. Quite recently I completed the Surrender Novena, which includes the prayer “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything”!10
What a wonderful prayer for encountering the Lord!
God’s endless love for us never changes but our love for Him can and will change across time – it can grow stronger or weaker or it can even fade away. Thus, it is essential we continue to cultivate our friendship with Jesus through His Mystical Body, the Church. By doing this we are aligned with St. Paul, who writes that we must forget what lies behind us and strain forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward our heavenly goal (Phil 3:13-14). This goal is, of course, eternal salvation and, when you think about it, it is the only goal that really matters.
1 Source: https://study.com/learn/lesson/king-solomon-facts-biography.html (Retrieved July 24th, 2023).
2 Source: https://skywaymessages.co.uk/themes/bible-characters/bible-character-faded-glory/ (Retrieved July 25th, 2023).
3 Source: https://www.stjohnsbyzantinecathedral.com/holy-prophet-king-solomon/ (Retrieved July 25th, 2023).
4 Bergsma, John and Pitre, Brant. (2018). A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Volume 1: The Old Testament. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, p. 391.
5 Source: https://skywaymessages.co.uk/themes/bible-characters/bible-character-faded-glory/ (Retrieved July 25th, 2023).
6 Bergsma, John and Pitre, Brant. (2018). A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Volume 1: The Old Testament. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, p. 393.
7 Catechism of the Catholic Church. 407.
8 Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FelLDY-yf20 (Retrieved July 21, 2023).
9 Source: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/how-to-pray-a-novena (Retrieved July 25th, 2023).
10 Source: https://catholicexchange.com/the-surrender-novena-let-jesus-take-care-of-everything/ (Retrieved July 25th, 2023).