Have you ever wondered how does it feels like to live being the richest person on Earth? Have you ever imagined before how would your life be if money is not the problem? What would you do if you have an amount of money that can never be run out even if you spend them in your whole lifetime?
Well, there is actually a man who is blessed enough to be the richest man who ever lived. Do you know who is this man?
Clue: It is not Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos nor Elon Musk. Although these people are the richest men on Earth today, none of them is the richest person who ever lived. According to Forbes Real-Time World’s Billionaires List, the richest man on Earth as of January 22, 2022 is Elon Musk with a whooping net worth of 248.3 billion US Dollars. But compared to the richest man who ever lived, Elon Musk’s net worth is nothing.
And do you know also that this richest man is a child of God? In fact, we can read his story in the Bible. He is no other than King Solomon, the son of King David.
So what did this richest man on Earth do in his life knowing that he can never be run out of money? What lesson can we learn from his life?
Let’s take a look…
THE CALL OF SOLOMON
After King David died, his son Solomon, became the next king of Israel. In 1 Kings 3:5-13, God appeared to Solomon and ask him what he wants that the Lord should give him. To which Solomon replied: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad” (1 Kings 3:9).
This reply of Solomon pleases God so much that He did not only give him a wise and an understanding heart to wisely judge Israel, but also given him great riches and honor so that there shall be no king before him who exceeds him in both wisdom and riches (1 Kings 3:10-13; 10:23).
It is therefore very clear that our Lord God had made King Solomon to be the wealthiest man who ever lived on earth. Now, let us see how wealthy is King Solomon.
THE WEALTH OF KING SOLOMON
So how rich was King Solomon? How much could be his net worth? Below is the summary of the wealth of King Solomon according to the Bible and their equivalent value today:
1. 120 Talents of Gold (4,104 kg) = USD 254,448,000
1 Kings 10:10 “And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.”
The Queen of Sheba gifted King Solomon 4,104 kilograms of gold (1 talent = 34.2 kg) which has a current value of USD 254,448,000 (current gold value is USD 62,000 per kilogram). Not including the “abundance of spices” and precious stones given to him by the queen of Sheba because she was amazed by his wisdom.
2. 420 Talents of Gold from Ophir (14,364 kg) = USD 890,568,000
1 Kings 9:28 “And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”
3. 666 Talents of Gold received yearly (22,777.2 kg) = USD 1,412,186,400
1 Kings 10:14 “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold.”
Now imagine, King Solomon received USD 1,412,186,400 worth of gold a year which is acquired from trading alone. This is not to mention his shipment of gold coming from the navy of Tarshish and Hiram (1 Kings 10:22), gold coming from business and the gifts of gold from other kings and queens from different kingdoms who visited him for his wisdom (1 Kings 10:24-25).
It is therefore estimated that King Solomon’s worth of assets he received yearly from gold alone is about USD 20 billion. Not to mention the silver, precious stones, ivory, spices, precious lumbers, horses, mules and other animals he received yearly (2 Chr. 9:24, 1 Kings 10:25).
Gold was so abundant in Israel at that time that Solomon made two hundred targets and three hundred shields out of them (1 Kings 10:17). He also overlay his throne with gold (1 Kings 10:18) and make all the vessels in his house to be made of gold (1 Kings 10:21). He also covers the whole Temple with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22). Silver was also very abundant in Jerusalem at that time that the Bible describes it to be as common as stones (1 Kings 10:27).
All in all, it is estimated that King Solomon’s total net worth will not be less than USD 2.2 Trillion.
This has dwarfed the net worth of the next richest person who ever lived who is Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire who has USD 400 Billion net worth.
THE AUTHOR OF ECCLESIASTES AND KING SOLOMON ARE THE SAME PERSON
So what did King Solomon do with his wealth? We can actually read the answer in the book Ecclesiastes, as this book was written by King Solomon himself. Now, many Bible scholars argued that perhaps, the book of Ecclesiastes was not written by King Solomon. But here are the three reasons why I believe, and it was very clear, that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon:
1. The writer of Ecclesiastes who calls himself “Preacher” went on to call himself “the son of David, king of Jerusalem,” one who has increased in “wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me,” and one who has collected many proverbs (Ecc. 1:1, 16; 12:9). This is also the description of King Solomon in the book of Kings and Proverbs. He is also the son of David and just like David, sits on the throne in Jerusalem as the only Davidic son to rule over all Israel from that city (1 Kings 11:42). He was also the wisest man in the world and no king before him exceeds him in wisdom (1 Kings 4:29–30). And just like the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon also wrote the book of Proverbs (Pro. 1:1; 10:1; 25:1). Therefore, we can safely say that Solomon and the Preacher are the same person.
2. Take a look at Ecclesiastes 1:16:
“I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”
And compare it with what God said to Solomon in 1 Kings 3:12:
“Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”
Can you say that they are different persons?
3. Also, compare Ecclesiastes 2:9 with 1 Kings 3:13 and 1 Kings 10:23:
Ecc. 2:9 “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.”
1 Kings 3:13 “And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”
1 Kings 10:23 “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom”.
It is therefore very clear that the author of the book of Ecclesiastes that calls himself the Preacher and King Solomon are one and the same person.
WHAT DID KING SOLOMON DO WITH HIS WEALTH?
Now, let’s go back to our original questions: What will you do if you are King Solomon and you have this enormous wealth? A USD 2.2 Trillion net worth cannot be easily spent in an entire lifetime. What did King Solomon do with his wealth, knowing that he is also the wisest man on Earth? Let’s find out in the book of Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 1:13 (ESV) “I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.”
Knowing that he is the wisest man on earth, and money is not a problem, King Solomon actually experimented with his life. He wanted to see what would be the best thing to spend his life with knowing that man has only few years on Earth. King Solomon wanted us (the readers) to see by experimenting on his own life, what would be the best thing to do in this life. And I think it would be wise for us to learn from him.
So he experimented on his life knowing that he alone can do this because he is the wisest and the richest man on Earth. According to Ecclesiastes 2:4-9, this is what King Solomon did:
1. Ecc. 2:4 “I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards.”
With his wisdom and riches, King Solomon here sort of became like a real estate owner who develops and owned real estate properties and turned them into subdivisions and haciendas.
2. Ecc. 2:5 “I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits.”
Not only a land developer, but he also became like an agriculturist who planted trees that bare different kinds of fruits and made gardens and orchards.
3. Ecc. 2:6 “I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees.”
He became also an expert in making irrigations to water his trees and perhaps, the “pool of water” mentioned here is sort of like a dam that holds water.
4. Ecc. 2:7 “I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me.”
He also owns a great number of maidens and servants and did not stop himself in acquiring great numbers of cattle that no one in Jerusalem had owned like it before.
5. Ecc. 2:8 “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.”
His gold, silver and many peculiar treasures are also increasing and he never stops himself from acquiring them. He has also singers and all the delights of the sons of men like musical instruments and other things. We can see here that Solomon never stop himself from acquiring all that he desired.
6. Ecc. 2:9-10 “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.”
As the years go by, he continues to possess things and increase in riches and he is still the wisest man in the world. And all that his eyes desires, he did not stop himself in acquiring them.
This is the experiment that King Solomon did to his life and all of these he did in order to know what would be the best thing to spend a man’s life with while living here on Earth. Now the question is: So what did King Solomon learn? Are those things he did in his life worthy to spend a man’s life with?
Let’s ask King Solomon himself…
ALL WAS VANITY
“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”
Look at the words of king Solomon above. They speak of great frustrations on the things that he spent his life with. Looks like building houses, dams, orchards, owning real properties, possessing great number of servants, going after increasing your wealth and pursuing all the desires of your eyes are not the best things to spend a man’s life with.
King Solomon describe them us “all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” The word “vanity” came for the Hebrew word “hebel” that means “emptiness, vapor, vainly.” While “vexation of the spirit” here is “reh-ooth” that means “feeding upon, grasping after, striving.”
So after King Solomon looked at all the things he had done, he then concluded that those things where he spent his life with doing are just empty, vain and are just like vapor which have only vexed his spirit. “All has no profit under the sun.” Why did he say this? Why did he conclude that spending a man’s life with these things will not profit you at all? Well, this is because King Solomon realized that these things have no eternal value. They are just like a vapor which will vanish.
This is also what the Apostle Paul had warned us not to spend our life with in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 that says:
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
We must make sure that where we spend our lives with must have eternal value. All that King Solomon has invested will burn if tried with fire. They are all earthly things and has no profit under the sun.
Remember also that King Solomon has done all of these in order to show us what would be the best thing to spend our lives with here on Earth. Because of his wisdom and riches, he did all of these for us so that we might not foolishly spend our lives with the things that he had proven to be vanities. Now, it will be foolish of us if we still want to spend our lives pursuing those things which he has already been proven as vanities. It will be foolish of you if you still choose to spend your life in acquiring great possessions and pursuing material riches when King Solomon had already proven them to be vanities.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER
So if those things are all vanities, then what would be the best thing to spend a man’s life with? Let’s read from King Solomon himself as written in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes:
Ecc. 12:13-14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Having experimented on his life to know what would be the best thing to spend a man’s life with, King Solomon concluded that the best thing to spend our lives with is to fear God and do His commandments. That is, to always prioritize the eternal things instead of the material ones and do the will of God for us.
What are these eternal things? They are the spiritual things that concern our spirit. They are the things that have eternal value. They are things that cannot be destroyed by fire. It is the food of our spirit that gives us eternal life. It is no other than the Word of God.
Matt. 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
The Word of God is the only thing here on Earth that is eternal. Posses It and you will also become eternal. Follow Its guidance and everything you do in this life will be profitable under the sun. Do not spend your life on earthly things that have no eternal value. Always remember this words of our Lord:
Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Our Soul is more important than gaining the whole world. Our Lord also promised us in Matthew 6:25-34 not to worry about what we should eat, what we should drink nor what we should wear. He promised us that He will provide us all of these things. But there is a condition for Him to be able to do this for us:
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The “Kingdom of God” there is no other than His Spirit. It is His Spirit that make us part of His Kingdom and his dwelling place. Therefore, we need to seek Him first. We need to have His kingdom first (Holy Spirit). After having His Spirit, we need to feed It by His Word (John 6:63). If we feed His Spirit in us, He will be the One to take care of the needs of our physical body. Don’t feed His Spirit in us and it will also manifest in our physical body.
I think it is safe to say that once in our life, all of us had dreamed to become Millionaire. But we must all learn from the experience of King Solomon – the person who has an actual experience to be the richest man on Earth. The lesson that he wants to show us here is that: Pursuing material riches is vanity. The best thing to spend our short life here on Earth is to spend it for the Lord. And doing this does not require us to be the wisest and the richest man on Earth. All of us can actually do it.
Sometimes we are so uncontended with our lives that we pursue material richness instead of spiritual gains. Not knowing that there are people who dream of living our lives.
If increase in wealth is the secret to make us satisfied in life, then we should see millionaires and billionaires going to church and serving the Lord because they are already contended. But only poor people do that.
If the secret to happiness is being rich, then rich people should be dancing and singing on the church. But only little kids do that.
If wealth ensures security, then rich people should walk unguarded. But only those who live simply can do that.
If beauty and fame can bring ideal relationships, then celebrities should have the best marriages. But only simple people have that.
A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of flying. But a pilot on the plane sees the child on that farmhouse and dreams of returning home.
The secret is to be content. King Solomon told us that it is actually good to enjoy the fruit of your labor (wealth), but we must not be entangled with them. In this Laodicean Age, where Satan’s scheme is drowning us with material possessions, we must pursue spiritual richness (Eph 1:3). We should all learn from King Solomon.
May He continue to reveal to us His truth is my prayer.
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