IntroductionSolomon, the son of David, the king of Israel, the wisest man who ever lived…and the first king to forsake his heritage, promises and faith in order to please his pagan wives. Which picture of Solomon is accurate?
Both, but each portrayal was taken at different times, different phases of his life. Some have observed that Ecclesiastes was Solomon's musings in his old age about how he had lived for his pleasures; Proverbs is his advice on many topics, perhaps written in his mid-life; while the Song of Solomon was written during his youth. This could be true, but we don't know for certain.
It's interesting that Solomon used the phrase "Go thy way" one time in each of these books. Because the Song seems to portray an earlier time of his life, we'll look at it first, then flip back to Ecclesiastes.
"If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents" (
"Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works" (
1. Solomon's Words from the Song of Songs
One beauty of the Song of Songs is that it's a rolling narrative. Some commentators from J. Vernon McGee to John Phillips have given some varying opinions about who's saying what and when in this book. There are some differences of opinion regarding who is the focus of the Song. Is this a song Solomon wrote about himself? If not, who did he have in mind? According to
We have many words spoken by the Shulamite, the heroine of this story. Solomon seems to have structured the book (song) about her and her love for the man she loves. The first few verses of this book have some of her musings in that regard.
She begins her story with saying she had been living a very hard life. She spoke of how her skin had become black (KJV) because she had been forced to work out in the sun for a long time. According to
Now we come to her question and the unusual response from her beloved one. In
The reply from her beloved, as mentioned earlier, seems somewhat unusual to me. He told the Shulamite, "If you don't know (did she know?), go thy way and follow the follow the footprints!" Something I also find puzzling is the beloved didn't offer to lead the Shuamite's flock himself. He simply said to follow the footprints.
The rest of the Song describes the various words, musings and interactions between the Shulamite, her beloved and others. This is a beautiful book, and we would do well to study what it means to be genuinely in love with the one person you love. Solomon wrote a masterpiece with this work, and we can be grateful for his work.
2. Solomon's Words from Ecclesiastes
Fast forward a number of years…Although it's the same writer, he's not the same man. I have a difficult time every time I read Ecclesiastes, which is Solomon's journal (blog) of his experiences "under the sun." This book has Solomon's writings, but nowhere does the work claim to be inspired. Some commentators have observed that only the name God (Hebrew, Elohim) appears often, but "Lord" or "The Lord" (YHWH) never iis seen in this book. I don't understand why, except that Solomon's focus seems to have shifted to a very basic or simplistic view of God and His dealings in this world.
It's also interesting that he injects the phrase "Go thy way" into a passage where it doesn't seem to fit. He takes us from chapter 1, expressing "all is vanity" and giving a précis of his pursuits in chapters 1—3. We find more of the same through chapter 9; but in the middle of a musing, he says, "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works."
It's sad, that Solomon's faith seems to have shrunk through the years. He's gone from writing songs of love to cynicism or perhaps misplaced praise. It's true that we live in a world that always has been hostile to God and His saints. It's true that the unsaved generally don't want to follow the same God we do. Solomon's marriages to 1,000 wives and concubines did him in spiritually. We read in
Eventually, Solomon aligned himself with God. He mentioned that he taught the people knowledge (
These two views, Solomon's musings, are two very different ideas of "Go thy way." May we learn from our Lord, and may we never make the same mistakes Solomon did. When we're told "Go thy way," may we always take God's way, the right way—the only way.