“I also collected for myself silver and gold and the possession of kings and provinces. I got for myself male singers and female singers and the delights of the sons of man — loads and loads.”
Next to his wisdom, Solomon is best known for his wealth…and he had lots of it. The historical records go to great length to illustrate the grand abundance of wealth that entered into Solomon’s kingdom during his reign. This is significant not only because it demonstrates God’s faithfulness to this son of David, but Solomon’s kingdom becomes a bit of a type (a foreshadowing) of Christ’s eternal kingdom as is described in Revelation. If you ever have wondered why the emphasis is placed on streets of gold and gates of gemstones and pearl, remember that Jesus is the greater Solomon.
There is some discussion with respect to the meaning of the final clause, which I have translated as “loads and loads.” In Hebrew, the phrase in question is שִׂדָּה וְשִׁדּוֹת (shidah weshidoth), which is essentially just the singular and plural forms of שׂדּה (shadah) joined together. Unfortunately, while we know that the placing of a singular and a plural together is a common Hebrew technique to emphasize the abundance of something (see Judges 5:30), but we are not entirely sure as to what the root word refers.
Some of our modern translations render this as a reference to concubines, which is certainly consistent with Solomon’s life, though seems to take some liberties with the word itself. Rashi and some of the Hebrew commentators have translated this as “chests and chests” to indicate the abundance of material, connecting the usage of the term with Mishnah Kelim 18:3 which uses the phrase: “שׁדָה תֵיבָה וּמִגְדָל (shadah teybah wumigdal)” which translates as: “a chest, a box, or a cupboard” (see sepharia.org for the larger text). More idiomatically, the phrase is sometimes rendered: “greatness and greatness.” Given the context, it seems to be that Solomon is using this phrase as kind of superlative to add emphasis to the greatness of his collections.
What needs to be said about the vanity of accumulating great wealth for the sake of accumulating great wealth has already been said. We should be clear, though, it is never wealth itself that the Bible condemns, only the love of wealth (1 Timothy 6:9-10) that is sin. So, do understand that great things can be accomplished with wealth (and if you have great wealth, I am happy to offer some suggestions!), the real and operable question is what are you doing with that wealth? Are you building a kingdom for yourself or are you building Christ’s kingdom. If it is the former, that wealth will find a way into your heart and will wreak havoc there. If you focus on the latter, you will see the blessings of God as he multiplies what you begin to his glory.
Note: In America the government gives you a tax benefit for using your personal wealth to support non-profit organizations. Here are two organizations that are close to my heart and are actively seeking to build Christ’s kingdom rather than the kingdom of men. Both are registered 501C3 Charities so these gifts are tax Deductible (and I do not gain a dime from either).
R.I.T.E.: Reformed International Theological Education has been operating a seminary in Ukraine for close to 20 years. We train men to be pastors and Bible teachers and women to be Sunday School leaders and leaders of women’s groups in their local churches. Students are given a full, seminary-level education during this process and can graduate with either a Bachelors or Masters degree. Having begun in the Donbass region of Ukraine, we had to relocate to Kiev when the conflict broke out, but we have many students who remained in that war-torn region to minister to those trapped and unable to relocate. www.riteukraine.org or (if in Canada) http://ritecanada.ca.
T.N.A.R.S.: The North American Reformed Seminary offers a complete seminary education from an Associates Degree all of the way through a Doctorate in Theology. This education is offered to students totally free and totally online through books and lectures that are freely accessible. Students work through classes with an approved mentor and under the oversight of their home church. This permits classes to be taken at the student’s pace and without having to relocate to a seminary campus. The great benefits of this model ought to be obvious, not the least of which is that students not only remain under the oversight of their home church’s leadership, but the things they learn will get fed back into the local congregation. http://www.tnars.net