"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11
We know that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon. Did the Spirit of God inspire him to pen those words, even about himself? Undoubtedly!
In order to gain a perspective about Solomon's life, we have to look farther back in Israel's history. Before she went into the Promised Land after leaving Egyptian slavery, Moses instructed the people of Israel and clarified God's will for them in commands they were to observe. Those instructions are found in the book of Deuteronomy.
Pertaining to the king whom the people would one day have reign over Israel to mimic the nations around them, Moses gave the following mandates:
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.
"Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return this way.'
"He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away;
"nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
"Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel." Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Because of how the future events in Solomon's life unfolded, we know that probably he did not write the commandments on a scroll that he could read daily and walk in the fear of God. Either he disobeyed that instruction completely or laid aside the scroll early in his reign, totally disregarding it to his detriment!
Now back to the story: Notice the three bold-typeface phrases in the passage above. Each one states a rule God stipulated for the king of Israel to stringently observe.
He shall not multiply horses for himself. I Kings 4:26 and II Chronicles 9:25, though discrepant in their stated totals, number the stalls for horses and/or chariots at 4,000 or 40,000. Solomon bought horses from Egypt, the very country from which God said he should NOT get them! Egypt had enslaved Israel years before. They were not to go back there...ever! From another angle, Solomon put together an army of horses and chariots rather than obeying God and relying on Him for the security of the nation. He was the only king who had God as his protector, yet he did not want to look different from the other rulers of his day! Rationalization to justify one's actions is evil.
He shall not multiply wives for himself. I Kings 11:3 says that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, foreign princesses from heathen nations. In other words, they were marriages of political convenience. And, because God did not execute His judgment immediately, Solomon thought he was getting away with his disobedience, while the women imported their idolatry to flourish in Israel, a nation dedicated to God!
Nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. I Kings 10:21 says that Solomon had an annual 'income' of over one billion dollars by way of commerce, tribute money, taxation of the Hebrew people he dominated, and gifts---remember the Queen of Sheba and the costly wares she brought him? He was a wealthy man! But one of the ways he enriched himself was by heavily taxing his fellow Israelites. He benefitted at their expense.
So, Solomon broke each of the stipulations God gave Moses to tell the people. Israel's first king, Saul, must have observed each of them. So did David until Bathsheba came along. But it was Solomon who went overboard "because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily..."
Was Solomon's disregard for God's commandments a result of knowing that David, his father, sinned by adultery and murder in conceiving him? Or was it because no matter what Solomon did, he seemed to get by with his sin before God? Whatever the reason or reasons, his life is a sad illustration of the fact that wisdom does not supersede obedience!
One could say that Solomon was 'comfortably disobedient.' He enjoyed his sin while enjoying luxury never known before! I Kings 10:21 says even his cups were made of gold: not one was made of silver!
Yet, his wives brought their pagan worship and foreign gods within Israel's border and made it easy to introduce idol worship when the nation divided after Solomon's death. The ten tribes to the north under the rule of his son, Jeroboam, worshiped golden calves so they didn't have to trek down to Jerusalem's temple. That was definitely idolatry, rather than serving the living God. Most likely, King Jeroboam learned about idol worship from some of Solomon's pagan wives, a direct result of Solomon's 'comfortable disobedience.'
On the other hand, the reason the nation split was because of taxation. Rehoboam, Jeroboam's brother, was the rightful successor to the throne of Israel after their father Solomon died. However, when ascending to the throne, Rehoboam counseled with men his own young age who lacked the wisdom older heads would have advised. They urged Rehoboam not to ease the tax burden imposed by Solomon on the people. Jeroboam and the northern ten tribes rebelled against such heavy taxation and refused to come under Rehoboam's thumb. Instead, they ceded from the nation formed by God and established Israel, commonly referred to today as the Northern Kingdom.
Little did Solomon dream that payback for his total disregard for God's commandments would come when and how it did, if not in his lifetime! His kingdom was divided and idolatry spread to both factions. 'Comfortable disobedience' always has its outcomes!
Something similar appears to have been happening in the Church of Jesus Christ. Largely, the Church is asleep to what is going on in today's world. But it's because her members have disregarded God's commands to "study to show yourself approved", meaning to read the Bible daily and meditate on what it says so they may be changed to Christ's image and be aware of Last Days events and warnings.
Or, how about: "Put on the whole armor of God" or "pray without ceasing." Even more glaring is the crux of Jesus' commandments to His bride: "I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." How many churches and/or denominations counsel new converts to wait on God until they have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Jesus spoke those words after He gave His followers the Great Commission. They were not to "go" until first they "received" the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Without Him, they were in disobedience.
Today's church by and large lives in comfortable disobedience. Yet, parents are alarmed when their children generally leave the church as they reach young adulthood, if not before. Parents do not realize how much their laxity in obeying God influences their kids! Why should their children desire what parents claim to have, but don't manifest with any sort of devotion, strength or consistency?
Paul admonished Roman believers to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. It is the ONLY way a Christian can tell the false from the true in this deceptive world! Yet many who profess to know Jesus believe all they hear and see on television and social media with too little knowledge of God's word to see the deception in what they are told. Comfortable disobedience leads to the broad way of destruction!
While Solomon's sphere of influence covered the entire then-known world, your and my range of visibleness is much reduced from his. However, as professed believers, we are still responsible for obeying God's commandments rigorously and completely. If we don't, our lives and the lack God sees in them will relegate family members, friends, working acquaintances and even the world to darkness and condemnation because we do not obey Him.
Comfortable disobedience may feel good for the moment. It may even seem right and even safe. We may believe we have a sugar-daddy God who winks at our self-permissiveness. Do not be fooled! You may not see all the pay-off for your disobedience in your lifetime, but the trail you leave behind you will be marked by tragedy and loss due to your failure and sin. Wake up and repent before it's too late!