Solomon, Jesus, and the Jot and Tittle

The Mischna tells a story of Solomon as a young man. As he was copying out the Torah, as all kings of Israel were to do when they became ruler over Israel, he came to the instruction warning kings not to multiply wives, gold nor horses unto themselves. Wise man that Solomon was, he thought he understood why the instructions was given—to keep him from straying from the Torah. There was one word that was of especial importance. By removing the yud (the tittle) he changed the command to give himself permission to do these things.

It is this story that Jesus was referring to when he said, “Not one jot or tittle shall pass away till all is accomplished” in Matthew 5:18. It was a well known story in that day.

So what can we learn from Solomon and his handling of the tittle?

Solomon used his perceived “spiritual understanding” of the law as an excuse to do away with the law. What was the result? What he thought couldn’t happen did happen–the pursuit of women, gold and horses took him away from the true God.

Could the same happen to us? Could we think we understand the “spirit of the law” and use it as an excuse to become disobedient to the one who has saved us? Could we be an enemy to God, while we think we are His friend?

Solomon’s final work in scripture is a warning to us. Pursuing wisdom without embracing obedience leads to a life that is wasted.

“Vanity. All is vanity,” the preacher says. What a depressing note to end a life that began which such promise. It was only the omission of a tittle, yet it robbed Solomon of a meaningful life.

Going down a path that says “I know better than God what He means” is a prescription for sorry. When He clearly states in His word something we don’t like, spiritualizing away the meaning will lead the fool who follows that path’s allurement into the same fate as Solomon. How much better to heed Solomon’s final admonition: “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.” Ecclesiastes 12: 13, 14.

It is far safer for us to hear a “thus saith the LORD” and heed it. Combine the spiritual with the instruction so that the two are harmonized in our lives. In this way, our actions reflect our appreciation of the spiritual truth we have embraced. Jesus said “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14: 23, 24.

Has all be fulfilled? Yes, it has been fulfilled in Christ. Yet has it been fulfilled in His followers? The evidence suggests not. Then the lesson of Solomon and the jot and tittle is a warning to us today.

You may find the reference to this story in

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