Let’s compare, the “Greatness” of Solomon, with the “Depravity” (marked by corruption or evil) of Rahab.
Solomon was a “great” man! By family descent, he had quite a pedigree. His father was David- the most beloved king of Israel, 2Sam.12:24a. His father David was also “a man after God’s own heart,” 1Sam.13:14; Acts 13:22. He was also loved by God from his birth, 2Sam.12:24b-25. Such is quite a family pedigree of “greatness”!
Solomon was a “great” man! By standards of wealth, Solomon was “it.” The Queen of Sheba did not believe the reports until she saw for herself, 1Kings 10:4-7. The “numbers” used to account his wealth were astounding, 1Kings 10:14-21,23,25-29. One of the most telling, and perhaps interesting, notes of his prosperity is found in 1Kings 10:22- he imported “gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.” Now that’s “great” wealth!
Solomon was a “great” man! In wisdom, again Solomon reigned supreme. The Queen of Sheba seemed more interested in his wisdom than his wealth, 1Kings 10:1-5. Such wisdom, as did his wealth, came from as a blessing from God, 1Kings 3:5-14. An example is given of Solomon’s wisdom in 1Kings 3:16-28. Also, 4:29-34 exemplifies it. Surely, no man has ever matched the “great” wisdom of Solomon!
Solomon was a “great” man! In worldly acclaim, Solomon ruled. The Queen of Sheba summed up Solomon’s reputation nicely, 1Kings 10:8-9. His acclaim is further attested, 2Chron.9:22-24, and vv.29-31. Certainly, and by all human standards of measure, Solomon was a “great” man. But conversely….
Rahab was a “depraved” woman! By family descent, Rahab was a “nobody”. She had a family, Joshua 2:13, but this had not kept her from a despised profession- she was a “harlot” (prostitute), v.1. If at marriage, a Hebrew woman could not produce “evidence” of her virginity, she could be stoned as a “harlot,” Deut.22:13-21. Children of harlots were likewise despised, Hos.2:4; Judges 11:1-3. According to family pedigree, Rahab was despised and depraved compared to Solomon.
Rahab was a “depraved” woman! By standards of wealth, Rahab couldn’t have been too well off. She was, after all, a prostitute. Orphaned or abandoned girls were often raised as harlots. Then too, sometimes they were sold into prostitution by their poor families. In most cases, they were owned by their masters, and typically earned only meager wages- “for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread….” Prov.6:26 (ESV). It is highly unlikely that Rahab was wealthy- and certainly would have been “poor” in comparison to Solomon!
Rahab was a “depraved” woman! By standards of wisdom, how smart could she be- right? After all, she sold her honor and her body, cf. Gen.25:29-34; Heb.12:16. Prostitutes, though called “cunning” in scripture, were not usually thought of as being “wise”, cf. Prov.7:10,27. Rahab may have been perceptive, a quick thinker, and a good liar (as evidenced by Joshua 2:2-7), but certainly was not wise in comparison to Solomon.
Rahab was a “depraved” woman! By standards of acclaim, Rahab was likely more infamous that famous. If Rahab had a “reputation” it was not for her brains. The Haggadah, a Jewish religious text, claims that Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women of the world; and that she had slept with most of the great men of her day. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol.4, pp.33-34) Certainly, her acclaim was despised in comparison to that of Solomon.
Let’s recap the comparison: Solomon was “great” in: regard to Family Pedigree regard to Wealth regard to Wisdom, and regard to Reputation or Worldly Acclaim. Rahab was “depraved” in: regard to Family Pedigree regard to Wealth regard to Wisdom, and regard to Reputation or Worldly Acclaim.
So what? Here’s the BIG question: Which one is listed in the “Hall of Faith” as having “gained approval” of God in Hebrews 11? Hebrews 11:31, “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”
Why, do you suppose? Solomon, Despite all of his “greatness” in pedigree, wealth, wisdom, and acclaim, Came to not fully believe God, 1Kings 11:1-4 Did not use his wisdom, to his personal advantage, v.5 And “did evil in the sight of God” v.6 But Rahab, Despite all of her “depravity” in pedigree, wealth, wisdom, and acclaim, Came to fully believe God, Josh.2:8-11 Used her head, vv.4-7 > vv.12-21 And did what was right in the sight of God, 6:22-25 > James 2:25!
What should be the obvious lessons for us? It doesn’t matter whether your family is “adored” or “despised”. It doesn’t matter if you’re “rich” or “poor”. It doesn’t matter if you’re “brilliant” or just “street smart”. It doesn’t matter if you’re “famous” or “infamous”. It matters if you do what is right in the sight of God and therefore become acceptable to Him! James 2:24-26; Hebrews 11:1-2,6,31