REFLECTIONS FROM 1 & 2 KINGS
My goal in writing reflections from 1 & 2 KINGS are the following: First, to encourage you the reader that if you will pay attention to the words on the page and listen carefully you will mine a lot of truth for life without the need of a commentary or any secondary source. That is, “take up and read” to enrich your soul Christian.
Second, I write to give you a model of how observations can be done in scripture that do not read into the text something foreign to the author’s intent. This will help you experience the joy of discovery and increase your confidence in your ability to comprehend God’s word.
Third, by doing the above my hope is that you will be able to hear God’s voice all the more clearly because it is the word of God that is forever settled in heaven, and not our subjective impressions, however valid they may be. That is, we have a more sure word of prophecy according to Peter—meaning the inscripturated word of God—then a glorious experience we may claim to have (2 Peter 1:16-21). Too often we Christians have bizarre ideas of what “God” is supposedly speaking to us and when it contradicts the Bible, be assured we are not hearing his voice.
1 KINGS 4-7: “THE OPULENCE OF SOLOMON—SOURCED IN GOD”
Solomon’s true wealth was not his material possessions (which were massive), but the wisdom God gave to him. This wisdom was given to the young king in response to his petition for; “An understanding heart to judge Your [God] people to discern between good and evil…” (3:9). What would occur if leaders and rulers would make this petition the content of their desires, rather than the obvious prestige and power which come along with said positions? I think those following would be more joyful and less oppressed because this mark of a righteous leader mirrors God’s priorities in ruling.
Solomon’s petition God granted but much more; “I [God] have also given you what you have not asked…” which was a staggering amount of material treasure (3:10-13). During this time, Solomon had his “team” of co-reigners with him to assist in the ruling of the land (4:1-19), and Judah along with Israel lived in an abundant prosperity never before seen or experienced after Solomon’s reign (4:20, 25).
We must not forget to make much of God here rather than Solomon because the LORD is the source of said staggering wealth, not the king. The Scriptures are clear that God—by virtue of being the creator—is the owner of everything in the earth, not his creatures; “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains”. Solomon’s true wealth (wisdom) shows itself by gathering the needed skilled workers for building the temple of the LORD (5:13-18) and by the ability to organize the labor force. Unless one has tried such an endeavor, it’s difficult to appreciate the difficulty of said task.
The description of both the temple and Solomon’s palace is impressive strewn with its cedar, gold and stone materials used to aesthetically adorn the windows and carvings by the smiths. In all this activity, God essentially tells Solomon; “What you are doing is good, but if you forsake Me, you won’t be blessed. However if you follow Me, I’ll be with you” (6:11-13). The fruit of Solomon’s work was grounded in God’s favor toward him, but it was conditioned on his obedience, not his rebellion. That is, above and beyond the material wealth and even wisdom God granted to Solomon, there was and is no greater wealth than to be right with god for here is where His presence is promised for blessing, not cursing. Nevertheless, Solomon like so many of us disobeyed Gods command. He made alliances with the surrounding nations, marrying for political gain which became a snare to him—his spouses led him away to worship other “gods”.
The fact is that such power can turn one to madness if it is not submitted to God.
This was Solomon’s experience (read Ecclesiastes) and yet God remains faithful to his faithless children working out his providential will even through their disobedience (Rom.8:28-29). That’s amazing!