Warnings and Worries
“Speak, Lord, as I come to You to receive the food of Your holy Word. Take Your truth, plant it deep in me” (Keith Getty/Stuart Townsend).
Read 1 KINGS 9:1-19
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“To glorify God means to think and act in such a way that the goodness, greatness, and beauty of God are constantly obvious to ourselves and all those around us” (Dallas Willard, 1935-2013). A challenge that Solomon ultimately failed and a challenge we must strive to attain.
When there is someone we really look up to, someone who has done great things, it is really hard when we hear that they, like the rest of us, have feet of clay. There can be a tendency to assume either the great things were not so great or the bad things can’t really be true. Usually, both assumptions are false. Chapter 8 is in many ways the high point of Solomon’s reign–at least as far as the account in Kings is concerned–but chapter 9 again raises questions. God’s second appearance to Solomon is specifically related to the first–we are clearly meant to view the two together. The Temple building is affirmed and Solomon’s great potential for good is again recognized, but the “if” that was there in the background of the first message comes strongly to the fore. We are firmly reminded that both the land and the Temple are closely linked to Israel’s identity as the people of God. If that identity is nullified by their behavior, then both land and Temple will be lost. God’s deep desire that Solomon should avoid this disaster is apparent, but so also is the worry that he might fail to do so.
The second half of the chapter is a record of other elements in Solomon’s reign, provided without editorial comment. We learn that his diplomatic exchanges, even with Hiram of Tyre, were not always seen as positive (13). He regularly used forced labor to carry out his building projects (15), though the projects were indeed remarkable. He even enslaved remaining non-Israelite inhabitants of the land. Readers are being asked to assess for themselves whether or not this is a picture of the kind of king that was envisaged for Israel in Deuteronomy (Deut. 17:14-20).
What modern gods compete for your allegiance? How does God stake his claim to be “the one and only” in your life? Does he have first place? Why or why not?
Lord, when the story of my life is told, will I have taken up the challenges and responded to the warnings provided? Lord, may it be so.