Solomon’s Slide Into Sin, Part 2

This is part 2 of my series on Solomon. Part 1 was published last Monday, 9th June 2017. Read it here.

Other Reasons Why Solomon Fell

087-king_solomon_in_old_age1. Solomon was swaying away from God from very soon after David’s death. He was worshipping at the high places where those pagan gods were exalted, which indicates that his heart had never been fully YHWH’s. Under the law of Moses, the only place he should have worshipped should have been at the Tabernacle which was at Gibeon at the time. The ark was separated from the Tabernacle, but it was in David’s Palace at Jerusalem, right where Solomon was living, so he had no excuse for being in a High Place. Access to God doesn’t get much more convenient than down the hall.

2. His reign was never based on serving God. “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-10

Solomon would have done far better if he’d asked God for a relationship with Him that was like his father’s, but God wasn’t his desire. I have always felt that he asked for the wrong thing; however, his choice could have come from David’s influence. This can be found in Proverbs 4:4-9. Verse 5 sums it up: “Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words [David’s] or turn away from them.”

3. The wisdom (Proverbs) of Solomon are very works and justice based, not relationship based in tone. It shows that he was looking at God from a distance. As a result of his gift not being based on pleasing and seeking God, it turned against him. He had no means of dealing with the consequences of so much revelation. “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:18 David had a joy that Solomon never discovered, as he looked to the Lord, despite his suffering.

Solomon gloried in his gift and the recognition and riches it bought him without humbling himself before the Lord, and that poisoned it too. This is probably why his wisdom did not save him from spiritual destruction, it never became an act of worship. Wisdom gave him power, not salvation. “Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.” Ecclesiastes 7:19

sin4. The easy life left Solomon rudderless, and he became excessively ego-centric. Without suffering, Solomon focussed only on himself, discovering that a life without God is meaningless.

“I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless….So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labours. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”
Please read Proverbs 2:1-11 for the whole text.

“So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labours under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.” Ecclesiastes 2:20-21

I could write more about the evils of wealth and risks of absolute power, but it has all been said before and it easily leads to me becoming too easily unrighteously judgemental. I will close with David’s own wise words which are too apt: “Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to Him, but He harshly punishes the arrogant.” Psalm 31:23
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How King David Compares to King Solomon

david-vs-solomon-traits


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The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

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Solomon: The Real World Circumstances Behind His Slide Into Sin

This is the first part of a 2 part article on Solomon. The second part will come out next Friday, June 9th 2017.

087-king_solomon_in_old_ageWe tend to think of Solomon’s descent into abandoning God as a simple process. He had too many foreign wives who influenced him, and that finished him off. However, the more I have studied ancient history and gained an understanding of what was happening in the world surrounding Isra’el, the more I have come to understand that there is a complex set of political dynamics behind why Solomon married those women. Sin is never simple. Rarely are our actions black and white, and like Solomon, disaster can be borne out of common wisdom and accepting what our society tells us is right and harmless.

Many of the bad choices we make are based on fear, and Solomon appears to be no exception. Looking back we know he had a war-free reign, but did Solomon know that would happen? He lived in a terrifying time and acted to mitigate the risks as best he could.

From reading Proverbs, I can see that unlike David, Solomon’s knowledge of God was in the head, not the heart and he never developed the passion for, or dependence on God which would have led him away from making disastrous choices. His fears pulled him towards reliance on his wisdom to make strategic decisions, rather than his heart leading him to act with faith, and that is why he took the safe, well worn route of making political marriages which would protect the nation. It was what many generations of pagan kings had done before him, and in the same way he copied their style of *animalistic throne, he copied their other law-breaking customs as well. Sadly, his lack of faith led to his final downfall when he abandoned YHWH altogether and split the nation he was trying to hold together.

Here are the main features of the world Solomon was living in which would have affected his choices. Please see the links at the end for additional resources which will help this make sense.

  1. Egypt was bouncing back from the Bronze Age Collapse which had kept them quiet. They began to exact vengeance against the Philistines who had taken a great deal of their territory, and would have been a direct threat to Isra’el, as back in Abraham’s time, Canaan was under Egyptian control and they would have wanted that critical piece of land back. The greatest logic as to why Solomon took an Egyptian royal wife was that it was a rational decision to ally the nations and hold off Egypt from attacking them. Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, had an Ammonite mother; she was not the Egyptian princess, so Egypt lost little time in attacking Judah once Solomon was dead and there were no strings attached. [Refs. 1 Kings 9 and 1 Kings 14:25]

2. Egypt wasn’t the only threat to Isra’el’s security. Assyria was also steadily rising and became a terrifying menace which later enslaved the Northern Kingdom. They have the reputation of being the cruelest army to ever have existed on the Earth. Solomon would have watched this and been rightly concerned, plus we don’t know what other significant power struggles were occurring around him.

It is interesting to note the extensive resources Solomon invested in building and fortifying Isra’el. [2 Chronicles 8:5] This is why it seems logical to me that the other foreign wives may have been like the Egyptian Princess: marriages to stop wars and uprisings from places like Assyria and lands such as Moab, which were hit hard by David. They would have wanted to test the military mettle of a new King to see if they could gain control of Isra’el and her many natural resources, but marriage could stop that from occurring.

Solomon was very active in national security, as well as building a prosperous nation. He was making all the right moves. Solomon rebuilt both Megiddo and Gezer, which had been struck by Egypt. [Ref. 1 Kings 9:15] As I said above, Canaan which includes Megiddo, had been under Egyptian control pre-Philistine arrival, as it is an area of vital strategic importance. It has a mountain range which cuts through the middle of trade routes, allowing the control and taxation of the camel and donkey caravans who had little choice but to take that route. It is also a very important military position which has been mown to the ground by war many times. 1 Kings 10:26 tells us of the army Solomon was amassing, which was cutting edge for his day, and strictly against the commands of the Torah. [ Ref. Deuteronomy 17:16] If he had felt safe, he would not have done any of this.

3. Solomon’s world was heavily influenced by the cultural diffusion which had occurred between the Canaanites and Israelites. Diffusion occurs for practical reasons: it opens the way to jobs, better trade and if you can understand and speak to your neighbours, and have things in common, then there is less chance of raids and war. So people ‘sensibly’ intermarry and try to live in harmony, which leads to curiosity about life style and other gods…and then the unfaithful become persuaded to worship Ashtoreth, Molech and/or Chemosh. It’s a subtle, natural process and the reason why God ordered the elimination of those nations. The people were told as far back as the wilderness: ‘don’t even ask others about their gods!’ That is a dangerous conversation when gods lead to guilt-free carnal pleasures as worship. Abandoning YHWH wasn’t planned sin; the people slowly faded into compromise, just as Solomon did, which was their undoing too.

ancient-arabia-yemen-%d8%a8%d9%84%d9%82%d9%8a%d8%b3Even with all these risk factors in mind, Solomon had no excuse for not depending on God to keep Isra’el safe. The entire history if Isra’el proves God’s faithfulness in delivering His people, plus David had set a sterling example of how to lean on God in any situation.
In Proverbs 3, Solomon’s own words are:

5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6: Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
25: You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26: for the LORD is your security.
He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.”

Despite what he said, in practice, he relied on legalistic wisdom, solving the challenges that faced him using that one limited gift. As the commentator MacLaren says: “Proverbs 10:32, contains a collection of isolated maxims which may be described as the product of sanctified common sense. They are shrewd and homely, but not remarkably spiritual or elevated.” That sums up all of his work. God may have given Solomon wisdom, but Solomon didn’t use it for spiritual reasons or to increase his relationship with YHWH, he was too egocentric.

Look at the differences in how David and Solomon approach God. Ecclesiastes 2 uses these words: I made, I bought, I gathered… whereas in David’s song of praise in 2 Samuel 22, repeatedly, God is attributed with victory, well over and above anything David claims for himself. “The Lord is…” “He is…” He heard…” He opened…” “He shot…” “His lightning…”

Solomon lived for himself and his inward focus destroyed the very foundations of his character more than any accumulation of foreign wives could. He could be likened to a house built so poorly that any pressure on it, (fear of war and calamity,) pulled it down, because the foundations had no spiritual strength. Solomon is a terrible tragedy.
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Notes:

To properly understand the time Solomon lived in, you will find these articles helpful. I cannot include all this information here as it’s too extensive and took months of study and research to uncover.
Things You Need to Know About Isra’el
Bronze Age Collapse
Sands and Sin

*Animalistic Throne: from as a far back as the pagan priest kings of Mesopotamia, stelae and orthostats show thrones surrounded by lions or with lion heads carved into the arms of the throne. It was a way of harnessing the power of those mighty animals, and a well understood pagan symbol of power and might: not faith in YHWH.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

The images in this post are Creative Commons and Public Domain Licenced.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How King David Would Want To Be Remembered

There is a simple answer to this question – David would want his life to do one thing: point the way to God.

Unlike his son, Absalom, King David never built a monument to himself. [2 Samuel 18:18 despite 2 Samuel 14:27] He never asked that the temple be named after him, or for Solomon to have a plaque installed on the wall with his name on it. He did not leave behind golden, ostentatious palaces, as his son Solomon did [1 Kings 10:21]; neither did he build himself an impressive funerary monument as the Egyptian kings did. Instead, this is what we hear David saying in his old age.

“My life is an example to many,
because You have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long…

But I will keep on hoping for Your help;
I will praise You more and more.
I will tell everyone about Your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim Your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.
I will praise Your mighty deeds, O Sovereign LORD.
I will tell everyone that You alone are just.
O God, You have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things You do.
Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.

Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.
Then I will praise You with music on the harp,
because You are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to You with a lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy and sing Your praises,
for You have ransomed me.
I will tell about Your righteous deeds
all day long,
for everyone who tried to hurt me
has been shamed and humiliated.” Psalm 71:7-8, then 14-24

In his last words (below), David focusses not on his military prowess, or his leadership achievements, instead he states the blessing that the Lord has bestowed upon him.** This is typical of David. When he talked about his achievements, it was always alongside what God had done; and despite the extensive suffering and loss he had been through, there was no bitterness, complaint, or resentment present.

David’s Last Words
These are the last words of David:
David, the son of Jesse, speaks:
David, the man who was raised up so high,
David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
David, the sweet psalmist of Isra’el.

“The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me;
His words are upon my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The one who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning at sunrise,
like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
on new grass after rain.’
“Is it not my family God has chosen?
Yes, He has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail.
He will ensure my safety and success.
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away,
for they tear the hand that touches them.
One must use iron tools to chop them down;
they will be totally consumed by fire.” 1 Samuel 23

In 2 Samuel 22, he gives a greater list of what has happened in his life, and note that the glory always goes back to God. For example:
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my Saviour,
the One who saves me from violence.
I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.”
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Notes: ** If it seems egotistical in some ways, remember that David lived in a shame/honour culture, where a king who has been shamed is discredited and thrown out of office by his people, so culturally, it is necessary to state how he is honourable and honoured. However, David wrote much more extolling the glory of the Lord. Please see my master list of verses which demonstrate David’s humility. https://www.facebook.com/notes/from-despair-to-deliverance/verses-which-demonstrate-davids-humility/1213522105331651


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Obedience That Hurts ~ #Christianliving

IMG_2172I love the promise of Psalm 37:3-4
“Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the LORD,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.”

This is a beautiful verse which I have read and heard mentioned many, many times. It’s good news for any of us who have dreams, and are hoping for the will of God to prevail, so that we may achieve that thing which we want so dearly.

David had one great dream which he poured everything he had into: he wanted to build a temple to house the Presence of God and the Ark of the Covenant. 1 Chronicles 22:5 tells us that David said, “…the Temple to be built for the LORD must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world, I will begin making preparations for it now.” So David collected vast amounts of building materials before his death.”

He also sorted out the rosters and duties of the priests and temple musicians and in 1 Chronicles 29:3-5, David gives his personal wealth to his dream. “And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the LORD today?”

If you want something in life, you need to be prepared to give. You must sacrifice, stay true to your vision and invest your time and energy in hard work, regardless of what obstacles you face. Success is achieved by effort, faithful devotion to the Lord and consistently pressing forward. In the end, it’s worth it.

But what if you never get to see your dream fulfilled? What if you are not allowed to see your dream fulfilled and have to pass it onto someone else? This is what happened to David.

In 2 Samuel 7, God accepts David’s desire to build Him a house and establishes a covenant with David which will lead to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, who comes from David’s line. That is a massive promise, which overwhelmed David. He would not have understood the full implications, but he certainly understood how much God was honouring him. But despite how much he pleased the Lord, and no matter how great his desire was to have Yahweh worshipped in a manner befitting to his God, this happened: “But the LORD said to me, ‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in My sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor My Name.” 2 Chronicles 22:8 It must have crushed David.

The amount of time it took David to plan, design and put all the materials aside for the temple was extensive, and demonstrates his absolute dedication to his dream. He worked on the temple down the the last detail, as shown in 1 Chronicles 28:11-19.

“Then David gave Solomon the plans for the Temple and its surroundings, including the entry room, the storerooms, the upstairs rooms, the inner rooms, and the inner sanctuary—which was the place of atonement. David also gave Solomon all the plans he had in mind for the courtyards of the LORD’s Temple, the outside rooms, the treasuries, and the rooms for the gifts dedicated to the LORD. The king also gave Solomon the instructions concerning the work of the various divisions of priests and Levites in the Temple of the LORD. And he gave specifications for the items in the Temple that were to be used for worship.

David gave instructions regarding how much gold and silver should be used to make the items needed for service. He told Solomon the amount of gold needed for the gold lampstands and lamps, and the amount of silver for the silver lampstands and lamps, depending on how each would be used. He designated the amount of gold for the table on which the Bread of the Presence would be placed and the amount of silver for other tables.

David also designated the amount of gold for the solid gold meat hooks used to handle the sacrificial meat and for the basins, pitchers, and dishes, as well as the amount of silver for every dish. He designated the amount of refined gold for the altar of incense. Finally, he gave him a plan for the LORD’s “chariot”—the gold cherubim whose wings were stretched out over the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant. “Every part of this plan,” David told Solomon, “was given to me in writing from the hand of the LORD.”

Trésor_de_CésaréeThis is one of the events in David’s life which makes me stop and wonder how I would handle being in the same position. I would have a terrible time with it. I like to have a vision, but I like to see results. To be able to make preparations to that extent and not be able to even lay the foundation, would test my dedication to that vision to the maximum extent. David had bought the land at least a decade before he died. His offer to build the temple came a long time before that. It’s not as if this was an idea he had late in life, when he was rich enough to throw it all together and didn’t have to live with the restriction for long. This was a long-term disappointment, and perhaps a long term frustration.

When Nathan gives David God’s response to his desire to build a temple in 2 Samuel 7, there is no mention of David being told he couldn’t be the builder at that time. He must have found out afterwards, perhaps as he searched for land? Perhaps as he sought the Lord for guidance on what He desired? After rejoicing over God’s acceptance of his gift and the making of the Davidic covenant, “no, not you,” must have been a painful shock. We don’t know when this happened or how, but it certainly shows David’s great love for the Lord that he continued on. When the temple was built he wouldn’t be there to enjoy it, neither would he be there to gain any glory from it. (Though he was honoured by both God and man at that time. See 2 Chronicles chapters 5 to 7.)

What astounds me is that David obeyed, no matter how much it hurt. That is incredibly hard to do, especially for a King who is accustomed and entitled to be obeyed. He could have taken the egotistical route and done what he wanted, anyway; but David knew how to be humble. He accepted that no was no, and he stuck by the rules. That is not typical behaviour for many of us, let alone for a monarch.

This part of David’s life is a lesson in how to deal with disappointment and how to stay faithful, no matter what. However, the aspect which stands out clearer to me than anything else, is how much David communicated with the Lord to put all the plans for the temple together. He would have spent many hours in prayer and waiting on God for guidance and that time would have been incredibly precious. That is the real lesson in this example of David’s life: if you want to serve and honour God: invest everything you’ve got in the time you spend with Him.

 


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Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.