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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Kintsugi and Kings: Using the Blessing You’ve Been Given

kintugi

Image by Haragayato, Wikimedia Commons

The greatest contrast between King David and King Saul, is the way they responded to the Presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It’s not simply that David had more faith in God, or was more obedient; David strode out in front because when given access to God’s Spirit, he grabbed that blessing with both hands, hung onto the Holy Spirit for dear life and made the most of the blessing he’d been given.

Only a handful of people in the Old Testament were granted the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Knowing this has had me scratching my head wondering what was up with Saul? We all invest in our relationship with God differently, however, if the Presence of God was so rare in Saul and David’s time, why didn’t Saul grab hold of His empowerment, as David did, and run with it? Why didn’t he bother to develop his relationship with God in such a desperate time?

Many men have resisted the prompting of the Lord with devout stubbornness beyond logical reasoning. Saul was known for acting out of fear and desperation, from the earliest accounts of him hiding behind the baggage carts, wanting to avoid being made King. I believe that fear was the main reason why he didn’t build and benefit from his link to the Lord. Later, the pride that came with the position of Kingship and the successes could have added to that problem. Saul was willing to fall into despair rather than overcome. He didn’t reach out to the Lord for what He needed, so God was never allowed to help and guide him. He became a cracked, broken pot which had to be discarded, rather than lovingly repaired.

There is a Japanese method for repairing broken pottery called kintsugi. One blogger aptly called it, “the art of embracing damage.” This is pretty much what David did, instead of crumbling when he felt broken, then recoiling in fear, David surveyed the damage and allowed God’s Spirit to beautifully repair him. He didn’t give up as the challenges that faced him were too hard, and the dangers too great: he prayed, praised and fasted his way through. David allowed the Lord to pick up the pieces, and he never stopped doing this.

A short, simple definition of kintsugi can be found on Wikipedia:
“Kintsugi (金継ぎ?, きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い?, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise… As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.”

Pottery from the excavation directed by Montagu Brownlow Parker at Mount Ophel, Jerusalem

Pottery from the excavation directed by Montagu Brownlow Parker at Mount Ophel, Jerusalem.

When allowed, God is the greatest kingsugi Master. He will repair even hairline cracks with the most beautiful materials and intricate craftsmanship; and unless we deliberately chip away at His repair, it will hold. He did this with David so many times and we can still see and are encouraged by the delicate streams of gold which run through David’s life.

Whenever trouble overwhelmed David, he went to God for the answer and built more strength into his relationship with God each time he did this. When God didn’t answer immediately, David never stopped hammering on His door until he got the response he needed, no matter what. He did not resort to killing to make himself feel secure. He did not go against his moral or spiritual beliefs to deal with his enemies: he knew he had the Spirit of the Lord and he actively built that relationship and because that link became strong, it was able to hold him up, even when he was so sick he should have died.

There is a very simple lesson in this: when God gives you an opportunity to rely on His Spirit, use it! Build on that relationship, use His power and guidance and give it everything you’ve got!


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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.

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.

King David’s Diplomacy: Manipulative or Spirit Driven?

donotjudgeLearning about King David has been a continual reminder to never judge, especially as no matter how much I have studied, because David’s life is presented as a series of anecdotes, I will never have all the facts. I look at some of David’s actions as a leader and I honestly don’t know whether to trust him, call him a schemer, or give him the benefit of the doubt, as maybe he was doing the right thing? In some cases it did seem like David was doing the only right thing that could be done; the problem is, as he lied in some incidents leading up to pivotal events, he’s given me reason to doubt his character. Without knowing what he was thinking, his motives can look suspicious.

The text which makes me doubt him the *most is at the beginning of 2 Samuel. King Ishbosheth’s Captain, Abner, is murdered by Joab, the Philistines have killed Saul and Jonathan and Isra’el is divided by civil war. Ishbosheth rules the north and David, Judah, in the south. Both kingdoms must come together, and angered by Ishbosheth, Abner decides he will make David King of all.

“Meanwhile, Abner had consulted with the elders of Israel. “For some time now,” he told them, “you have wanted to make David your king. Now is the time! For the LORD has said, ‘I have chosen David to save my people Israel from the hands of the Philistines and from all their other enemies.’” Abner also spoke with the men of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron to tell David that all the people of Israel and Benjamin had agreed to support him.” 2 Samuel 3:17-19

Abner is not the kind of man you want to trust, but David had to, and did. However, dirty business had gone on in the background between Joab’s brothers and Abner, and at a critical point, Joab murdered Abner in cold blood, in revenge for killing his brother Asahel. [Ref. 1 Samuel 2 and 3]

Quite rightly, David was angry. That murder opened the way for David to be made King of all of Isra’el and he could easily have been blamed for the murder. So he makes a smart move:
“Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on burlap. Mourn for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner:
“Should Abner have died as fools die?
Your hands were not bound;
your feet were not chained.
No, you were murdered—
the victim of a wicked plot.”
All the people wept again for Abner. David had refused to eat anything on the day of the funeral, and now everyone begged him to eat. But David had made a vow, saying, “May God strike me and even kill me if I eat anything before sundown.”
This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them! So everyone in Judah and all Israel understood that David was not responsible for Abner’s murder.
Then King David said to his officials, “Don’t you realize that a great commander has fallen today in Israel? And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah—Joab and Abishai—are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these evil men for their evil deeds.” 2 Samuel 3:31-39

So, how genuine do you think David’s grief was? It does appear that it could have been wholly politically motivated. However, remember that most of the story is missing.

  1. Could David have fought alongside Abner when they were both in Saul’s army? Battlefields make for deep bonds and who knows, one of them could have saved the other’s life. Their relationship is completely unknown other than a few brief conversations.
  2. There is an old tradition within military circles which goes back to ancient times: even if you don’t like someone in authority, you salute them as you respect their rank, regardless of what you think of the man. This could have applied and would reflect well on David’s character.
  3. We don’t know what Abner’s military service record was. He could have been a great hero of the nation, deserving the utmost respect. To be a commander in Saul’s army he would have been a brave man and an excellent warrior. David may be rightfully honouring that.
  4. Showing kindness to someone by respecting their reputation is always an excellent move.

yhryhrDavid did what was culturally right, what was politically right, what was Scripturally right and what also saved his hide. Whichever way your opinion of David’s actions sways, his actions were a win and were overwhelmingly approved by the people. He was God’s choice for the throne and this event soon after enabled the Lord’s Will to be put in place.

Shortly after, Ishbosheth was murdered in his bed, a cowardly act which also enraged David. That was a dishonourable way to dethrone a king, especially as his murderers then went to David wanting favour for handing him the northern kingdom. David correctly had these traitors immediately put to death. [Ref: 2 Samuel 4]

Whatever you think of David, he was an excellent leader who was congenial, righteous and popular with the people; and when the scales were balanced, “the LORD made David victorious wherever he went….David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people.” 2 Samuel 8:14b-15 Unless his heart was in the right place and he was acting correctly under God’s favour, that would not have been the case.

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*David mourned Saul and Jonathan in a similar, appropriate manner (regardless of what he must have thought of Saul,) in the Song of the Bow. [2 Samuel 1] This is the other act of diplomacy which has me wondering exactly what motivated David to say words like these:
“O women of Israel, weep for Saul,
for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing,
in garments decorated with gold.
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.” 1 Samuel 1:24-25


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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 the Old Testament and New Testament Collide in David’s Life: #PeaceDay

imageIf there is any place within the Bible where the principles of the Old Testament (law) and New Testament (life in the Spirit) dovetail, it’s in the life of King David. Regardless of his powers as the King of Isra’el, David lived much of his life in submission to God and guided by His Spirit. As a result, he was able to partially transcend the limits of the law, and live a life of spiritual wisdom which was a millennia out of the reach of others.

The laws handed down through Moses allowed punishment and retribution for sin. They functioned as scales of justice: if someone did wrong, they were paid back equally. While David often delivered punishment in alignment with the law, he was also able to “let the Spirit renew [his] thoughts and attitudes and put on [a] new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” [Ref. Ephesians 4:23-24]

Until I began to study David, I presumed that such an esteemed warrior would rectify issues with any enemy by violence. I was wrong. David never engaged in needless violence which was outside the boundaries of the law (despite temptation to do otherwise as a young man in 1 Samuel 25), and in Psalm 37, David surprised me by saying this:
“Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Even in our time, this is what we would consider an enlightened attitude. For the Old Testament, particularly when people wanted him dead, it’s exceptional and an undeniable mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

While the Psalms are not in chronological order, Psalm 35 refers to attempts to usurp his Divinely ordained rule, which is a challenge which repeatedly threatened and worried King David, even into his old age. [Read Psalm 71 for more.]
Psalm 35:7: “I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.”
and verse 11: “Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.”

David, being David, took these problems to the Lord, as other parts of Psalm 35 show.
“O LORD, oppose those who oppose me.
Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armour, and take up your shield.
Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
“I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
a wind sent by the angel of the LORD.
Make their path dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.
Then I will rejoice in the LORD.
I will be glad because he rescues me.” Psalm 35:1-9 NLT

Hold on, didn’t I just say that David had adopted a nature that was beyond the limitations of law-based thinking? If I return to the book of Ephesians, verse 5:8b encourages us to “live as people of the light.” We are to live with love, speaking pleasantly and being thankful to to God, and we are to “carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” [Ref. Ephesians 5:10] Requesting that our enemies be shamed and disgraced sounds nothing like that!

imageListen to Psalm 37:3-9 and you will find the Spirit-led part of David, which later took over.
“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.
Commit everything you do to the LORD.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.”

That sounds more like, “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” [Ref. Ephesians 4:26] So why does David undulate between Old Testament thinking and being led by the Holy Spirit? The answer is in Psalm 37:25.
“Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.”

With age comes experience. That creates wisdom and a desire to live in peace. That would account for part of David’s change in attitude, but there is a second dynamic at work here. David died aged seventy. He’d been blessed with the Presence of the Holy Spirit since he was a teenager, and as the years unfolded, David had spent a great deal of time seeking the Lord, and learning from the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Heart had been able to sink in and radically modify his behaviour.

I have a great affection for the older David; the ageing father who was concerned about the young Solomon’s ability to rule the nation, who was passionate about teaching the next generation of Hebrews about the Lord, poured his time into preparing for the temple which was to house the Ark of the Covenant and the Presence of God, and who died with an incredible grace, which made the law look inadequate and incomplete. As we observe the United Nations Day of Peace this year, may we also adopt the same attitude that the Holy Spirit developed within David:
“Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” Psalm 34:14


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This post does not represent my agreement or disagreement with any action of the United Nations, it simply marks the day, regardless of what year you read the post on (despite the 2016 theme being a mismatch.)

Please note that the graphics used in this post belong to the United Nations and have been made available to the public to promote the day. http://internationaldayofpeace.org and http://www.un.org/peaceday/