Was looking through some older writings and found this one. I thought someone might enjoy it. I edited it somewhat, but not much. Let me know what you think.
Through the Jesus Lens
He is described as one of the greatest kings of Israel. His wisdom is quoted in many books and countries. Archaeologists and explorers have sought his riches. King Solomon is truly one of the great historical characters in the Old Testament. But what can his life tell us about the Christian life? How can the way he lived, help us to walk closer in the footsteps of Christ?
Solomon was the second child of Bathsheba and King David. His mother raised him in the court of women. His name, given by God through the prophet Nathan, was Jedidiah- loved by the Lord. His upbringing is not really talked about, but his ascension to the throne is a story of intrigue and political maneuvering.
Establishing the second Davidic Throne
When David became old and was coming to the end of his life his son, Adonijah began to gather around him supporters for his succession of the throne. He managed to procure support of a priest, Abiathar, and Joab, David’s top military advisor. Having these supporters gave him the support of many people who would believe what these supporters told them. While Adonijah was having his celebration banquet Nathan, the prophet, went to Solomon’s mother. Hearing that Adonijah was making a move on the throne she immediately went to the king under Nathan’s instruction. When David heard the news he called for Solomon and the priests. He announced that Solomon would be king, and not Adonijah. This was done to fulfill God’s promise. Solomon was put upon the kings mule and was taken to Gihon and anointed King over Israel.
Hearing that his plan to be king had been foiled, Adonijah fled to the altar and made Solomon swear that he would not kill him. Solomon made no promises. He gave Adonijah the opportunity to prove himself to be a loyal subject. However after the death of their father David, Adonijah made another move on the throne. He went to Solomon’s mother and sent her to Solomon to make a request for Abishag, a shunammite woman who had been David’s companion in his old age. This request infuriated Solomon. By giving Adonijah this woman from his harem Adonijah would have political pull, and a connection to the throne. Solomon could not have this. This seemingly innocent request was another political move to oust Solomon from the throne. Solomon saw straight to the heart of the matter. He ordered his head of the military, Benaiah to kill Adonijah and his two supporters. Now that Solomon had cleaned house, he turned his attention to foreign support.
Solomon made a treaty with Egypt and sealed the deal by marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter. This was not a wise choice, as God did not look upon this political marriage favorably. However Solomon’s commitment to God paid off. God offered Solomon whatever he wanted. He could have asked for riches, or land, or power. But rather Solomon asked for the wisdom and discernment to rule the land he had been given. This humble request was rewarded with an even better treasure. Solomon was given the wisdom he requested. But he was also given wealth, power, and peace in his land.
Though Solomon was committed to the Lord, he was not necessarily in right standing with the law. He took many wives. He expanded his horses and his riches, against God’s commands. His undoing came back to his original weakness, women. He had so many wives and concubines that they were a distraction for him. He allowed them to bring their own gods into the palace, and thus the corruption in the palace was spiritual. Solomon’s heart was turned against God. In response God took the peace away from Solomon’s house. Solomon was now opposed on many sides, and the country began to rebel. It eventually split into a Northern and Southern Kingdom.
Some clues to Solomon’s Character
David and Solomon are not said to have much in common. In fact David was raised in the fields. He was a warrior. He had hard-calloused hands and realistic approach to what he did. He lived by faith on what God led him to do. Solomon on the other hand was raised in the court of women in the palace. He was not a warrior. It was a good thing that he ruled over a peaceful time for most of his life, because his experience in battle situations was probably limited to what he had heard about his father. There is concern in David when he gives Solomon the throne. He instructs him to be a man. This might lead us to believe that David felt that Solomon was too soft to handle the really hard situations. This probably would have instilled a feeling of inadequacy in Solomon, just enough to cause him to really try hard to show that he was capable, but not so much that it caused him to falter and make terrible decisions. In fact right away in Solomon’s reign we see him following David’s orders. He is showing himself to be an upright person by following through with his dead father’s wishes wisely, and not chaotically.
One commonality that Solomon and David did share was the weakness for women. David’s weakness pronounced itself with his adulterous relationship with Solomon’s mother. David later repented and resolved the situation and thus Solomon was born. In Solomon’s case we first see his weakness with the princess of Egypt. The Egyptian’s were a people that God did not look well on. But Solomon marries the princess anyway. We don’t know for sure if God was angry with Solomon for this particular marriage, as it did help to procure peace in Israel. However, God did become angry after the 700 wives of Solomon proved to be evil and destructive. It is one thing to marry the wrong woman, but to let them to pull you away from your God is an entirely other thing. This weakness destroyed the kingdom and plunged it into many years of corrupt and inept rule. Solomon’s weakness proved his undoing.
Though Solomon’s weakness for women proved his demise; he did have the ability to see his own shortcomings and lean on God. When offered a gift of anything from God, he chooses wisdom to rule, he doesn’t choose riches or power he chooses what will further his reign for the better. Solomon recognized that he did not have the ability to rule Israel with his own understanding. He also recognized that God could give him what he needed. It is important to note that the wisdom Solomon sought was not a spiritual wisdom; it was a worldly wisdom, which is important. However spiritual wisdom would have provided him with the ability to hold the kingdom together, and not fall into the trap of the foreign gods brought in by his wives.
David set the bar for the Davidic king; however that bar was set very low, because it is a human standard. David proved to be a good king despite his run-ins with adultery, murder, incest, and family strife. But after him the steady fall begins, even with Solomon. The end of Solomon’s life sees the splitting of Israel. The two kings left on their respective thrones are no better than Solomon. So where does the problem lie? Where does it begin?
Truly the problem begins with David. His children see the mistakes he makes. The strife that happened in his own family set a bad example for his children who will succeed him. The internal war with Absalom creates such a rift in the royal family that is never really healed. At the root of the trouble is a primitive understanding of God and who he is. The prophets deliver God’s voice, everything else is up to how the law is interpreted and with a culture full of false gods and lawlessness just outside the city gates, and interpretation is very different from person to person. What is needed to truly rule Israel is a king that understands the rules of grace. That comes only in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the only king that can be totally committed to God. Solomon lost his commitment. In fact we can see that his sense of commitment is extremely flawed in the fact that he has 700 wives plus a number of concubines. I understand that was part of the culture, but that part of the culture was against God’s laws. So how would things have been different if Solomon had an understanding of the person of Jesus Christ?
Had the understanding of the law been changed to an understanding of grace at the time of Solomon we would have seen a drastically different outcome. First Solomon’s sense of inadequacy would have not been a factor. He would have understood that God put Him where he was supposed to be, and that He would provide exactly what he needed regardless of cultural norms or earthly wisdom. God did provide wisdom, but because of the rule of the law Solomon thought he could bend the rules and still be okay.
Have you ever felt inadequate? Honestly I can say that I do just about every day. I feel like I am in way over my head so often. But the amazing thing is that I have faith that relies on God’s strength and provision and not my own. That being so I have never failed in a task that God has set me on, because He has done all the work. Grace requires the complete reliance on God to provide for everything. My earthly understanding is useless. However my spiritual understanding of God as the ultimate provider is paramount in any situation. Jesus explains this in Luke 12:27-28. God takes care of the flowers, how much more does he love you?
Being qualified is relative. Different people will say you are qualified or not depending on their opinion. Moses was not qualified to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, yet he did so under God’s leadership. Peter was not qualified to preach; yet he stood up on the day of Pentecost and delivered one of the greatest sermons ever spoken. Paul was a hater of Christians, yet he became the first foreign missionary, and the father of pastoral teaching. Men may think that they know what qualifies someone for something, but the fact is that God is the only one who really knows what a human being is capable of doing. Do not think for an instant that God does not know what He is doing when you are led into doing something that you don’t feel qualified to do. Inadequacy is only that state of mind that you create. If God says do it, then do it. He isn’t going to send you out without the ability to accomplish what you were sent to do, but what about the expectations that you don’t meet.
Again we have to look at David’s speech to Solomon. David was a shepherd and a warrior. His hands were worn and calloused to the point that if he shook your hand you would probably hurt for a couple of minutes. He was strong and confident in his ability in battle. Solomon on the other hand was soft. His hands were polished and clean. He was raised in the lap of luxury, not the harshness of war. The speech that David gives is full of clues that lead us to see that Solomon may not have met David’s expectations for the next king, though David was still trusting God to handle everything. So we see much like us Solomon faced some unexpressed expectations. It is easy to see why. David was one of the greatest warriors that Israel had ever seen. His son and heir to the throne would be expected to be the same way.
Right away we can see the problem with unexpressed expectations. Many people in Israel expected the next King to be a warrior, yet David’s rule had paved a pathway for peace for Israel. So what they needed was a king to know how to rule in times of peace. A warrior king would only bring more war to the country. Our expectations are not always what are needed. When Jesus was in His earthly ministry and was recognized as the true king of the Jews He did not fit expectations either. The people expected that Messiah would come and remove the Romans with such swiftness that the world would shake. The Roman emperor would have no choice but to bow down and worship the true God. But here is Jesus, meek and lowly. He is a carpenter. His followers are uneducated fisherman. His army is the dregs of society, the poor, the lame, and the women. The Pharisees cannot stomach it, the Romans will not believe it, and eventually the people will refuse it. What people expected and what people needed were two completely different things.
One time when I was married, my wife began to feel a horrible pain in her side. So we went to the doctor. The pain severity, frequency, and location had my medical mind working overtime, I new for sure that it was her appendix. I expected a quick surgery to remove the rogue organ, and then things would be fine. But what she needed was rest, and relaxation. The doctor knew better than I did.
The people needed a savior. God knew better. Israel did not need a king in the first place. There was no need if they would just concentrate on God’s law and God. So when the time came to fix the problem God fixed it with His wisdom. He didn’t lean on weak human understanding. He used his magnificent plan and defied expectation with a cross, not a sword.
Solomon would defy expectation by choosing wisdom and discernment, over money and power. God used his will, over the people’s expectation. Just like the doctor knew better than I did, God knows better than we do. Our expectations don’t always fit. When Elijah wanted to hear God he listened to the earthquake, he expected to hear God in that, but there was no voice, nor in the fire, or in the wind. It was in the unexpected still small voice that God spoke.