Monday, 5 May 2014

(126) May 6: 1 Kings 10-11 & Luke 24:1-35

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why and how Solomon’s kingdom falls.

To ponder:
Solomon is portrayed as the closest Israel ever had to the ideal King. The Queen’s visit shows he fulfilled God’s purpose of the nations marvelling at both Israel’s wisdom and her relationship with the LORD (Deut 4v6-7). And Solomon’s wisdom is stressed by her testing him, him finding nothing too hard, and her declaration that he even exceeded expectations. What the ideal king would mean for the kingdom is also highlighted by her declaration of how “happy” Solomon’s men and officials must be. But the climax is her praise of God and his love in giving Israel such a king. All this makes Solomon the supreme pattern of Christ, who is the wisdom of God incarnate. Indeed, because the Queen listened to Solomon, at the judgement she will condemn those who don’t listen to Christ, who is greater (Matt 12v42). By contrast, those who will listen, can bring Christ all that is on their mind (10v2), with certainty that he will give them the wisdom they need (Jam 1v5-8).
            Solomon’s greatness is also emphasized by both the Queen and Hiram bringing him tribute, and Solomon giving her gifts in return. This patterns the expectation that the nations of the earth would bring their tribute to Christ, as so many billions (including many kings) have (Is 60). Moreover, there may be a hint at how Christ gives gifts too – those of salvation, and those by which we serve (Eph 4v8).
            The detailing of Solomon’s wealth confirms that God’s promise to make him the greatest king of his time is fulfilled (3v12-13). And we’re specifically told that “nothing like” his throne “had ever been made for any other kingdom.” Indeed, he was “greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” so that the whole world sought his wisdom and brought him tribute. But…he was not the king to establish David’s everlasting kingdom. We’re carefully told that despite all this Solomon actually broke every requirement for Israel’s kings – excessive horses (with some from Egypt), excessive wives and excessive wealth (10v26-11v6, see Deut 17v16-17).
            Most serious was his intermarriage with the Canaanite peoples, who turned his once devoted heart to their gods, and for whom he even built high places for worship. This would be a warning to future Israel not to do the same. It meant Solomon “did evil in the eyes of the LORD,” not “following the LORD completely” as David had. So the LORD was “angry” and told Solomon he would give the kingdom (ten tribes) to a subordinate. However, for David’ sake, God would not do it in Solomon’s lifetime, and he would ensure Solomon’s descendents ruled at least one tribe. As this makes eleven, this “one” must refer to Benjamin, assuming the royal tribe of Judah would be Solomon’s too. These tribes were kept because God had promised David that his dynasty would endure (11v36, 2 Sam 7v15-16).
Problems actually begun before Solomon’s death as God “raised up” Hadad and Rezon as adversaries, presumably fighting against him. Both were survivors of David’s wars, showing that Israel’s peace during Solomon’s reign was not due to a lack of possible enemies, but due to God’s restraint of them. 
            The “subordinate” to take the kingdom, however, was Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials. The prophet Ahijah’s message to him confirms what God had told Solomon and why (11v30-36), ensuring we do not miss the reasons for what follows, and stressing God remained faithful to David. Ahijah also hints the nation had followed Solomon’s idolatry (11v33). Moreover, he promises an equivalent line for Jeroboam, if he would walk in God’s ways as Solomon should have.
            As Solomon seeks to kill Jeroboam, he flees to Egypt. And after Solomon then dies, his son Rehoboam succeeds him.

Praying it home:
Thank God for the wisdom of Christ’s rule. Pray that we would listen to Christ, and those from all nations would come to also.

Thinking further: The Kingdom divided
From this point we will hear of the Northern Kingdom (referred to as “Israel” or “Ephraim” after Joseph’s key son), comprising the ten tribes given Jeroboam, and the Southern Kingdom (referred to as “Judah”), comprising Judah and Benjamin, ruled by David’s descendents through Rehoboam. So Solomon’s reign was very much the summit for Israel. In it God’s people not only reached the height of their experience, but also began a terrible descent.

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