In the near future, I will be spending an entire week on the topic of today's post. For now, let's hit the highlights surrounding the circumstances of the kingship after David...
I Kings begins with David being old and near the end of his reign.
"Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him." (I Kings 1:5)
Once again, we have the example of a person facilitating their own purpose and progress at the expense of others. Our tradition sees this as acceptable when it comes to selecting a "leader". We've already seen that God does NOT think this is acceptable and His Word NEVER says LEADERSHIP is attained through campaigning. By the end of the first chapter of Kings, Adonijah appears to accept that Solomon is king.
David's final instructions to Solomon include the following passage:
"That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel." (I Kings 2:4)
Like we saw in yesterday's post, the heart is the metric God uses to measure and value LEADERS.
By the end of I Kings 2, Adonijah and the rest of Solomon's enemies from within Israel are all killed according to justice. Solomon can begin his reign in I Kings 3.
"In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee." (I Kings 3:5)
God is asking the king what he wants. This is God testing what is in Solomon's heart. Solomon's response?
"Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" (I Kings 3:9)
Solomon's request is to be able to facilitate the purpose and progress of others! His request focuses on the cause of helping others: his heart!
"And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days." (I Kings 3:11-14)
God blatantly recognizes that Solomon did NOT facilitate his own purpose and progress WHEN HE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO IT! God says there will be no other king like him. This response from God almost looks like God was willing to do anything and gave to Solomon according to his words (another view at prayer from God's perspective) AND Solomon's request was so good, he either had enough value to get more from God OR the request itself resulted in the ability to get more.
There is another point...Solomon showed he was about facilitating the purpose and progress of others. He is a LEADER. Recall from the previous post on "Understanding and Task", LEADERS are the ONLY people who OUGHT to have power because they don't depend on it like a crutch...they know when to use it. Perhaps Solomon was given so much because he proved he didn't depend on it to get things done.
What do you think of this response from God? If you've read this response before, did you remember ALL the parts of it? How would you have responded if God had said this to you? What would you have been able to repeat 1 year later? 5 years later? 10 years later? 30 years later? Wasn't it COMPLETELY positive?
Actually, the ending of God's response comes with a warning to "keep my statutes and my commandments". Did Solomon keep God's statutes and commandments? What happened to Solomon's heart? For now, let's look at the short version...
Part of God's statutes and commandments say:
"When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among they brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall hencerforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:" (Deuteronomy 17:14-19)
A couple of KEY POINTS:
-God is telling Israel they will want a king like the other nations...this does NOT mean it was in God's Will.
-God says HE will choose the king (oh oh for Absalom and Adonijah...and others!)
-God says the king should read this law constantly.
-God specifically says NOT to get horses from Egypt, make silver abundant, and have a lot of wives BECAUSE they will turn the king's HEART away...
And we all know how important the heart of a king is to God.
What did Solomon do?
"And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones..." (I Kings 10:27)
"And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt..." (I Kings 10:28)
"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father." (I Kings 11:1-4)
Solomon did NOT listen to God's warning and Solomon's heart was turned away.
For those who want to delve more into Solomon before the future week long series, here are two areas to look at:
1. Read the next three verses of I Kings 11 (vv 5-7) and determine WHEN the high places are ACTUALLY taken down. Actually, the passage (vv 8-14) after these three verses shows God's response to Solomon. (More specifically, notice the high places mentioned in I Kings 11:33).
2. Read Ecclesiastes and ask yourself if Solomon was ACTUALLY facilitating the purpose and progress of others. Notice if Solomon at the end of the book has head knowledge about God or heart knowledge and is ACTUALLY doing what God wants. Also, read "Is God Judging the U.S.?" from the links list on the right side of this blog and ask yourself if Solomon addressed the four causes from Ezekiel while Solomon was searching in Ecclesiastes.