Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bible for Dummies - Solomon's Reign - 1 and 2 Kings (Chapter 10, Part 1)

According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest man ever to live on earth (apart from Jesus). So wise was he that when given the opportunity to ask God for one gift, Solomon asked for wisdom.  Yet, as his life advanced he became less wise and more worldly. This leads not only to his personal demise wherein his family was rife with dysfunction, but his commitment to God essentially erodes.

Listen to this episode and learn from Solomon's example about what to do and not do when given a gift from God.  I trust you'll be blessed by the Lord as you study His Word.  - KM

Chapter 10 – A Tale of Two Kingdoms
1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles

Part 1

** The transition from the “Samuel” books to the books of the Kings and Chronicles marks a shift in the Prophet/Priest-dominate era to the era of the kings.

A Quick Recap of Where we Are:

·      David is king over a united Israel.
·      Jerusalem is the capital of the nation, with the Ark of the Covenant (symbol of God’s presence) being in “temporary” housing in Jerusalem

·      Though David is king, his household is marred with dysfunction. Three of his sons (Amnon, Absalom, and the unnamed first son between David and Bathsheba) have died as a consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
·      Sometime after the end of 2 Samuel and the beginning of 1 Kings, David dies and Solomon assumes the throne over Israel.
·      Then we see the beginning of the erosion of Israel, the division of the kingdom into the Northern and Southern kingdoms, and God’s response to the lack of devotion of his people.

The Golden Age of Solomon

Solomon, David’s second son with Bathsheba, was born around 1000BC. He becomes King over Israel in approximately 970BC.

Solomon’s Succession – 1 Kings 1

** The events leading up to Solomon’s succession were:

·      David lay ill…he was close to death.
·      Adonijah, David’s oldest living son by Haggith, was making plans to become king.
·      Joab, the general over Israel’s armies, and Abiathar, the priest, supported Adonijah
·      The problem was, the priest Zadok and Nathan, the prophet, did not agree that Adonijah should be king. (1:8)
·      Adonijah made sacrifices outside of Jerusalem in preparation for the parade into Jerusalem signifying the new king coming into town.
·      All of this happened without David’s knowledge and/or consent. (1:11)

**  Bathsheba made a preemptive request to David that he would declare Solomon as the next king.

·      In that conversation, she told David of Adonijah’s presumptive actions.
·      Nathan entered the conversation after Bathsheba had left asking if David had approved of Adonijah’s succession.
·      David affirms his intent of making Solomon king over Israel.

** David instructs Nathan and Bathsheba to anoint Solomon king over Israel (read 1 Kings 1:33-37)

·      However, in the distance, Adonijah and Joab here the shofars blowing in celebration of Solomon’s coronation.
·      They are given the “bad news” of Solomon’s coronation…which puts an abrupt end to their party (1:49)
·      Adonijah flees to take hold of the “horns of the altar”…a tangible invocation of God’s protection, as he feared that Solomon would try to kill him, as he (Adonijah) had planned to kill Solomon.

** But Solomon hears of Adonijah’s actions, and swears to not harm his half-brother (1:52-53)

·      Solomon summonses Adonijah, meets with him, then sends him home unharmed.

Solomon’s Wisdom – 1 Kings 2

** David is about to die when he calls for Solomon. He charges Solomon with certain duties:

·      Be a good king by following the way of God (1 Kings 2:2-4)
·      Deal wisely with those under his authority (1 Kings 2:5-9). Specifically, though…
o   Kill Joab for his disloyalties to David  and because he murdered those loyal to David (v. 6)
o   Kill Shimei, Saul’s descendant, for his disloyalty to David (v. 9)

** Then David died (2:10) and was buried in Jerusalem.

** Adonijah, next, approaches Bathsheba (1 Kings 2:13) to

·      He acknowledges Solomon’s right to rule.
·      Then he asks Bathsheba to ask Solomon for the right to marry Abishag. 
o   Abishag was part of David’s harem.
o   In Biblical days, a right of succession was the new king had privileges with the deceased king’s harem.
·      This request was in direct contradiction the Adonijah’s confession, earlier, yet Bathsheba went to Solomon and made the request. (2:20-21)
·      Solomon sees through the ruse (2:23) and declares that Adonijah must die for his treason (2:24)
·      So Solomon had Adonijah put to death (2:25)…but not only Adonijah, but also his priestly counsel, Abiathar. Yet Solomon spares “at that time” Abiathar’s life because of his service in carrying the Ark and because he had served David (2:26).
·      So, rather than being put to death, Abiathar is banished by Solomon who stripped all of Abiathar’s priestly rights, privileges, and functions in fulfillment of Eli’s prophecy in Shiloh (1 Samuel 2:13-35)
Acknowledging Solomon’s Wise Request – 1 Kings 3:1-15

·      With all of his detractors out of the way, Solomon is secure on the throne.
·      He marries the daughter of the Pharaoh (3:1). The irony is that their former oppressor (Egypt) now becomes Israel’s most powerful ally.  However, a negative consequence of this alliance is that the princess brings with her the false gods of her culture.
·      He follows David’s charge of being obedient to the Lord (3:3). Part of this devotion was the offering of sacrifices in the “high places”. Since there was no Temple, yet, the people of Israel offered sacrifices in Gibeon, Gilgal, Shiloh, Hebron… they were known as the “high places”.
o   The high places were often former pagan altars which Israel “converted” to the service of Yahweh as Israel conquered the Canaanite lands.
o   However, these high places would eventually come back to haunt Israel as they became the places where Israel began to integrate the sole worship of Yahweh with the syncretism of worshipping Yahweh and false gods.

** Then, on the most important night of Solomon’s night (in my opinion), the Lord God himself appears to Solomon in a dream. 

·      Solomon was at Gibeon (one of the high places) offering sacrifices to the Lord. (read 1 Kings 3:5-15)
o   God invited Solomon to ask Him for whatever he wanted.
o   Solomon asks God  to give him a wise mind so he could rule Israel well; to have a discerning mind, knowing the difference between good and evil. (v. 9)
o   God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that He grants Solomon’s request (v. 12).
o   However, God also blesses Solomon with the bonus of riches and status for all of his life (v. 13)
o   And the final promise was long life. The condition for the latter promise, though, was obedience (v. 14)
·      Solomon awakens, and makes an offering to the Lord in response to God’s graciousness.

Dividing the Truth with Solomon’s Wisdom – 1 Kings 3:16-28

** Solomon’s wisdom is immediately put to the test when two prostitutes ask him to decide a dispute:

·      Both women had had babies within a couple of days of each other.
·      Tragically, one night, one of the prostitutes suffocated her baby by laying on it during sleep.
·      So she got up, exchanged the two babies, and kept the alive baby for herself.
·      When the other woman awoke, she thought her baby had died. But, upon further inspection, she recognized that the dead baby was not hers.
·      Then upon further investigation she discovered that the other prostitute had done the exchange while she slept.
·      However, both women claimed that the living baby belong to them. So they needed the king to decide to whom that baby would be given.

** Solomon’s decision to give the baby to the one woman was based on:

·      …the prostitute who stole the baby was willing to have the baby killed since if she couldn’t be happy, she didn’t want the other woman to be happy…so half of a dead baby accomplished her goal
·      …the woman who was the real mother was willing to lose her baby if that meant the baby would live.
·      Solomon knew that the real mother would never want her baby to die even it if meant losing her son. So he gave the baby to the real mother…the one willing to give the boy up.

** Then the Bible says, “All Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice.”  (1 Kings 3:28)

Solomon’s Building Projects: the Temple
and other Treasures
 1 Kings 5-7

Note:  1 Kings 4:20 reflects a fulfillment of the Abramic Covenant.

Note 2:  1 Kings 4:21, 24 demonstrate how wide Solomon’s sovereignty stretched…

            …East to West: from modern day Iraq to the Mediterranean

            …North to South: from modern day Israel all the way to Egypt

** Once his throne is secure, Solomon selects some key officials to help him rule. Then he goes on a building spree to fortify his kingdom and in honor of the Lord.

·      This is done with the cooperation of King Hiram of Tyre (modern day south Lebanon), who was a friend of David’s and wanted to help David’s son.

1.     Solomon rebuilds the walls and gates of Jerusalem
2.     He builds stables for his horses.
3.     Ultimately, he builds a Temple in order to house the Ark of the Covenant, where Israel would centralize their worship of Yahweh.
a.     The Temple was built using the infamous Cedars of Lebanon…known for their strength, length and trueness.
b.     The dimensions of the Temple building itself were approximately 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high (or 60x20x30 cubits…a cubit = 18 inches)
4.     It took approximately seven years to finish.
5.     Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Lord with a grand celebration lasting two weeks.

Solomon’s Last Days – 1 Kings 9-11

** To say that Solomon was a busy man would be a gross understatement:

·      He had more than 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). The only wife whose name we know from the Bible was Naamah, who bore Rehoboam, who would become king after Solomon.

** Though Solomon did many good things as king, in his latter years he walked away from serving the Lord exclusively, turning to various practices of pagan worship. This was due primarily to the influence of the multiple foreign wives’ religious practices.

·      This is what led, eventually, to Israel’s downfall. God never has and never will tolerate the infidelity of his people. Ultimately, the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (586BC) and the enslavement by Babylon served God’s purpose in punishing Israel.
·      Yet, because of God’s deep love for David, Solomon’s father, God chose to not punish Solomon directly.  (1 Kings 11:12)

** So God raised up many challengers and enemies to go against Solomon.

·      The key figure in Solomon’s latter years is Jeroboam.
o   Jeroboam was appointed by Solomon to supervise the forced laborers in the North.
o   However, one time Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem and a prophet, Ahijah, brought a word of the Lord to Jeroboam.
§  The prophecy declared Israel’s ultimate fate: Division.  10 tribes would unite in the north, 2 (including Judah) would be in the South.
§  God was appointing Jeroboam to be the leader in the north.
§  Solomon heard of the prophecy and sought to kill Jeroboam, but he escaped to Egypt until Solomon died.

** Solomon died after leading Israel for 40 years (I Kings 11:42).

·      His son, Rehoboam, succeeded Solomon.
·      Jeroboam returned from exile in Egypt.

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