Tag Archives: Solomon

Through the Bible, April 29

1 Chronicles 15:1-24; 22:2-19; 28:1-29:22

Summary: Today’s reading will focus on material related to David and Solomon found only in 1 Chronicles.  This includes additional information from the occasion that David moved the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, his words of advice and wisdom to Solomon, as well as his final prayer.

Also found in 1 Chronicles, but which we will not read, is the account of David’s organization of the Priests, Levites, and other officials related to the work and service of the temple, including musicians and gatekeepers (1 Chronicles 23-27).

Devotional Thought:

Valuable Lessons from a Dismal Failure

I really do love fly fishing.   One thing I enjoy about it is that there is always something more to learn.  No matter how good, or bad, one may be at it there is something they can learn to help them be better at it, enjoy it more, and, hopefully, catch more fish. The “I’ve-got-it-all-figured-out” mentality doesn’t last long.

Anyone interested in serving and seeking and pleasing God will be on the constant lookout for insights and understanding about how that can be done better.

Here’s something interesting from David’s experience of moving the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.  The first attempt had been disastrous.  Uzzah died as a result (see 1 Chron. 13).  Notice this comment from David reflective of that failed effort; “Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us because we did not seek him according to the rule” (1 Chron. 15:13).

Here are some observations about that first attempt:

The decision to bring the ark was made by the best leadership (see. 13:1).

The effort was considered to be “from the Lord” (see 13:2).

Consensus opinion of the people was that it was “right” (see 13:4).

The project enjoyed wide-ranging support (see 13:5).

Due respect was given to what the ark meant and represented (see 13:6).

It was a time of great celebration (see 13:8).

And yet God “broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”  Here are some more observations based on David’s assessment.

Our good intentions are not sufficient, we must follow God’s “rule”.

Otherwise good leadership can be wrong.

Consensus opinion is of little value in pleasing God.

What seems “right” and “from the Lord” to us, may not be at all.

Widespread support and celebratory moods do not sanctify a wrong.

Proper understanding and respect for God in one area does not cover over failure to obey in another.

What’s the bottom line?  Well, let’s allow Jesus to say it; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Through the Bible, April 22

1 Kings 12-14

Summary: It is not as the instigator of the division of the nation for which Jeroboam is best known–that had been prophesied by God (see 1 Kings 11:35) and the tribes were “given” to him.  Instead, it is because of what he did after becoming king of the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  His posterity is that as the man who “caused Israel to sin.”  Twenty-one times Jeroboam’s sin will be remembered as the point at which this nation was steered wrong and from which they never recovered.

Meanwhile, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, is not allowed to fight against Israel in an attempt at recovery of the tribes lost.  Also, an unnamed prophet foretells a future king who would destroy the altar erected by Jeroboam.  He even names that king, though the event prophesied would not take place for 300 years.

Devotional Thought:

Where You Put It

Some of our possessions are on prominent display in our home.  We have pictures, clocks, decorative pieces, and heirlooms hanging on the walls, setting on table tops, or otherwise out for all who visit to see and enjoy.

Many other of our things are kept in boxes, in cabinets and closets, and stored away in the attic.  “Out of sight, out of mind” is a saying that would apply.  It’s that stuff that becomes the fodder for garage sales.  These goods, by and large, just aren’t as important or valuable or meaningful.

Where we put stuff says a lot about what it means to us.

That idea is certainly involved in the prophet Ahijah’s message for Jeroboam. God said said of Jeroboam, “you have cast me behind your back” (1 Kings 14:9).  This is an all-too-familiar sentiment.

“Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back” (Ezek. 23:35)

“…and cast your law behind their back” (Neh. 9:26).

“…and you cast my words behind you” (Psa. 50:17).

Out of sight out of mind seems to apply here, too.

Jeroboam’s legacy is as the king who “made Israel to sin.”  There’s little question why.

April Week 4 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 4: The Kingdom Divides and the Ministry of Elijah

April 22-28

            In a response reminiscent of King Saul who tried to kill David because he knew he’d been selected as the next king instead of his own son, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam because the prophet Ahijah had said he would take most of the kingdom from his son (1 Kings 11:40).

With Solomon’s death Jeroboam returned from exile in Egypt and the groundwork was laid for the prophesied division of the kingdom.

The time of the divided kingdom is quite tumultuous.  It is precisely because of these spiritually precarious times that God begins to use prophets as never before.  It is at this time that the great prophet Elijah comes on the scene and in the midst of the stories of the various kings of these two kingdoms, Elijah plays a quite prominent role.

Through the Bible, April 21

Reading: No Scheduled Reading

Thoughts and Reflections: This is the catch up for the third week of April (15-21).  No readings are planned, but below are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

  1. The Bible makes no bones about the extent of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30). That is remarkable itself, but so is the fact that people were drawn to this man for his wisdom.  He was world-renown.  “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

People were drawn to, desired, and appreciated wisdom.  Who today is renown for their wisdom?  The fact is, we’re just not that interested in it.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16)

  1. The book of Proverbs is actually a collection of collections of Proverbs. Notice these verses:

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Prov. 1:1)

“The proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:1).

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” (Prov. 25:1).

“The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.” (Prov. 30:1)

“The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:” (Prov. 31:1).

  1. We sometimes think we know what God is up to; we’ve got figured out His actions and His deeds. Probably not.  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).

Devotional Thought:

I’m Not Alone

A woman still in the throes of grief in the weeks following her husband’s untimely death, commented on the value of a book on grieving she has been reading, “It let me know that I’m not going crazy.”

It is so good to know that we’re not alone, that we’re not isolated in our hurts and pains and sorrows, that the emotional turmoil and even confusion we feel is a shared experience.

This isn’t exclusive to grieving, but for any trouble we may face.  And that’s where one of the great values of the Psalms lies. So many of the Psalms allow the believer to know that their questions, uncertainty, anger, weariness, angst, or whatever, have been felt before and have been felt by others.  It is not a sign of failed faith or spiritual bankruptcy.

The misguided notion that in order for us to come to God and be received by Him we can only approach Him with all our “ducks in a row,” a high level of confidence and assurance, and an already sanitized and well ordered life is wrong.  It’s not emotionally or spiritually healthy.  The Psalms introduce to us people unsure and hurt and angry and searching.

The inscription of Psalm 102 says this well, “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

It matters not what I’m feeling or what I’m experiencing, it’s not new to God.  He’s heard it before and He’s seen it before.  It will help me to work through whatever it is, if He now hears it from me.

Through the Bible, April 20

Reading: Proverbs 10-12

Summary: We will continue today’s readings from the book of Proverbs, a collection of proverbs uttered primarily by Solomon.  Those found in the first nine chapters are longer.  Starting in chapter 10 they take a form that is more typical, that is two statements, the second contrasting or completing or somehow elaborating on the first.

The proverbs are in no particular arrangement, more or less just a continuous list.  Upon reading them, several themes do emerge and certain topics are frequently addressed.  For instance, many proverbs deal with our words, honesty and fairness, diligence and hard work, a good wife, friendships and associations, and so on.

The idea of a proverb is to provide instruction and advice that would help lead to living life wisely and well.

Again, today’s reading will be just a sampling of proverbs, all attributed to Solomon.

Devotional Thought:

Who Did You Wrong?

Don’t you hate it when someone does you wrong?  It’s irritating to say the least and without question it incites many negative emotions.  Think about the last time this happened to you and notice how easily and quickly those feelings can begin to well-up inside us.  Can you feel it? Anger, resentment, bitterness?  Be careful, though, and don’t allow those sentiments free reign; keep them in check—and I hope it’s not too late for that.

Now, I wonder what the person who did you wrong is feeling about that same incident?  Chances are, it’s nothing.  Even if what they did was intentional, the greatest likelihood is that they’ve moved on and haven’t thought of it again.   And if was accidental, it’s guaranteed their minds haven’t dwelt on it, even for the first time.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Prov. 10:12).

Likely, more than one application can be made from this Proverb, but consider this: the strife stirred up isn’t necessarily between the two parties among whom the offense occurred, but it’s within you yourself.

That rancor and irritation and animosity is eating away at your soul.  Notice this Proverb in no way denies the reality of the offense.  It is real.  But that’s not the issue.  It isn’t what is right or fair or just.  It isn’t about the real hurt they may have been inflicted; and not that those are without merit.  But, the issue is your response.  Is it hatred or love?

Whether it is discontent, animosity, and strife that rule your heart and mind or it is peace does not depend on what others do—which you cannot control—but your response to it, which you can control.

That choice is yours.

Through the Bible, April 19

Reading: Proverbs 1-4

Summary: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).  That wisdom manifested itself in, among other things, 3,000 proverbs uttered by Solomon (1 Kings 4:32).

The book of Proverbs is a collection of many of Solomon’s own proverbs, though it also includes some authored by others (see chapters 30-31).

Though it appears that the book is a hodge-podge collection of wise sayings, it’s theme is very concise:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;

fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

(Proverbs 9:10)

Today’s reading will be a sampling of some of the longer proverbs found in the first nine chapters.

Devotional Thought:

How Much Do You Want It?

An eager student approached the wise, old teacher claiming to desire knowledge.  “Please teach me!” he pled.

“You are not ready to learn,” came the surprising reply.

“Oh, but I am! I am ready!” the young student responded.

“Very well, then.  Meet me in the morning on the beach,” the instructor ordered.

The following morning, eager with anticipation the young man waited on the beach as the sun crept over the horizon.  After a brief wait the old man arrived.

“Follow me.”  No greeting; only this brief directive.  With that, out into the surf he marched.  Quite surprised but anxious, the young man followed.

They waded until the water came to their waste.  He stopped. Suddenly the old man lunged at the young, seized him by the back of the neck and plunged him into the sea.  And held him.  Shortly the young man began to struggle, then to flail.  He panicked and with every bit of strength fought the teacher’s grip.  Finally, after only moments that seemed eternal, he allowed the boy to rise.

A tremendous gasp filled his aching lungs.  “What are you doing?” he screamed.

Calmly came the reply, “Only when the intensity of your desire for knowledge matches that for air just now are you ready to learn.”

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:4-5).

How much do you want it?

Through the Bible, April 18

Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:11; 12

Summary: Old Testament books are arranged by types, not by chronology.  One of those types is sometimes called “Poetry”.  It includes the books from Job through Song of Solomon.  Maybe that title is appropriate since the largest book in this category, Psalms, is all poetic.  Others, though, are not at all.  Some people prefer to call this classification of books “Wisdom Literature”.  This descriptor is much more apt for Ecclesiastes.

In this book Solomon describes his effort to find meaning and purpose in life, through the pursuit of various goals; high achievement, wealth, pleasure, and so on.  Along the way he does gain some helpful insights, but the bottom line is, “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity.  What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecc. 1:2-3).  Finally, though, he provides his summation of it all in chapter 12.

Today, we will read a sampling of texts from this book.

Devotional Thought:

How Many Strands is Your Cord?

American culture is odd. I don’t mean to be critical, but what we as a people often admire and elevate is exactly wrong.

That’s true in many different ways, but think about this: how many of your heroes and legends are loners?  Go all the way back to characters like the Lone Ranger or the Clint Eastwood character in those “spaghetti” westerns or the tortured lonely superhero (think Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, etc., etc.).

We have elevated the notion of go-it-alone, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, leave-me-to-my-own-devices, to a fault.  And it really is a fault.  There is nothing wrong with being independent and self sufficient; but, that can go way too far.  We might end up handicapping ourselves unnecessarily from some of life’s greatest blessings: other people.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Have you left yourself with a cord of one strand?

Through the Bible, April 17

Reading: 1 Kings 9-11

Summary: It’s interesting that God appeared to Solomon a second time following the construction of the temple to encourage the king to faithfulness (1 Kings 9:1-9).  It almost serves as a precursor to his fall under the influence of his many foreign wives.  The description of this turn of events (1 Kings 11:4) should be read alongside Deuteronomy 17:17.  Warnings long preceded Solomon’s very regrettable course of action.

Also, a notable visit paid to Solomon by a foreign dignitary (1 Kings 10) is used by Jesus in his preaching to illustrate the kind of search and inquiry for wisdom and truth that condemns many religious persons then and now (Matt. 12:42).

Devotional Thought:

A Foolish Purveyor of Wisdom

I can remember my parents making the observation during the disciplinary process, “You know better than that!”

They were right.  And I’m not the only one for whom this phenomenon is true.

That has led to another observation: people sometimes know better than they do.  While ignorance is rarely ever a favorable condition, knowledge is not a sufficient antidote for wrong behavior.

Nowhere is this fact any more evident than in the case of Solomon, the wisest man in the world.

Solomon knew so much.  He knew that fearing God is the foundation of all wisdom and man’s purpose for existence (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ecc. 12:13).  He knew that a wife (not to mention 700 wives; 1 Kings 11:3) could pose a great challenge (see Prov. 19:13; 21:9, 19; 25:24).  He knew that life is filled with many pitfalls, hazards, and temptations that required much discernment, courage, and faith.

And, on top of all he knew, he also had been explicitly reminded of the rewards and blessings of faithfulness to God and the dire consequences of failing to do so (1 Kings 9:4-9).

Still, incredibly, Solomon forsook God (1 Kings 11:4-8).

Obviously, we may allow influences into our lives that supersede our knowledge, that surpass our devotion to God, and eclipse all warnings and encouragements.

To succeed where the wisest man failed does not require greater knowledge or understanding, it does not mean that we must be better informed, warned or encouraged than he. For all that Solomon knew, he did not do.

Really, it all comes down to doing what we already know; and that’s why Jesus put ultimate emphasis on actually doing His will (Matt. 7:21; Mark 3:35; Luke 6:46).

Through the Bible, April 16

Reading: 1 Kings 4-8

Summary: Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem is thought to have been one of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world.  It is described as “exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands” (1 Chron. 22:5). Not only that, but his prayer of dedication for the temple (1 Kings 8) is worthy of close thought and study and surely stands as one of the great prayers recorded in all of the Bible.

The attitude of the people of God toward this place of worship to God is reflected in the opening of Psalm 84:

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing your praise! Selah

(Psalm 84:1-4)

Devotional Thought:

Where Is God’s Name?

One of the interesting customs of our culture is for a woman, when she marries, to take the name of her husband, something significant is being communicated about this relationship by this gesture.  His name now dwells on her.

In biblical culture (and many European cultures to this day) an individual was identified by their father’s name.  For instance, Jesus referred to Peter once as “Simon Barjona” (Matt. 16: 17).  In that instance “Barjona” means “son of Jonah.”  That’s what distinguished this Simon from others.  He bore his father’s name.

Is there something of the same thing at work in the dedication of Solomon’s temple?  He said, “I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 8:20).  Notice how often this thought of a “house for the name” of God is repeated here (see vv. 16, 17, 18, 19).  It is also called “the place where you have promised to set your name” (2 Chron. 6:20).

Surely this ties in to what God said through Moses by way of warning as Israel prepared to first enter the promised land.  His people were to be very careful not to worship as the inhabitants of the land worshipped or in the places they worshipped.  Instead, they were to “seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name…the place the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there” (Deut. 12:5, 11; see also 12:21; 14:23-24; 16:2, 6,11; 26:2).

The people who would come to this place and worship God were ones who belonged to Him.  His name was placed there and was there; He, too, was also present and those who came to worship belonged to Him.  It was a matter of no small importance that God put His name in this place.

This, then, might also help our understanding when in Revelation it is said of the redeemed—referred to as the 144,000—that, among other things, they had “his name [Jesus’] and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).

We often think about our names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but we ought also to think of God’s name being written on us.

Through the Bible, April 15

Reading: 1 Kings 1-3

Summary: Often forgotten in Solomon’s story is the fact that he almost missed the monarchy. Thanks to intervention by the prophet Nathan and his own mother, the aged David cut short a challenge by one of Solomon’s half-brothers to the throne.

David provides advice and instruction for his son before he dies.  More of this is recorded in 1 Chronicles.  See the supplemental readings for April 29 and April 30 for a discussion of 1 & 2 Chronicles and some readings from these books related to the lives of David and Solomon.

Early on Solomon takes measures to secure his reign and to also secure his legacy.  In a remarkable occurrence, God offers to Solomon anything he wishes, to which the new king responds with his incredible request for wisdom to fulfill his role.  God was very pleased with Solomon’s request.

Devotional Thought:

God Has Always Wanted the Same Thing

God never changes. “For I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  Neither does His Son.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

That being true, how humanity relates and responds to God does not change either.  It never has and it never will.

I know, I know, some things have changed.  God has changed His mode of communicating with man (see Heb. 1:1-2).  He has changed the relationship as defined by His covenants.  There was an Old Covenant that served its purpose and was replaced—as God always intended—by a New Covenant (Heb. 8:6-13).

But fundamentally, at the core, what God expects of humanity has not changed at all.

Think about David’s explanation to Solomon of God’s expectations that his sons  were “to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul” (1 Kings 2:4).

Previously Samuel had challenged the people, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart” (1 Sam. 12:24) and prior to that Joshua charged Israel to “fear the Lord an serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness” (Josh. 24:14).

Are not all of these, in essence, the same as Jesus’ instruction for “true worshipers” to do so “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)?

So just as the commandments to love God and love your neighbor undergirded both the Law of Moses and the “perfect law of liberty,” so too does our approaching God in sincerity, with all of our heart and spirit, with absolute faithfulness and in truth.

Some things never change.