“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 12: AUGUST 3
2 SAMUEL 18 – 1 KINGS 11:43
Today’s reading sees the waning of David and rise of several of his sons, the most prominent being Solomon. Like Moses gave “the talk” to his people as he was nearing his end, David also gave the same talk, slightly abridged, to Solomon just before his death. It’s a talk we should all hear every day as a reminder of our priorities.
- As I mentioned yesterday, despite his many blessings, David had a hard run of it in life. The tests and temptations never let up. When he was a kid, his brothers treated him badly; as he grew older and matured, he was hounded by Saul; after God had dealt with Saul and David became king, various heathen nations rose up and had to be destroyed; finally, after David had conquered most of those, his sons started in on him. The plague of his sons must have been the bitterest of all for David. Even so, he loved them and protected each of them to the end.
- Absalom was one of David’s sons. He is described in scripture as being the most beautiful man in Israel – not one of the most beautiful, but THE most beautiful. Eager to take his father’s place on the throne, Absalom rallied some troops and priests around him (beautiful people, whether male or female, can pretty much command others to do their will: beauty casts an immediate, deep, and lasting spell on those who are susceptible to it). David refused to have Absalom killed, even after Absalom himself killed another of David’s sons and stole the kingship out from under his father. David instead chose to flee and live in exile rather than to have Absalom executed.
- As God would have it, Absalom eventually hung himself on a tree in a freak riding accident. David mourned his beautiful but treacherous son so excessively that he had to be snapped out of it by one of his loyal ministers (Joab). After that, David again reigned as king of all Israel until Solomon took over at his death.
- Solomon is an interesting character. If you recall from an earlier reading, he was conceived on the same day that David and Bathsheba’s first child died. Solomon grew up surrounded by great wealth and privilege, but none of it seemed to matter much to him as a young man. What he wanted instead more than anything was to rule and judge wisely as king, so God granted him his wish.
- Along with wisdom (and precisely because he has asked for wisdom rather than long life and riches), God also gave Solomon excessive wealth and the directive to build his temple. God promised Solomon that he and his offspring would remain blessed as long as he kept his Commandments.
- Unfortunately, like his father and countless men before him all the way back to Adam, Solomon was beguiled by his heathen wives and strayed from God’s path. Wanting to please his wives, and likely for a few other reasons that don’t appear in the Bible, he started to build altars to their demon gods. Not a good thing to do if you want to stay on God’s good side. God gave Solomon time to repent of his sins, but when he didn’t do that, God informed him that his son would lose the kingship over Israel, retaining only one tribe for the sake of the promise God had made to David.
- You have to wonder how Solomon, whose wisdom is fabled to have exceeded anyone else’s at the time, could have lost the plot to such an extent that he began worshiping demons. Again, beauty casts a strong spell over most people, and his 700 wives and 300 concubines must have been a force to be reckoned with. Whatever happened, Solomon ended up going down the wrong path in old age, and he paid the price for it. Like I said earlier, it might have been a good idea for Solomon to review daily the talk his dying father gave him. We should all review that talk daily:
Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:1 KINGS 2:3
- Just a note on the temple to end this reflection. I pretty much skipped over most of the building specs, as they don’t interest me. The problem with temples (churches, cathedrals, etc.) is that people get so caught up in the beauty and majesty of the place, they tend to worship and defer to the building and all the stuff in it rather than the one it was built for (God). Jesus talks about this later in the Gospels. That’s the main reason why I don’t much care about the temple description. It just seems so over-the-top and suspiciously grandiose (like Solomon getting 666 talents of gold as his annual allotment as king; that’s an intriguing detail I hadn’t noticed before!).
- Whatever purpose this temple played in God’s economy, it didn’t prevent Solomon from straying down the wrong path, and it didn’t appear to have inspired his foreign wives to convert to their husband’s faith, either. In the end, it was just a big fancy building that ultimately got destroyed for the wickedness of Israel (as we’ll see in the coming readings).
- As for the chief architect (Hiram), he later became almost a godlike figure in the masonic orders and is still revered today by masons the world over. If you know anything about masons, you know that the entity they worship is not God, and that’s all you need to know about them to know that you should have nothing to do with them. So the lasting legacy of the first temple is that the builder became symbolic of a demon worshiping cult, and the person who footed the bill for its construction also fell prey to demon worship.
No wonder God later ditched buildings and switched to people to house his Spirit.
What do you think about today’s reading? What jumped out at you? What do you think happened to Solomon that he ended up straying from God, despite all his wisdom? Was it just the beauty and persuasion of his wives that beguiled him, or do you think something else was at play? Can one man have so much wealth and power and still stay loyal to God?
For a schedule of the remaining readings, click on the links below: