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“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 15: AUGUST 6
1 CHRONICLES 11 – 2 CHRONICLES 12:16
As we dig deeper into the Old Testament, we can see that the material starts to repeat, though it’s presented from a different perspective and with different aspects highlighted. The same process occurs in the New Testament with the four Gospels. The purpose in repeating the material isn’t to bore the reader or to give a sense of déjà vu, but to affirm and expand on what has already been relayed by other writers. As I’ve mentioned previously, the repetition with slight (or sometimes major) changes is also a very effective teaching tool.
- Today’s reading brings us again the story of David and his son Solomon, though with entirely different details than the earlier telling. The stress here is on the building and furnishing of the temple rather than the military victories of David or the private lives of the two kings. I personally found it kind of dry, and if it were presented alone without the accompaniment of the earlier story, David would lose a good deal of his appeal on a human level and would also lose the moral lessons that his life teaches us. I’m guessing that historians and maybe also theologians appreciate the details provided here about the temple, but for me it’s flyover country. Same with the lineages and who did what in whose service. God knows my heart and he knows I mean no disrespect in saying this, but who begat who, and how many and what kind of animals were sacrificed is not information that I can do anything with. Even so, whoever’s involved in the building of the third temple and setting up the beast system is, I’m sure, poring over every word.
- What jumped out at me in particular today is how many times the eternal kingdom of David’s lineage is mentioned. I love reading in the OT about Jesus and his Kingdom! Whenever I come across a passage that references the Kingdom, I get a little jolt of recognition, like you get when you’re driving somewhere you’ve never been before and all the place names are unfamiliar and then suddenly you see one that’s familiar. It waves to you. The first time Bethlehem is mentioned in the OT, it waved to me, as did Jerusalem, Damascus, Gaza, Hebron, etc. I know these places because they’re still functioning cities today. But when Jesus is referenced through the prophesy of the kingdom that will have no end, I’m pretty much doing a stadium wave and kicking like John the Baptist in the womb.
- I get excited because I know that place, that eternal kingdom that’s prophesied in the OT. I know it because I live in it. It’s my spiritual hometown. If you’re born-again, it’s your spiritual hometown, too. And I know that eternal King that keeps getting mentioned, because he’s not only my Messiah and Lord and savior, he’s also my big brother and best friend. This is how the OT talks to me, not as a dry chronicle of names and building materials, but of promises made and kept by a living God who is as ever-present with us today as he was thousands of years ago. That living God is my father, and he’s right here right now as I write these words and you read them. Jesus is here, too, because wherever two are gathered in his name, there he is among them.
What jumped out at you in today’s reading? Do you, like me, fly over the lineage and building details, or do you actually read them? The beauty of scripture is that different things will appeal to different people at different times and for different reasons.
A few years back, I took a short bus trip out to the countryside just before Christmas. The bus was nearly empty, so I sat behind the driver and starting chatting with him. As it turned out, he was a big fan of the Bible, and we had a fascinating discussion that lasted nearly the entire two hours of the trip. When I was gathering my things together to disembark, the driver said to me quite matter-of-factly “I’m not a Christian, you know. I just like reading the Bible.” Like I said, God’s Word appeals to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. I’m praying that the driver, if he someday humbles himself and converts, will be a great teacher of God’s Word, as he knows it so intimately, like Paul knew it before his conversion.
The PDF of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH schedule is directly below.
“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: