The first eight chapters of the book of 1 Kings provides a bleak landscape for the devotional reader. It is a book that seems to appeal mainly to historians. As is often the case with relatively arid scenes, one must look a little closer. The Hebrews were living in a very primitive era. At that time there was a belief that the fertility of the king had a direct impact on the fertility of the nation. King David had become impotent, and, his kingship was in jeopardy.Read More
The oldest of David’s sons, Adonijah, decided to “exalt” himself (KJV) in light of his father’s frailty and proclaim himself king. He began by enlisting the support of several of the nation’s key leaders. Nathan, the prophet, heard about this and quickly plotted with Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to preempt the coup d’état. He told her to remind King David of a vow he had made to her that Solomon would be his successor to the throne.Read More covenant, promises
This chapter is grim reading. Looking at it through a 21st century lens, David’s instructions to Solomon about the treatment of his enemies seem ruthless and cruel. We wonder how the gentle poet of the Psalms can act in such a bloodthirsty manner. Our idealistic view of a pastoral artist is offended by the reality of life for an ancient king. But David was a king, with countless enemies threatening both him and his kingdom.Read More consequences, Saviour, décisions
Shakespeare, in “The Merchant of Venice” (Act 4 Scene 1), has Portia say, “Earthly power doth then show like God’s, when mercy seasons justice.” This echoes the scriptural account when the people marvelled at Solomon’s wisdom, “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to render justice.” (v 28 RSV).Read More mercy, justice, wisdom
The pivotal point in the narrative, however, is Solomon’s decision to build a house for God’s “Name.” This seems a bit strange for the contemporary reader, but for a Jewish person it makes sense. Why? Because “The Name” (Hebrew:” Ha Shem”) embodies the very presence of the Almighty. Solomon says later as he dedicates the temple that God cannot be confined to any one place, but it is fitting and proper to build a house for and in the “Name” of God.Read More presence, Jérusalem, name
Chapter 6 tells the story of the completion of the building of God’s house. It took four years to build the foundation and three for the superstructure. It was magnificently finished in gold leaf and cedar. A masterpiece. And then we read the first verse of chapter seven, where, to our surprise we’re told it took Solomon THIRTEEN years to build his own house! What, as they say, is up with that?
Maybe nothing other than being human is up with that.Read More self-centredness, lukewarmness, spiritual growth
We’ve just read in chapter 6 how Solomon spared no expense in building a house for “The Name.” Now we see no expense spared in building a house for himself. “Costly stones” seems to be the theme of the construction. A huge thirteen year project costing in the tens of millions of today’s dollars. But there is a life lesson here we shouldn’t miss.
Solomon strove for excellence, both for God and himself.Read More value, expense
After twenty years of building, Solomon adds the “coup de grace,” the exclamation point, to his masterpiece. With great ceremony and sacrificial ritual, he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the temple, placing it in the “Holy of Holies.” At this moment something astonishing happens.
A cloud of luminous haze suddenly fills the house as the priests leave the “Holy of Holies.Read More holiness, glory, God’s presence
After twenty years of continuous, arduous construction, Solomon dedicates the temple he has built for “The Name.” With pomp, circumstance, and thousands of blood sacrifices, he lifts his hands toward heaven in the midst of his people and prays a powerful prayer. Most powerful of all is what he says in the last few words of verse 27.
A literal reading in the Hebrew language says, “Behold the heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot contain you.”Read More God’s presence, name, greatness