Archive for the ‘1 Kings’ Category

1 Kings 11

1 Kings 11 has Solomon going off the rails and into the weeds.  It is about women, and his inability to be obedient to God’s commandments regarding them.  “King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, You shall not enter into marriage with them”.  It is a pretty clear directive from God – don’t do it.  But Solomon had a weakness and he fell.

He didn’t just do it in a small way either.  “He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines”.  There is no way to comprehend having 1000 women in ones life.  But Solomon did.  “His wives turned away his heart….his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father”.  Solomon did the one thing God told him not to – “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  He didn’t follow God but took off following gods from foreign lands and people.  It was a very bad decision on his part.

Is there a price for sin, even for the wisest man in the world?  Yes, and how his wisdom didn’t kick in here and tell him he was going down a wrong path is troubling.  But it shows the power of temptation and how we as humans can lose our way even when we know better.  The outcome is bad – “the Lord was angry with Solomon”.  God has to deal with sin, and he tells Solomon the price for what he has done.  “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant”.

You may recall that Solomon had lived in relative peace and harmony for many years.  But now some adversaries are beginning to show up, and soon he has people that are preparing to take his kingdom.  “Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years”.  For the most part he had a great run, until he made bad choices and failed to keep God where He belonged, on the throne as the One True God.  Solomon dies and “Rehoboam his son reigned in his place”.  But the future doesn’t look nearly as bright because of the sin of the father Solomon.

1 Kings 10

1 Kings 10 has Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba.  She had heard of his wisdom, but wanted to come see for herself if he really was as wise as all the reports she had heard.  “When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions”.  She was there to see if he really had all the wisdom that was claimed.  “Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her”.  That’s a pretty impressive record – nothing stumped him.

Obiously that impressed the Queen and she gave him massive gifts and wanted to have a friendly relationship with Solomon and his kingdom.  “Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard”.  He passed the test and blew her away with his wisdom.  She also offered some observations about Solomon’s kingdom.  In business today, there is a lot of talk about employee engagement and the importance of having employees who are satisfied in the workplace.  The Queen reported: “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants”.  That’s about as good as it gets.  Solomon is a popular leader.

He continues to collect gold from kings and kingdoms around the area, and uses it to create shields and utensils used in the temple and his house.  He just keeps on accumulating riches from all over the place.  In fact, he began to have so much that “silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon”.  If it wasn’t gold, it really wasn’t all that important.  He amassed a fortune of precious metals, stones and spices and had more than he could possibly need.

But people just kept on coming.  “The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind”.  Can you imagine the demand on his time?  Everyone wanted to get his ear so they could pick his brain and understand what he knew.  They came from far and wide to have an audience with the wisest man on earth.  And as they did, he just kept on accumulating wealth and adding to his army.  Now he has “1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen” spread across his kingdom ready to do battle if anyone even thinks of picking a fight.  He is ready.

1 Kings 9

1 Kings 9 has Solomon being reminded by God of the promise that has been made.  “The Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon….said to him, I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time”.  Solomon has God’s ear.  And God now has a permanent place to reside in the temple that Solomon has built.

God then directs a reminder to Solomon.  “As for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever”.  That’s quite a promise.  If Solomon obeys and follows God’s commandments, statues and rules, he will have someone on the throne forever.  Unfortunately that didn’t happen and God is unable to keep this promise as a result.

And if Solomon or his descendants fail?  “This house will become a heap of ruins….because they abandoned the Lord….and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them”.  It’s not good.  An everlasting promise of sitting on the throne and leading God’s people is lost.  And that’s exactly what happens time and again as people forget God’s commandments and live their own way.  Sin has a way of getting in the middle of what is good and moving us to something that is not nearly what God had planned for our well-being.

The rest of the chapter talks about a little frustration between Hiram who did all the fine work for Solomon for 20 years, and Solomon.  It seems that Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities but they weren’t exactly what Hiram was hoping for and he was not pleased.  Solomon drafted a lot of folks to be forced labor and slaves in his kingdom.  He had hundreds of “the soldiers, officials, commanders, captains, chariot commanders and horsemen. These were the chief officers who were over Solomon’s work: 550 who had charge of the people who carried on the work”.  It took an army to manage the work in Solomon’s kingdom, but he had a plan and executed it.  Wisdom goes a long way to providing a framework for success!

1 Kings 8

1 Kings 8 has Solomon calling the people together to dedicate the temple.  “Then Solomon assembled the elders….to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David”.  He is finally bringing the ark to place it in the temple where it belongs.  And as part of the celebration, scripture tells us they were “sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered”.  We find out at the end of the chapter that “Solomon offered as peace offerings to the Lord 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep”.  I can’t imagine the scene of that many animals being sacrificed to the Lord.

Solomon reminds the people “I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel”.  He is where God has planned for him to be and he’s doing what God had planned for him to do.  So now he is blessing what has been built.  “Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day”.  He reminds the people of God’s promises which are coming true.

He moves into intercessor mode and asks God “If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin….and pray to you toward their land….then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you”.  Solomon knows the people will sin.  He has history to validate that plus the fact that he’s the wisest man to ever live.  Sin is unfortunately part of being human, so Solomon is asking God to go easy on His people when they pray and seek forgiveness.

Solomon was very visible and transparent and “as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice”.  Solomon made a statement to his people as he blessed them before God.  And he reminded them “Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments”.  Obedience brings blessing and Solomon wants his people focused on walking well with God.

1 Kings 7

1 Kings 7 has Solomon shifting focus from building the temple, to building his own house.  “Solomon was building his own house thirteen years”.  He spent seven years building God’s house, but now thirteen on his own. The temple was glorious, but it seems that Solomon wanted a house that was more glorious than the temple.  He primarily uses cedar from Lebanon as a key building material and his house gave the impression of being in a majestic forest.  We are left with the idea that as great as the temple was, the Solomon’s palace was better.

The house was much more than a simple place for Solomon to stay.  “His own house where he was to dwell, in the other court back of the hall, was of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken in marriage”.  This was a magnificent complex and one could argue that Solomon even overshadowed the temple he had built with his own house.  He hired “Hiram from Tyre….a worker in bronze….full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze”.  He was the best of his day and Solomon had him in charge of all the finishing.

Hiram did some amazing work in finishing things.  He cast two pillars of bronze. These impressive pillars were actually so noteworthy that they were given names. They were called Jachin and Boaz.  Some believe that the pillars were meant to remind Israel of the twin pillars from the Exodus. The pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day were constant reminders of the presence of God in the wilderness.  But whatever the reason they were built, they should cause us to be ever mindful of God’s grace in our lives and of our utter dependence on Him

Hiram created a lot of stuff.  “Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because there were so many of them”.  There was nothing lacking in the temple or Solomon’s house.  And finally, 13 years later, “all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord”.  God told David that he could not build the temple, but David still collected furnishings and treasures for the temple that his son Solomon would build.  Now it is all in its place and work on the temple and Solomon’s house are complete.

1 Kings 6

1 Kings 6 has Solomon beginning to build God’s house “in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel….began to build the house of the Lord”.  Things are under control and he has his leadership team in place, so now his focus can be on building the house that David had wanted to build but was never able to because of the constant war that engulfed his kingdom.  Solomon has likely been in the planning stages for some time prior to this, but now the construction can begin.  David had given Solomon some plans for the house back in 1 Chronicles 28.

The construction of this house is a huge job.  But Solomon didn’t want to disrupt everything.  “When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built”.  Much of the noisy and heavy work was done outside the area and the stones were rolled in and placed after being prepared at the quarry.  This was quite a feat, since they didn’t have heavy equipment at the time, only people power.

God reinforces His promise to Solomon.  “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel….Solomon built the house and finished it”.  God is pleased with Solomon’s work and restates the promise that He had earlier given to David.  Obedience brings God’s blessing.  And this house is part of that obedience.

We’re also told that Solomon didn’t skip any expense as he built the house.  “Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold….he overlaid the whole house with gold, until all the house was finished”.  There was gold placed everywhere, inside and out.  Solomon didn’t skimp on how God’s house was built.  The main part was large – 90 feet (30 meters) long, 30 feet (10 meters) wide, and 45 feet (15 meters) high – but certainly not huge.  But it was magnificent witwh all the attention to detail and the gold placed inside and out.  It took seven years to complete, so no small task.  But Solomon obeyed God’s command to build Him a house.

1 Kings 5

1 Kings 5 has Solomon ready to build the temple that David had never been able to do.  The rule of David was plagued by war, and he never had an opportunity to build.  But for Solomon, “the Lord my God has given me rest on every side”, he has been given peace.  And now it is time to build the house for God as was prophesied.  “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name”. God’s plan is being fulfilled by Solomon.

He wants specific lumber for the task so he asks Hiram, king of Tyre, to “command that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me”.  The right lumber, or desired lumber, was not available locally so Solomon asks a neighboring and friendly king for the resources he needs.  “Hiram supplied Solomon with all the timber of cedar and cypress that he desired”. They had an elaborate plan of cutting the timber and floating it down the river in rafts to the place Solomon needed it to build with.

In return, “Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 cors of wheat as food for his household, and 20,000 cors of beaten oil”.  This wasn’t a charity event.  Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year.  They had a great working relationship and Solomon used his wisdom to keep the peace and get the work done.  It was no small task they were undertaking.  It took a huge workforce.  “King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men”.  But the work wasn’t there at home, but in another country.  So they created a plan to make that more reasonable for the workers.

Solomon “sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in shifts”.  They didn’t all go at once. “They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home”.  This was a much better and more acceptable plan.  It didn’t require anyone to be gone more than one month in three.  But these 30,000 were only a small part of the total workforce on the building.  “Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief officers who were over the work, who had charge of the people who carried on the work”.  We saw the wall these people built.  The stones were enormous.  It’s no wonder there were so many working on the project.  One stone was over 200 ton.  It was amazing work and still stands today.

1 Kings 4

1 Kings 4 describes Solomon’s empire.  He was king over all Israel and had an elaborate leadership team in place to run the day to day activity in his kingdom:

  • Zadok was the priest
  • Elihoreph and Ahijah the sons of Shisha were secretaries
  • Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the army
  • Zadok and Abiathar were priests
  • Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers
  • Zabud the son of Nathan was priest and king’s friend
  • Ahishar was in charge of the palace
  • Adoniram the son of Abda was in charge of the forced labor

You could call this his cabinet – the men who were taking care of the overall activity of the kingdom.  Clear definition of duty and responsibilities and men who obviously were performing what needed to be done.

There were also a few other leaders at a more local level.  “Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household. Each man had to make provision for one month in the year”.  So in addition to the kingdom wide team we listed above, he has these local leaders who are in charge of bringing in the items needed to make the kingdom work – food and the like.  Above them was “one governor who was over the land”.  Solomon built a very efficient organization that was well designed and functional.  His wisdom was applied first to putting his own house in order.

But that wisdom served him and his kingdom well.  “Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life”.  He not only had a good strategy and team in place, the people liked him.  It wasn’t a small operation.  Scripture tells us “Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl”.  He had a lot of mouths to feed and when it was your month as one of the twelve local officers to provide for the kingdom, it was a very big job.  He had amassed a huge army that had to be cared for every day.  “Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen”.  This is a very big operation.

But even with all those requirements, the leadership functioned well.  “They let nothing be lacking”.  God blessed Solomon and answered his request in a powerful way.  “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….For he was wiser than all other men”.  How is that for an answer to prayer?  God kept His word.  He blessed Solomon with wisdom.  “He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005”.  Solomon was a very prolific writer and gave us a lot of the wisdom in scripture we read today.  But not only was his wisdom amazing, he also was well received during his life.  “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 3

1 Kings 3 has Solomon on the throne and seeking to walk with God.  “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father”.  What a powerful way to be described in scripture, as a man who loved the Lord and walked with Him.  That should be the desire and pursuit for each of us.  God comes to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he wants from God.  “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you”.  God has noticed his faithfulness and wants to reward him for that.

So Solomon has the opportunity to ask for whatever he wants.  And his request is simple.  “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people”.  God is pleased because Solomon doesn’t ask for selfish things that are focused on himself.  No ask for a long life, or lots of riches, or the life of his enemies.  Solomon asks God for wisdom and to have the ability to lead well.  That is a truly good think to seek – the ability to govern those in his care.

God is pleased and says “I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you”. Solomon has been granted the desire of his heart – to have the wisdom only God can give.  And he now is equipped to do what no other man ever had or ever will do – to lead with God’s wisdom.  But God goes further.  Because of Solomon’s lack of self centered request, God says “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.  And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days”.  A double bonus is granted to the king – God not only honors his request for wisdom but gives him all the other things that most would have asked for – riches and honor and long life.

Immediately the wisdom of Solomon is put to the test.  Two women each have a baby and one dies.  That mother steals the baby of the other and they have a dispute which comes before the king.  Both claim rights to the child which is alive.  After hearing their stories, the king decides the answer is to take a sword and cut the baby in half giving each their portion.  Of course, the real mother quickly gives up her right in order to save her baby.  The king knows immediately who the real mother is – the one who loved the child enough to give up claim in order to let hm live – and Solomon awards her the child.  “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 do justice”.  God’s wisdom is at work in Solomon and his people know that God is working in and through him.

1 Kings 2

1 Kings 2 has David on his deathbed.  He is giving his son Solomon his final instructions as he hands over the throne.  “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me”.  Pretty clear – obey God and do what He says.

David dies and immediately Solomon begins dealing with those who had not be loyal to his father.  He begins after his mom, Bathsheba, makes a request on behalf of Adonijah to take Abishag the Shunammite as his wife.  Remember that she was the one that was given to David to keep him warm during his dying days.  But Adonijah had tried a political move to take the throne, and now has the guts to ask Bathsheba for this lady to be his wife.  Solomon wasn’t so happy about the request, and in fact sends Benaiah to strike down Adonijah and put him to death.  One enemy gone.

Next on his radar was Abiathar the priest.  He too was not a favorite of Solomon, even though he had carried the Ark of the Covenant for David.  But Solomon wants him gone, but chooses to “expelled Abiathar” and send him away no longer having the role of priest.  He was part of the house of Eli and scripture had prophesied this day would come and it does.  Next in his sights was Joab, who was the leader of the army for many years.  He had supported Adonijah during his attempt to take the throne, and that wasn’t a good decision.

So Solomon again sends Benaiah to get rid of Joab.  He seems to be the closer for Solomon when it comes to removing people that have crossed the king.  Joab tries to hide in the temple but it doesn’t work and he gets whacked.  Benaiah takes his place as the leader of the army and made Zadok the priest in place of Abiathar.  There is one more guy that Solomon deals with – Shimei.  Solomon gave him clear instruction to stay put and not leave the city, but circumstances caused him to disobey and Solomon then reminds him of “all the harm that you did to David” and has his man Benaiah strike him down as well.  Solomon has the kingdom established in his hands as he removes those who were either against him or his father David.

%d bloggers like this: