Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Last time I mentioned several questions I was struggling with and talked about David’s position of honor in God’s eyes. I also mentioned that I have a problem with liking Solomon. I don’t like him. I always feel guilty about that, but I think there is quite a bit of evidence that God did not like him either, eventually. So today I wish to discuss this topic in the understanding that I am only sharing what I am thinking, not trying to change your mind about anything; except things in our own lives that depict how we really feel about our God and show others who we think He is.
Therefore I have taken some extra time to study the issues I have by digging into study notes on Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as some outside study sources and I found a few things that help me understand my own reaction to Solomon.
The first and possibly most important is about how Solomon can be considered such a wise man, when he made so many unwise choices. The study notes indicate that the chronicler (who wrote the Chronicles) tied the wisdom sought and given directly to the building of the temple. David had requested that God give his son Solomon “the whole hearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure (temple) for which I have provided.” Then Solomon answered God’s inquiry as to what he needed and wanted from God with the request to be given “wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people…”
In Kings, the first thing Solomon does is marry the Egyptian Princess; this was a sin, for all leaders of God’s people were forbidden to marry foreigners. Not a wise choice and the roots of his later failure to worship only the one true God. But meanwhile God was with Solomon, giving him the guidance he needed to build the temple to exactly what God wanted it to be.
This reminds me of David and the fact that he was “a man after God’s own heart”, even though He had sinned greatly. He and Solomon both refused to worship any other gods. This was wise. Sources I have read also relate that Solomon “did right in his youth (say, the first 20 years…) and then did evil in his old age. This is not surprising in that he married at least 700 wives and had 300 concubines, all of whom were foreigners in the land and who worshiped other gods. The evil of his later life was that he followed his women into worshiping false gods. He also, apparently, made the northern tribes something like slaves with all the taxes he put upon them to support the Kingdom of Judah and him.
Meanwhile he had followed another of David’s failures in that he did not raise up his sons in the way they should go and they did not go that way. I feel that much of the other three books attributed to Solomon show us that very thing: He tries to show the error of his ways through advice that comes too late. (This is a very personal interpretation, so don’t use it as fact.)
Anyway, my own personal reaction to Solomon is that he was a womanizer. There was a womanizer in my life and I cannot get memories of that out of my mind when I read about Solomon and all his women. Can you even begin to imagine what life was like for those women who fell in love with him (or not) and then were tossed aside as he found new wife after new wife, 1000 times? I am quite overwhelmed by the horrible lust that brought this about. This is not the action of a wise man. But God gave him wisdom and he chose to ignore it in his personal life. Personally, I have done that and still do. That is not a good thing.
This whole story reminds me of a man who was teaching marital counseling and said that when he was asked to counsel anyone thinking of dating or marrying a non-believer he would always ask them to ask themselves this important question: “Is this person drawing me closer to God or further away from Him?” Perhaps considering this question would have helped the wise Solomon to make better choices in life. Perhaps considering that question would help us to make better decisions ourselves, whether about people or activities. All too often we come up with “but” I could be useful to God in this situation. That is wrong. God does not want to use us in situations that are dangerous for us: thus the commandments and laws to keep ourselves clean, and the directions to the Israelites to clean out the country as they moved in, getting rid of the influence of those who worship other gods. And, thus, His directions to us to not be unequally yoked together, whether in life ties or favorite activities.
And, FYI, today is laundry day for me and I do not actually sort my laundry. It all gets put in one load because I am cheap and I do not want to spend the extra money for two loads unless I have some extra household things to wash. Thus, certain items in my laundry come out gray after a few washes. There is a lesson there somewhere. :)
Thanks for listening and I pray that we will all be more aware of the influence our activities and other people have on us so that we may wisely guard ourselves against the corruption of false gods in our own lives. Have a great day.
Monday, June 18, 2012
After a couple of weeks of distraction, I find myself bursting with questions that need to be answered. But, first, you may need to know that I have started studying Kings for the summer. As we left our Ladies study in James, we were directed to Ezekiel and his prophecies. That got me started on this trip through the Kings. I started after Solomon with the split of the kingdom. Q1: Why did I do that? A1: I don’t like Solomon. Q1a Why don’t I like Solomon? I will talk about that at a later time because I found that skipping to Jeroboam left me with too many unanswered Qs, like, Q3 “Did God forget that David sinned?” and Q4 “Why is Jeroboam back and from where did he return?” So I gave up and started at the beginning, as is only right. :)
Now I find that having a study Bible to help answer some of my questions is a real blessing. I have possibly found a satisfying answer to Q4 which I will discuss in a minute. Meanwhile, here are the challenges I face at this time:
Why is David still the icon of obedience, the pillar of faith, even though he sinned greatly? What are the geologic consequences of the Genesis Flood? Why can’t I find a mango colored blouse in my size? What does “without form and void” mean; covered in water or dry like Mars? Why do I love to laugh out loud at silly things, including Ellen De G, silly pictures and AFV? LOL. Why did the “old prophet” lie to “the man of God, then have the man’s body buried in his own tomb? And “Why did Jeroboam have his wife disguise herself before going to see the prophet Ahijah when Ahijah was blind? Well, I have a lot of thinking to do, and I will try to share some of it with you this summer. But for now let’s see about David’s sin, with the help of my “study” notes.
When I first read I Kings 14:8-9, I found myself really puzzled. I knew and know that David was (and is) forever a “man after God’s own heart” and the example to follow (before Christ) in matters of obedience. But the wording confused me: “…you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands, and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.” What? How can this be said when we all know that David made several very bad decisions over his lifetime? Did God forget about his bad decisions? I immediately answered “No” to that, remembering that God cannot forget. But He can and does choose “not to remember” those sins we have confessed and asked Him to forgive. This is shown in chapter 15, verse 5, where it says, “for David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah, the Hittite.” So… there is not a desire to hide David’s sin from us, nor is there an attempt to pretend it didn’t happen. God has chosen not to remember and thereby not hold these against him, but He wants us to remember and learn from all of David’s life, not just the good parts. “Hence,” we must pay attention to what was really going on in the lives of those who did and did not follow in David’s footsteps. And that brings me back to James and his reference to the “double-dminded man.”
It seems that the double-minded man refers to a man who cannot make up his mind to follow God, even though he has been given proper guidance through God’s word and an example to follow in David (and in Christ, and the apostles, later on.) In the books of Kings, we find that most of them followed the example and teaching of Jeroboam, rather than David. Perhaps one of the circumstances where David failed God was an impetus toward this behavior: David failed to discipline his sons. Even Rehoboam, whom God appointed successor to David, failed to follow David’s single-mindedness.
You see, the true test of David was his single-minded loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He never even considered straying from worshiping his God, the one true God, let alone did he ever worship any other God. He sought refuge with an enemy of God when his own enemies were hot on his trail; He stayed home when he should have gone out to lead his army and ended up committing adultery and murder; and he failed to pay attention to training up his sons in the way they should go. But none of this compared to breaking the First, and foremost, commandment: “Thou shalt not worship any other god before me…!” Even as we look back at the failure of the Israelites to commit to going into the Promised Land, we find that it was the worship of their own eyes and imaginations that determined their downfall. God will not have it. God will deal with it.
And Jeroboam, as the appointed king of the northern tribes, set out to do exactly that: He set up an entire system of worship which left Almighty God on the sidelines and magnified the presence of false gods and set himself up as the priest of that religion. As King passed to King in the northern tribes (Israel), they are repeatedly marked as choosing to follow in the sins of Jeroboam. That is described this way: He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in his sin, which he (Jeroboam) had caused Israel to commit.
For us it seems to come down to this: Who do I allow to influence my way, and who do I encourage others to follow by my way? Do I allow the things of today to influence my choices to the point that I sacrifice others opportunities to follow the one true God and Him only?
God, give us the sensitivity to realize that our choices are of extreme importance, not just in our own lives, but in the lives of all who look to us for example and guidance. May we be alert to glorifying you with our daily lives and choices. We are weak, but You are strong. Amen.