May 2, 2016

I Kings 9-11
After Solomon had completed building The Temple of God and his own palace, all the projects he had set his heart on doing, God appeared to Solomon again, just as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.   

And God said to him, “I’ve listened to and received all your prayers, your ever-so-passionate prayers. I’ve sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel, make it a sure thing on a solid foundation. The same guarantee I gave David your father I’m giving you: ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne. 

“But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, then the guarantee is off: I’ll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I’ve just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will become nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world.... 

At the end of twenty years, having built the two buildings, The Temple of God and his personal palace, Solomon rewarded Hiram king of Tyre with a gift of twenty villages in the district of Galilee.... Hiram had provided him with all the cedar and cypress and gold that he had wanted. But when Hiram left Tyre to look over the villages that Solomon had given him, he didn’t like what he saw....

Pharaoh king of Egypt had come up and captured Gezer, torched it, and killed all the Canaanites who lived there. He gave it as a wedding present to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. So Solomon rebuilt Gezer.

Three times a year Solomon worshiped at the Altar of God,... Everything that had to do with The Temple he did generously and well; he didn’t skimp.

The queen of Sheba heard about Solomon and his connection with the Name of God. She came to put his reputation to the test by asking tough questions. She made a grand and showy entrance into Jerusalem...She came to Solomon and talked about all the things that she cared about, emptying her heart to him. Solomon answered everything she put to him—nothing stumped him. When the queen of Sheba experienced for herself Solomon’s wisdom and saw with her own eyes...  it took her breath away.

6-9 She said to the king, “... Such wisdom and elegance—far more than I could ever have imagined... Clearly, God’s love for Israel is behind this, making you king to keep a just order and nurture a God-pleasing people.”
10 She then gave the king four and a half tons of gold, and also sack after sack of spices and expensive gems. There hasn’t been a cargo of spices like that since that shipload the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon....

King Solomon for his part gave the queen of Sheba all her heart’s desire—everything she asked for, on top of what he had already so generously given her. Satisfied, she returned home with her train of servants....

14-15 Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold in tribute annually. This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and assorted kings and governors.... King Solomon was wiser and richer than all the kings of the earth—he surpassed them all. People came from all over the world to be with Solomon and drink in the wisdom God had given him. And everyone who came brought gifts—...

King Solomon was obsessed with women. Pharaoh’s daughter was only the first of the many foreign women he loved—Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite. He took them from the surrounding pagan nations of which God had clearly warned Israel, “You must not marry them; they’ll seduce you into infatuations with their gods.” Solomon fell in love with them anyway, refusing to give them up. He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines—a thousand women in all! And they did seduce him away from God..... 

Solomon openly defied God; he did not follow in his father David’s footsteps.. God was furious with Solomon for abandoning the God of Israel, the God who had twice appeared to him and had so clearly commanded him not to fool around with other gods. Solomon faithlessly disobeyed God’s orders.

God said to Solomon, “Since this is the way it is with you, that you have no intention of keeping faith with me and doing what I have commanded, I’m going to rip the kingdom from you and hand it over to someone else. But out of respect for your father David I won’t do it in your lifetime. It’s your son who will pay—I’ll rip it right out of his grasp. Even then I won’t take it all; I’ll leave him one tribe in honor of my servant David and out of respect for my chosen city Jerusalem.”

God incited Hadad, a descendant of the king of Edom, into hostile actions against Solomon. Years earlier,... Joab, commander of the army,...massacred all the men of Edom....Hadad, just a boy at the time, had escaped with some of the Edomites... and went on to Egypt and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house, food, and even land. Pharaoh liked him so well that he gave him the sister of his wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. She bore Hadad a son named Genubath who was raised like one of the royal family. Genubath grew up in the palace with Pharaoh’s children....

Then God incited another adversary against Solomon, Rezon... After David’s slaughter of the Arameans, Rezon collected a band of outlaws and became their leader. They later settled in Damascus, where Rezon eventually took over as king. Like Hadad, Rezon was a thorn in Israel’s side all of Solomon’s life... 

And then, the last straw: Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was an Ephraimite...his mother a widow named Zeruah. He served in Solomon’s administration.  This is why he rebelled. Solomon had built the outer defense system...  Jeroboam stood out during the construction as strong and able. When Solomon observed what a good worker he was, he put the young man in charge of the entire workforce of the tribe of Joseph.  

One day Jeroboam was walking down the road out of Jerusalem. Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh, wearing a brand-new cloak, met him.... Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten of these pieces for yourself; this is by order of the God of Israel: See what I’m doing—I’m ripping the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands and giving you ten of the tribes.... “Still, I won’t take the whole kingdom away from him. I’ll stick with him through his lifetime because of my servant David whom I chose and who did follow my directions and obey my orders.... 

“But I have taken you in hand. Rule to your heart’s content! You are to be the king of Israel. If you listen to what I tell you and live the way I show you and do what pleases me, following directions and obeying orders as my servant David did, I’ll stick with you no matter what. I’ll build you a kingdom as solid as the one I built for David. Israel will be yours! I am bringing pain and trouble on David’s descendants, but the trials won’t last forever.”

Solomon ordered the assassination of Jeroboam, but he got away to Egypt and found asylum... He remained in exile there until Solomon died....Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years... His son Rehoboam was the next king.

II Corinthians 3 - 

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.  Christ himself wrote it--not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives --and we publish it...

God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone.  And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete.  We are free of it!  All of us!