(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
I Kings 10:14-11:43
This is an interesting part of Scripture to write about. It begins with a discussion of the splendor and riches that God has blessed Israel with. It starts by saying that Solomon received 666 talents of gold yearly; besides the obvious discomfort brought about by that number, that translates into about 25 tons. God had raised Solomon and Israel up above all other kings and kingdoms in the world and we are told about how the other kingdoms paid their homage to him and Israel. It even says that silver was ascommon as stones. Israel was blessed because of David and his son Solomon and their willingness to do His will. This almost reminds me of one of the most common movie plot twists throughout the world: everything is going well…too well…so much so that everyone in the theatre is wondering what is about to happen. Well in this story Solomon’s lust and love for women happened.
Chapter 11 starts with the word HOWEVER in the first three words (NIV) and we all know that means that God is making a contrast. Solomon violated one of the first rules that was given to the Israelites before entering into the “Promised Land” and that was to not marry the native women. Solomon did just that…to the extreme…700 wives and 300 concubines worth of extreme. And what happens? It says “his wives led him astray.” He began making idols and altars to those idols and to the pagan gods that the author(s) of the I Kings calls “detestable” time after time. God is clearly making His point through the words on the page here. The word used for “detestable” is shiqquwts pronounced shik·küts’ even the sound of the word used implies disgust and it means abomination. We are provided with two diametrically opposed images between the end of Chapter 10 and through the beginning of Chapter 11; glory and riches and blessing beyond comprehension, and disgust or wrongdoing beyond comprehension.
After verse 13 in Chapter 11 it all begins to go downhill (again) for Solomon and the Israelites. We see God raising up adversaries against Solomon and tearing the kingdom of Israel apart. Solomon reigns for 40 years a broken kingdom and then dies.
I think it is interesting to see all of the adversaries God raised up against Israel during this time and compare it to the adversaries that surround Israel today. In Solomon’s day they didn’t follow the rule of God and in our day they don’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Even in Revelation we see the kingdoms of Israel reduced to a remnant (much like Israel under Solomon was reduced) whose final cry out to God begins the second coming.
But how does this affect us? How does this unfathomable story of receiving 25 tons of gold each year and having 700 wives and 300 concubines bring meaning to us today?
I am hesitant to espouse anything that would provide the impression that faith and trust in Jesus leads to reward in this world. I would hazard to say though that faith and trust in Jesus does lead to reward in this world in ways that the Lord deems are in accordance with His will. If we have faith and trust in Jesus as our savior and if we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit we are rewarded with a gift of some type to use for His will in His Kingdom. By using this gift we are rewarded with more faith and more trust and I believe more responsibility in His Kingdom. Eventually we will be rewarded beyond anything we can place into words when we enter into eternal life with Jesus in His Kingdom. But….and isn’t there always a but or a “however”, if we misuse the gifts that God has rewarded us with or if we choose to devote ourselves to other gods or idols (television, Facebook, candy-crush, work) we will find that we will suffer some of the same issues as Solomon. No, I do not believe we can lose our salvation and I am not saying that anything we do in this lifetime affects whether we receive salvation; I am confident that salvation is ours from the time we receive Jesus into our hearts and believe in Him. However (there it is again), I do believe that when we are able to receive that ultimate reward it will not be as abundant as it could have been if we had followed in the footsteps and callings of Jesus. This story serves as a reminder that we are here for a purpose and we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and do His will in all things. Then and only then will our heavenly reward be truly unfathomable.