Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Prudent Ruler Honors God with His Heart, Mind, and Actions

Scholar's reconstruction of King Solomon's Temple

As we have seen, God granted Solomon’s prayer for wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32), also blessing him with wealth and power (1 Chronicles 29:25). He was therefore divinely gifted to take on the mission God intended for him – to rule His people, to judge them fairly (1 Kings 3:16-28), and to build His temple. Solomon’s father, King David, proclaimed to his princes, captains and stewards, in the presence of his officers, mighty men, and valiant men, that Solomon would oversee the construction of God’s house (1 Chronicles 28:1)

David’s desire, intention, and preparation had been to build “an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God” (v. 2). But God would not allow him to do it, for David had been a warrior and had shed blood, whereas Solomon would rule in peace (1 Chronicles 22:9), making him better suited for this honor (1 Chronicles 28:3).

Just as God had chosen David to be king over Israel, selecting him from the house of Judah, from the house of his father; and from his many brothers, he chose Solomon from all David’s sons to be David’s successor, to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel, and to build God’s house and courts (v. 4-6).

God had told David of this plan for Solomon, whom He had chosen to be His son, to whom He would be Father, and for whom He would establish his kingdom forever, if he continued to obey God (v. 7). This was a conditional promise, as David explained to Solomon in the presence of all Israel, the Lord’s congregation, and before the audience of God Himself (v. 8).

When a follower of God embarks on His divine mission, doing so before the church body ensures accountability, guidance, and support (Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:25). David was passing the torch to his son Solomon as ruler over Israel, patriarch over the family (1 Chronicles 29:25), and as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). It is therefore fitting that he did so in the assembly of his royal court, his sons, and Almighty God (1 Chronicles 28:1,8).

Usually God communicates with believers through His recorded Word (Psalm 119); sometimes God speaks to us directly (1 Kings 19:12), as He did in this case to David; and often He sends us a message via Godly counsel (Psalm 37:30), just as He revealed His plan for Solomon through his father. David announced God’s desire that Solomon would keep and seek for all His commandments, know the God of his father David, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind (1 Chronicles 28:8-9).

It is interesting that God referred to Himself very specifically as “the God of thy father.” In His complete foreknowledge, He knew that Solomon would be drawn away by his pagan wives to follow false gods (1 Kings 11), for He searches all hearts, and understands all our thoughts and imaginings. But if Solomon sought after the One True God, he would find Him, possess the good land of Israel, and leave it to his children as a perpetual inheritance. Conversely, if Solomon forsook God, He would cast him off forever (1 Chronicles 28: 8-9).

Because God had chosen Solomon to build His house, David urged him to take heed, be strong, and do it. He gave him floor plans for the temple porch, houses, and treasuries, with details for the upper chambers, the inner parlors, and the place of the mercy seat. All these were inspired by the Spirit, Who gave the design for the courts, surrounding chambers, and treasuries of the house of God, He also provided plans for the courses of the priests and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the Lord (v. 10-13).

Here we see the Trinity represented by the Holy Spirit, with the other two Members symbolized by King David as the Father and Solomon as His Son. Solomon was chosen by God to build His temple, where His glory would dwell with men (2 Chronicles 5:14).

This foreshadows the plan of salvation, foreordained by the Trinity before the beginning of time, by which sinful man can be saved and have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). God the Father would send Jesus Christ the Son, robed in human flesh (John 1:14), to be God dwelling with us (Emmanuel; Matthew 1:23), the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins, and the Lamb of God (John 1:29) reconciling us to Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Ephesians 2:16). The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus Christ to obey the will of His Father, endure the suffering on the cross, and rise again from the dead.

David not only provided Solomon with the temple plans he had received from God, and the Godly counsel to complete the task, but also material wealth of gold and silver for the temple instruments, furnishings, and altar (1 Chronicles 28: 8-18). “All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern” (v. 19).

Clearly this was not merely a passing thought that entered David’s mind, perhaps of his own imagination, but a detailed missive from God Himself, engraved onto his very being. When instructions from the Holy Spirit are that clear, thorough, and detailed, we ignore them at our own peril (John 10:27). David recognized their origin and responded appropriately because he was in the habit of communing with God and listening to His voice. No wonder that God chose David to author so many Psalms!

Again David emphasized to Solomon that he must be strong, fearless, and do what God had commanded, for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:20).

God would empower Solomon in this project not only by His own guidance and David’s treasure, but by the rich human resources of all the people of Israel. The religious leaders, artisans, and even the princes would be at Solomon’s beck and call, doing whatever he commanded to complete this great work (v. 21).

Praise God that when He calls us to His service, He provides all we need to fulfill His mission: funding, manpower, and prayer support through fellow believers! May we be strong through the power of His might; courageous, knowing that the victory is His, and just do it!

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Just Ruler Has Wisdom, Empathy, and Discernment

As we saw last week, King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32) epitomized the wise ruler who serves his family, people, and Lord. In addition to being king, and overseer of the Lord’s house who built His temple, Solomon also had to be judge over his people, deciding various disputes.

Scripture shows us one of his just decisions (1 Kings 3:16-28), demonstrating his wisdom, empathy, and discernment. Wisdom indicates not only book knowledge, but an emotional response to that knowledge leading to proper action.  There are three characters in the courtroom scene described: Solomon as judge, a harlot as plaintiff, and a second harlot as defendant.

The first harlot to plead her case says that she lives in the same house with the second harlot, that she recently gave birth to a son, and that the second harlot also gave birth to a son three days later. She accuses the second woman of rolling over on top of her newborn so that the infant died, taking the plaintiff’s live infant, and placing her own dead baby in the plaintiff’s arms while she was asleep. 

Essentially, she claims the defendant is guilty of negligence, kidnapping, and deception. She says she realized what had happened when she tried to nurse the child, found that he was dead, and did not recognize him as the son she had delivered.  But the defendant not only denies these charges, but says that the reverse is true, implying that the first woman is the one who is guilty of these three crimes.

The first harlot says that the living child is her son; the second harlot argues that the living child is instead her son; and Solomon summarizes the case by repeating that they each claim to be the mother of the surviving infant. What is Solomon to do with this classic case of “she said, she said?”

Knowledge of the facts is of limited help in this case, for there were no witnesses, no evidence (presumably the women were not of different race or distinguishing features that would indicate one to be the biological mother of the living child, and this was way before the days of DNA testing!), and contradictory testimony. Instead, Solomon must rely on discernment, accurately judging the character, veracity, and motivation of each woman. To do this, he must use empathy, placing himself in the sandals of the true mother, and how she would react to protect her child.

So he performs an acid test, seemingly resorting to extreme measures. He commands that a sword be given him and threatens to cut the child in two, to give half to each woman. In so doing he discerned the true motivation of each woman, for the biological mother would not allow her child to be harmed, for his welfare was far more important than her desire to raise him. But the other woman, motivated by grief for her dead son, envy of the woman whose child survived, and bitterness against the whole situation, was willing to have the child slain rather than let the true mother have him.

The true mother, whose emotions yearned to save her son, begged Solomon not to kill the infant, but to give him to the lying woman. In contrast, the liar said “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.” (v. 26). Solomon rightfully discerned that the woman who begged to save the child’s life was his true mother, commanded that the child not be harmed, and ordered that she be given the living child.

Interestingly, Scripture does not reveal whether it was the plaintiff or the defendant who was the true mother, perhaps because how or if we go about seeking conflict resolution is less important than the truth of the situation and our heart regarding it. In response to Solomon’s wise decision, Israel spread the news throughout the nation, realized that God had granted him true wisdom, and feared his judgment.

Solomon is therefore not only a wise ruler, but a just judge, and as we see in other chapters, the architect of God’s house. In some ways this foreshadows Jesus Christ’s multiple roles as King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16) and Righteous Judge (Psalm 9:8; 58:11; 67:4;) in His second coming, and Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) Who sits at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69).

As Solomon built God’s temple according to His instructions (1 Kings 5), even now Jesus is designing mansions in His Father’s house (John 14:2) for each of His children! Unlike Solomon, however, who was subject to the curse of sin common to every man since Adam’s fall (Genesis 3:17-19), Jesus is without sin, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent!

Praise God that all who have trusted in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) need not fear His second coming as King and Judge, for the Priest is also the Perfect Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:9-14) Who has reconciled sinful man (2 Corinthians 5:18) and Holy God! In the meantime, may we be blessed with His wisdom, knowledge and understanding! (Proverbs 2:6; 9:10; Isaiah 11:2)

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop