Monday, May 14, 2007

They Ate, They Drank and They Were Happy

1Kings 1-6 transitions from the David Story to the Solomon Story. It is "R" rated material, full of carnage, violence, and invocations of God. It is a story rooted in a way of life three thousand years ago. It doesn't make all the deaths easier to stomach, but it should make us reconsider how we approach the material: keep it in its context. Though we have honest accounts of events, they are presented to give particular perspectives of how God is fulfilling his promises given to Abraham.

Take for example this text (4v20-21), which should remind you of God's conversations with Abraham in Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 22. "The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Gen22); they ate, they drank, and they were happy (Gen12v2). And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt (Gen13, 15). Note the odd designation of "Judah and Israel"; there has been no split yet, however Judah is the line of the kings, so the author is noting the equality of the peace and prosperity. But it has been bought at a bloody price. Which reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes, which refers to the desired life of eating, drinking, being merry; but it also recognizes the fleeting nature of these moments, as well as the cost to the soul of attaining it.

God's promise to Abraham: I bless you, I will make you a blessing, and all nations on earth will be blessed through you. The blessings constituted of numerous descendants, a prosperous and powerful nation, and shalom with God and neighbors. But Abraham had to send a son into exile, Isaac had to send a son into exile, Jacob had to escape from exile, Joseph was sent into exile, the nation of Israel had to escape from exile through Moses, the nation of Israel forgot the laws of God and did what was right in their own eyes, they rejected the rule of God and lusted after the trappings and prestige of a king, and they sought to become like the nations around them. King Saul was a mistake, according to God; David was a man of blood; and Solomon - even with all his wisdom - couldn't tame his lust for beautiful women, buildings, and horses.

God's people are still waiting for all the nations on earth to be blessed through them, at the time of this story of Solomon. And that is where Jesus comes into the story - for us. Jesus instructed us on how to be blessed (Matthew 5); he invited people to follow him, and thus make them a blessing; and through his death and resurrection, he has been blessing all nations on earth through his imperfect (think Abraham, Isaac, etc) people. Nothing wrong with eating, drinking, and being happy; just don't do it at the expense of another's life, dignity, or blood. But being blessed by God, becoming a God-blessing, and being a conduit for God's blessing upon the world is more than food and drink, it is joy and peace, righteousness and reconciliation, the restoration of a Creation groaning for redemption.

Solomon ruled, but not like Adam was instructed, and not like Jesus demonstrated. Oh that we would rule wisely, like Jesus.

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