Wednesday, June 13, 2012

my notes on The Story, chapter 13 (I Kings 3-11)

The Life & Times of King Solomon (I Kings 3-11)

Intro to I and II Kings
-like I & II Samuel/Chronicles, originally one book
-separated by translators of the Septuagint
-Septuagint and Latin Vulgate also paired Kings with Samuel as four "Books of Kingdoms/Kings"
--> together, cover span of Israelite monarchy-- from Samuel/Saul to Judah's exile in Babylon
-Kings vs. Chronicles: similar material/focus, but
-latter emphasizes Judah and the priests
-Judean monarchs come off looking bad in the former and good in the latter
-author: unknown; traditionally Jeremiah, but modern scholars now disagree: prob. based on writings of many prophets, but one author/editor given consistent style/substance (Ezra, Ezekiel?)
-date: completed during last half of Babylonian exile (560-538), given Jehoiachin's release from prison at end of II Kings
-written to audience in exile-- encourage repentance, hope
-theme: limited historical account/assessment of kings largely based on God's covenant vs. military/social/economic
-most attention/space given to those who deviated substantially from the covenantal norm
-focus on lessons of history vs. history per se, incl. obedience/blessings pattern (revisited)

Intro to Solomon
-Solomon's story unusual in OT as more historical than narrative
-less application than normal, but sets the table for Eccl.
-ruled for 40 years (971-931 BC) after his father, David
-mother: Bathsheba
-chs. 1-2 on David's last days and Solomon's tough road to kingship

3:1-5's intro
-1a for Solomon's "alliance w/ Pharoah" and "married his daughter"
-marriage of these types to promote peace and trade
-an interesting opening to Solomon's kingship (post-ascension)
-both allude to future compromises/struggles with wealth/wives (11:1-6, Dt 17:17; w/ app.)
-but this particular wife was probably not a stumbling block since Egyptian gods were not listed among those worshipped

-the most significant of his wives (mentioned often, incl. 7:8b's separate palace; 9:16b's dowry-- the town of Gezer, a strategically located city near two trade routes)
-1b's implicit list of accomplishments, incl. palace, temple, and the wall around Jerusalem
-2's people "still sacrificing at the high places because a temple had not yet been built"
-3's sum of Solomon's walk w/ God: "showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places"
-4's "went to Gibeon" (Josh 9:3-27; "the most important high place") "to offer sacrifices"—"1,000 burnt offerings"
-MH's Solomon was "very free and generous in what he did for the honor of God...Those that truly love God and his worship will not grudge the expense of their religion." (w/ app.)
-in fact, in all facets of life-- living large!
--> 5's "the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream" and asked what Solomon wanted God to give him (Jn 16:23)
-that night-- cause-and-effect

3:6-9's response (in the dream)
-6a's opening: acknowledgement of God's "kindness" in David's life
-7b's humility of the man/king: "I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties"
-"little child"-- fig. &/or lit.? Solomon was about 20 years old when he assumed the throne (I Chron 22:5, 29:1)
-humility cont'd: 6,7,8,9's 4x "your servant" (6 for David; 7,8,9 for Solomon); 8a's "among the people you have chosen"; 9's 2x "your people"
--> complete dependence on God at this point; off to a great start!
-8b's greatness of the task: governing "a great people, too numerous to count" --> 9b's "for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
-9a's request: "given [me] a discerning (lit. "hearing") heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong" (Ps 72:1-2, Pr 2:3-9, Jas 1:5, 4:3)
-w/ app. to God's P and our P
-vs. what else he could have asked for (power-- vs. his efforts too; kill enemies-- remove probs; material/physical blessings)
-despite David's deathbed words to Solomon! (2:6's "according to your wisdom", 2:9's "You are a man of wisdom")
-a mark of wisdom to know how little one knows
-see: what David asked for (as implied by the Psalms!)

3:10-14 for God's response
-10's sum: "The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this"

--> 11's "since you have asked for...discernment in administering justice"
-"and not for..."
-"long life or wealth for yourself"
-health and wealth revisited
-"for yourself" vs. others
-"the death of your enemies" (like David)
--> God is interested in what we do and don't ask for!
--> 12's requested blessing: "I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart..."
--> 13's unexpected blessing (Mt 6:31-33, Eph 3:20): "Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for-- both riches and honor..."
--> MH's "the way to obtain spiritual blessings is to [pursue] them, to wrestle with God in prayer for them...the way to obtain temporal blessings is to be indifferent to them and to refer ourselves to God concerning them. Solomon had wisdom given him because he did ask it and wealth because he did not ask it."
--> 14's conditional blessing: "And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did" --> then "I will give you a long life" (Dt 6:2, 22:7, Pr 3:1-2,16; Dt 17:20's long reign)
-only has to meet the standard of his father-- high, but certainly not perfection
-didn't choose obedience; died around 60 years old

3:16-28's famous example of Solomon's wisdom (skip)
-probably had been heard in lower court, but unable to resolve the case given its difficulty-- no evidence, only she said, she said
-Rene Girard: “Note that it does not matter who is the biological mother. The one who was willing to sacrifice herself for the child’s life is in fact the mother.”
-w/ app. to wisdom being often easy-to-see after-the-fact

6:1's timing: began in 480th year post-Israelites left Egypt
-a huge verse for chronological purposes; with the dates of Solomon's reign set in history, this is often used to date the Exodus at 1446 BC
-interesting that it took this long...
-God working his plan patiently for Israel through history; allowed it to take awhile to clear the land
-indicates that the building was secondary to His sheer presence and their obedience (w/ app. to focus on people/God vs. buildings)
-see also: 6:37's 4th year of Solomon's reign (966 BC)-- first three years to get established, to prepare for the tasks ahead
-w/ app. to training, being single, etc. (Josh 1-5); MH's "It is not time lost which is spent in composing ourselves for the work of God, and disentangling ourselves from everything which might distract or divert us."
-6:38's completed 7 years later (7.5 years, given the months)
-lasted until 586 BC when the Babylonians destroyed it; rebuilt 536-516
8:22-30's opening
--> opens with praise and reason for praise
--> Solomon vs. priests here-- former's willingness and ability, but supposed to be a theocracy-- God ruling through a human king
-23a's "O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you"
-24b's mouth and hand (vs. hypocrisy, etc.)
-27's rhetorical Q: "will God really dwell on earth?"-- the heavens cannot contain him, let alone Solomon's temple (see: 30's "heaven, your dwelling place")
            -getting it, even in the OT

8:55-61's blessings
--> in sum, a model for prayer: 56's praise for God’s words/works, 57's request for God's presence, 58 (from God!) and 61's ability and willingness to obey and “fully commit”, 59b's daily help, 60's evangelization (more later)
--> prayer for self, the people of his generation, and the peoples of the world
-backed by 62ff’s mega-offerings in number, variety and length

9:1-9 for the Lord's 2nd visit to Solomon (3:5-15)
-1's "when Solomon had finished...and had achieved all he had desired to do"-- both God-centered and more self-centered projects
-the statement itself as interesting-- end of current agenda vs. life's purpose as completed
-as opportunity vs. burden; GCM's "It was the hour when the accomplishment of work meant the relaxation of effort." (w/ apps. incl. Solomon, retirement, during-trial vs. post-trial, worship vs. post-worship)
-and danger correlated with level of accomplishment
-see also: the timing of God's visit
-after completion of the projects (w/ app.)
-leaving the big legacy/spotlight aspects of his life/reign
-post-pinnacle for Solomon; post-Temple for Israel
-about 24 years into his reign; around the age of 40 (w/ app.)
-4's if Solomon would "walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness as...David did" and obey the Lord...
--> then, 5's promise that his descendants would continue to rule
-"integrity...observe my decrees/laws" as attitude and action
-" did"-- "walk" and David as the standard
-and what David "did" comes before 4b's obedience!
--> but 6-9's if not (incl. idolatry), then...
--> GCM's "The king was called to a new sense of responsibility as to his own life, and as to the administration of his kingdom. Alas, the sequel is a very sad one."
à in sum, ch. 10’s mixed bag and ch. 11’s implosion

10:1-5's intro to the queen of Sheba
-1a's "Sheba"-- probably in SW Arabia (Yemen), connecting sea trade of India and East Africa with northern Arabia (e.g., Damascus, Gaza)
-aside from Solomon's wisdom, such a long trip perhaps motivated by trade considerations-- to promote trade or to pay Solomon tribute to allow trade
-see: 2a's “very great caravan"
-1a's "when [she] heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the Lord, she..."; 4-5's seeing and being "overwhelmed" by Solomon's wisdom, wealth, and worship (burnt offerings, incl. its symbolic passion)
-connecting 1a's fame to his relation to God, 4-5's wisdom, wealth and worship (8:42's answered prayer)
-import for evangelism; GCM's "That is true fame for the servant of God, that people are attracted through him, not to him, but to the God whom he represents."
-w/ app. to our gifts (or great fruit --> roots) as a catalyst for sharing our faith-- who gets the glory?
-requires consistent Godly lifestyle (here, in the context of business practice) and giving credit to Christ when able and appropriate
-1b's "came to test him with hard questions"; 2b's "talked with him about all that she had on her mind" (4:34; Mt 12:42)
-w/ app. to seekers:
-people with genuine Q's vs. people with tough Q's looking for an out
-people curious to see the style (vs. substance) of our response
--> 3a's "Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her"
-"explain" vs. "tell"-- requires teaching ability over and above sheer knowledge
-vs. buzzwords, pat answers
-esp. in contrast to usual correlation of knowledge with pride and lack of love or empathy
-w/ app. to our willingness and ability to answer-- or find the answers to-- tough Q's

10:6-9 (skim)
-6's amazing reputation for achievements and wisdom
-w/ app. to how others see us, if we display excellence of some sort (at least effort and character)-- and whether they connect those to God
-7a's reputation so strong that it was difficult to believe without seeing him in action (!)
-7b's but in fact, reputation was "not even half", "far exceeded" by reality
-in contrast, expectations frequently outweigh reality (vs. I Cor 2:9)
-8's exclamation about the resulting happiness of his officials (w/ app.)

-9's "praise be to the Lord your God..."
-prob. recognizing his God within a pantheon of her gods vs. a personal relationship
-despite Solomon's wonderful evangelism, apparently not effective at this point (w/ app.)

10:10,13's closing gifts indicate a probable trade agreement (skip)
--> connect between trade and evangelism-- then and now
-Solomon's worldliness, but also focused on the outside world and evangelism
-w/ app. to libertinism vs. legalism, heresy vs. incorrect traditions
-MH's intro to Ch. 11 as "the cloud his sun set under"
-see also: 1's "however"
-up to now, have seen Solomon living large vs. legalism, and weaknesses mostly hinted at (wealth, military power-- horses)
--> here, developed fully

11:1-8's wives and concubines (skip)
-1's "Solomon loved many foreign women"
-3a's 700 "wives of noble birth" and 300 concubines (Dt 17:17a, Pr 31:3's warnings)
-700 and 300 as fig. or lit.?
-no time for church/God—or driven to his knees in prayer!
-1's Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites
-2a's "nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites" not to "intermarry with them"-- "because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods" (Ex 34:15-16; Dt 7:1-6)
-despite God's command and good reason, 2b's "nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love"
--> why?
-because he could!...
-perhaps peer pressure (like all the other kings)
-esp. given concubines, lust and personal pleasure
-but how is 2c's 'love' defined here?
-his wives: 3b's "led him astray", 4b's "turned his heart after other gods" (Neh 13:26; Mt 6:24)
-interesting that some of the blame is seemingly put on the wives, although Solomon is fully culpable
-so that 4c's "his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord"; and 6a's "So [he] did evil in the eyes of the Lord"
-vs. 4d's "as...David...had been"; and vs. 6b's David who apparently did "follow the Lord completely"
-comparison to David (revisited)
-David as an interesting standard (revisited)
--> wealth/power and women as his weak spots
-w/ app. to what are our weak spots?
-former w/ app. to affluence vs. lack of dependence on God
--> probable stages of his sin: resisted, tolerated, and rationalized evil/idolatry (Jas 1:14-15)
-his sins did not occur all at once (would be easy to dismiss if so)...
-see: parallels to Samson; MH's Solomon "sinned away his wisdom as Samson did his strength (and in the same way)"
--> a strange/interesting/sobering failing for Solomon
-the over-arching role and general danger of pride
-in his 40s and 50s and apparently not earlier
-so wise a man on an important topic about which he had warned others (Pr 5-7, etc.)
-despite his earlier fervent worship of God
-despite his earlier choice of wisdom over wealth (one of his later stumbling blocks)
-despite his father's struggles in this arena with Bathsheba and many wives
-see: should have been instructive vs. easier to fall
-where was his Nathan? the near-impossibility of providing accountability for the wisest and most powerful man in the world

11:9-13 for God's judgment
--> 9a's "the Lord became angry with Solomon"
-10's in the face of the Law and an explicit command in God's visit to Solomon
--> 11-13's judgment rendered to Solomon
-11b's punishment: "tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates" (see: 11:26-40)
-MH's a just punishment: "since he had revolted from God...his kingdom should revolt from [him]"
-12-13's moderations:
-12b's not during his reign, but his son's-- more painful?
-13's "will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe"
-the one tribe as grace and God's to give, not his right as the king's son/heir
-"for the sake of" 12,13's David, 13's Jerusalem
à next chapter of The Story…


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