Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Year: 1 Kings 5-6 for Apr 8

In 5:5 Solomon repeats things from the Davidic covenant given by the prophet Nathan to David in 2 Sam 7.

Solomon doesn't re-iterate 2 Sam 7:13, however. David had understood in 2 Sam 7 that there are portions that applied to the covenant, "that it may continue forever before You" (1 Sam 7:29). In fact, the whole prayer of David in 2 Sam 7:18-29 is a great example of what you can do, when the Lord has NOT just given you a to-do list, but what you can do and say to Him about what He has promised to do Himself (cf. 2 Sam 7:27-29).

Look, however, at some intervening events. In 2 Kings 2, David, as his "time to die drew near" (2:1), says things that have another reference and emphasis, telling Solomon that the Lord had said 'if your sons are careful of their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel'" (2:4).

This is quite a different emphasis than what is said in the language of the covenant, is it not? Is it not different in its emphasis than 2 Sam 7:14-16? "'I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; you throne shall be established forever.'" It is different, but it is complementary, not contradictory.

There is a time in which God appears to Solomon himself, after this, in a dream, in 1 Kings 3:5ff. Here, this is what God says to Solomon ... compare it to what David had said in 1 Kings 2:4, because it is quite different, and also complementary, not contradictory: "If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days" (3:14). And that was the final word from God to Solomon in the dream: "Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream!" (3:15).

Solomon, enlightened by 3:14, goes forward with his task at hand, the building of the temple. What happens if we peek ahead to later, especially 1 Kings 9:1ff, since there, the text is making a backward reference to 3:5, and see how God elaborates on the implications of the Davidic covenant He made in 2 Sam 7?

There are further events, together with God's explanations of them, coming. Compare especially 1 Kings 11:9-13.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Year: 1 Kings 3-4 for Apr 7

The narrative leaves it to us to notice the difference between father and son literarily, in 1 Kings 3-4.

Are there psalms "of wisdom," displaying wisdom, reflecting wisdom on the part of the writer? Sure, but not explicitly so, like the introduction to Proverbs promises. Isn't that the nature of the case, that is, one difference between a person's prayers and a person's wisdom? How much wisdom does God require in order to seek Him, pray to Him, ask Him, beg Him, rejoice in His presence?

David did not become famous among the nations of his contemporary world because of his prayers. His contemporaries had their own religion and doubtless looked upon David's prayers to his God as the prayers to a national deity. But 1 K 4:29-34 describes something that attracted the nations. Proverbs, songs, science, wisdom, riches, and honor.

Can we call this gift great, and yet also call it second tier? Looking at the summary of Solomon's spirituality in 1 Kings 3:3, it would be appropriate to limit the praise of Solomon somehow. The Lord's illustration of Solomon is positive and wide, saying that wisdom greater than the wisdom of Solomon is there with Him (Mt 12:42). The superlative is reserved for Solomon's "glory," i.e., his outward glory, which Jesus puts second to that of the lilies of the field (Mt 6:29).