1 Kings 10:14-11:13; 14:25-28
Today we come to the crescendo (or the deafening crash) of Solomon’s story. For the past two days we have been focusing on the positive aspects of God’s blessing. Today we see the other side of the equation. God warned Solomon, very directly, that if he lost his focus then the “blessing” would be ripped away.
Notice the three areas in which Solomon lost his focus and broke the law regarding the king in Deuteronomy 17. As we observe these three offenses we would do well to monitor our own heart as well:
- He must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself.If this were written in today’s world it may read like this, “the king must not build up a huge reserve of war machines like tanks, ships, and planes, nor should he storehouse an arsenal of nuclear weapons.” In Solomon’s day the horse was not an aesthetic beast that galloped around on a picturesque rolling field, waiting to ride in the Kentucky Derby. A horse was the war machine of the day. The army who had the most horses usually won the battle. So, if the king was building up his stables he was bolstering his military power against his enemies. Why would God not want the king to do this? Wouldn’t acquiring horses just be smart leadership? Remember who we are dealing with here. God is the one who told Joshua to march around the city seven times. God is the one who told Gideon to send most of the soldiers away. God is the one who used a shepherd boy to bring down the Philistine champion. Has God ever needed or wanted His people to build up an army? Has the battle ever belonged to the people of Israel? Never. If the king were to build up a reserve of horses it would be an external symptom of a serious heart disease. It would be a symptom of a lack of faith in the protection and deliverance that comes only from the Lord. How many times do we store up horses in our own lives? We stock pile for a rainy day. We stash a cabinet of guns to protect against the intruder. We believe in our own strength and wisdom to get us out of a jam. Our prayer life becomes reserved for that moment when we have exhausted all our own strength and the threat is still coming. Well, at that point, it may be too late.
- He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.The hording of wealth is an indicator of two forms of heart disease. The first is similar to the stockpiling of horses. To horde wealth is to believe that God will not be able or does not desire to meet your physical needs on a daily basis. It demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s provision. The second demonstrates a hierarchical perspective on the community of God. In other words, it is a belief that the people who are in places of leadership are somehow better than the rest of the masses and deserve to be served and to be pampered. God never intended for this to be the case in His kingdom. In God’s original design all things existed in balanced, equal harmony with one another. It was sin and the knowledge of evil that created the pecking order in humanity, causing people to use and abuse one another in an effort to climb to the top of the tower of power and control. A good king would have realized that the wealth of the nation was just that, the wealth of the nation, not his own. A king should live in the same status as the people and the financial resources should be used to benefit the entire population and care for those who are not able to care for themselves. Solomon blew it in this department and passed his values about finances and social status on to his son Rehoboam. This distortion of truth is what ultimately destroyed the kingdom. Too many times we, too, slip into the same perspective on money. We believe that the money we earn is our money. We think it belongs to us, and because we worked hard for it we should be free to pamper ourselves with it. In the community of God we must realize that all money is God’s money and that He gives us gifts in order to mutually edify the body. In the book of Acts they shared everything in common. Those with the gifts of leadership and teaching did not lord it over their “subjects.” They understood their gifts and their role in the body to be that of a supporting servant, working to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
- He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.We must read this command through the cultural lenses not only regarding the average Joe marriage, but also through political lenses as well. For the king, marriage was more about politics than it was about romance. When a king wanted to make peace with a country he would take the daughter of the rival king as his wife. What king would invade the land where his daughter is queen, right? If a king took on many wives it meant that he was getting in bed (both literally and figuratively) with the surrounding pagan nations. We know how God felt about that from Deuteronomy 7:3-4, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” If the king intermarried with these nations, then the ramifications of this unholy alliance would have national impact. Solomon did not just break this law, he annihilated this law by taking on 700 political marriages plus 300 wives for pleasure (concubines). In our lives this may seem to be a mute point. How many of us suffer from polygamy? Ah, but we do, in fact. We get in bed with pagan wives all the time. We have married ourselves to ways of thinking that are contrary to the Kingdom of God. We have bought into the “wisdom of the world” as Paul put it, and are constantly being pulled between two competing value systems. Check your heart today. Are there any pagan wives hanging around in the harem of your heart?
How do you view your finances and your position today? Do you think that because you are poor and do not have a leadership role in the church that you are less valuable than others? WRONG! Do you think that because you have a leadership role in the church that you should be treated differently or profit financially because of it? WRONG! We are the community of God. He provides for us, we care for each other, and the Kingdom of God prevails!