1 Kings: From a Golden Heart to a “Golden Age”
There are two major sections in 1 Kings.
Solomon’s Golden Age ch. 1-11
David was a man after God’s own heart. As we read last week, we realize that David was not a perfect man, yet David had two strengths that endeared him to the Lord. First, he was honest with God. He had a vital relationship with the Lord, warts and all. Second, he saw his role as king to be that of the servant of the people. He did not exalt himself into grandiose positions. He was a humble warrior/servant/king. This is what God desired. David had a golden heart.
Solomon succeeded David on the throne of Israel. Solomon began well and ended in tragedy. The downfall of Solomon’s reign was that he externalized the gold. He forgot that the gold that God desires for His people is the golden shine of a surrendered heart, not the gold shine of a big building or a powerful nation.
David’s son started well by asking God for a discerning heart. He asked for understanding to be able to govern the people with fairness. Through Solomon’s wisdom the nation of Israel experienced a “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity. During this time Solomon became a prolific author, songwriter, and scientist.
Then everything changed. Solomon violated the law regarding the king found in Deuteronomy 17 and amassed for himself great wealth, great military power, and a vast harem of foreign wives who wooed him with their pagan gods. In the end, Solomon abandoned Yahweh, followed after his wives’ gods, and was cut off from the blessing of God.
Israel’s Bronze Age ch. 12-22
After Solomon’s death his son, Rehoboam, took the throne of David and made things in Israel go from bad to worse. Because of his stubbornness and detachment from the plight of the lower class, the ten tribes of Israel rebelled against the house of David and split Israel into two kingdoms.
Symbolic of this tarnishing of Solomon’s “Golden Age,” 1 Kings 14:25-28 tells of how the Egyptians stole all the gold from the temple, forcing Rehoboam to replace it with Bronze. Visualizing Rehoboam’s guards standing with bronze shields in place of the once brilliant shields of gold is a fitting picture for the mockery that the monarchy of Israel was about to become.
The rest of 1 Kings and the entire book of 2 Kings is the story of the downward spiral of both kingdoms, Judah and Israel, that led to their ultimate destruction. Similar to the story of the Judges, these tales are full of bad kings being scolded by unwelcomed prophets. These kings plunged the nations deeper and deeper into idolatry and separation from the true Kingdom of God.