Hard at work being king, Solomon sets his foot to walking two paths. The path of pleasure and the path of wisdom. His wise prayer apparently didn’t reach his personal life.
We find Solomon hard at work managing the kingdom of Israel. He is doing all he knows to do to be the ruler his father was; the ruler his father hoped he would be. He has the first and most important part down pat. “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in his statutes of David his father” (verse 3a). But the verse doesn’t end here. Solomon “sacrificed and made offerings at the high places” (verse 3b).
I’m curious, wasn’t Gibeon where the Tabernacle was set up? David brought the Ark into Jerusalem but the Tabernacle of Moses was still in Gibeon. Was it wrong for Solomon to bring his offerings there? Was it that he wasn’t offering them through the priests but by his own hand? Was he offering them in another place in Gibeon? David commanded that the daily sacrifices continue in Gibeon even after the Ark was in Jerusalem. David made sacrifices at the tent he set up for the Ark and also at the threshing floor of Adulum. This last place is where God told him to make an alter after God showed mercy following David’s sin of numbering the people. 1 Chronicles 21:30 tells us that David couldn’t go to Gibeon at that time because he was afraid of the angel’s sword. I thought he had gone to Gibeon earlier to make a sacrifice but I can’t find it. If you know where that story is, please let me know.
David ‘stayed home’ to offer his sacrifices. But Solomon went to Gibeon. God doesn’t condemn him for going to Gibeon but it does rate an unfavorable mention. When Solomon went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices it was a significant event. He offered a THOUSAND animals at a time. During one of those visits God met him in a dream.
In this dream God offered Solomon a ‘blank check.’ He could ask for whatever he wanted. God knew his heart so He wasn’t afraid of Solomon’s answer. He knew Solomon’s heart better than Solomon knew it himself. Solomon was a humble king, like his father. He also felt insecure about how he was doing. He didn’t even have to think about what he needed from God. He needed wisdom, the kind that only comes from God. God was MORE than willing to answer that request. Now Solomon was firmly down the path of being the wisest king who ever lived.
But Solomon had started down another ‘road’ that was anything but wise. We see his foot on that road in the first verse of our reading. “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (verse 1a). This is the first of many wives that Solomon would acquire. And they were NOT from among the tribes of Israel. God told the Israelites not to intermarry with other nations. He also told Israel to keep away from Egypt. He knew the polluting effect such mixing would bring. Solomon’s wives would lead him away from God.
I have a question here. Were the majority of Solomon’s marriages efforts to form alliances? This first one was. How many of the rest were? Was he a ‘passionate’ man or a political schemer? Whatever the initial reason for the marriages, his desire to please his wives led to him falling headlong into idolatry.
So here stands Solomon at the head of two divergent roads. One foot firmly on the path of wisdom from God to rule His people. And the other foot on the path of personal folly. In spite of the second path God uses Solomon greatly! But it will cost him and it will cost Israel.
We end our reading today with Solomon doing something special. He stops going to the “high places” and goes instead to the tent his father set up for the Ark of God. There he makes his burnt offerings and peace offerings. He also made a feast for all his servants.
He came home to worship the Lord. After 1,000 sacrifices to the Lord at Gibeon, he finds himself before the presence of the Lord. The Tabernacle still stood but it was without the presence of the Lord. That resided on a hill in Jerusalem.
I would MUCH rather be where God’s presence is than walking in some format of religion. I’m not saying that the Solomon should have abandoned what the Tabernacle stood for but without the heart of God in it, it was an empty shell. Fortunately God and Solomon were already working on remedying that problem by bringing the two back together. That would be the House of the Lord we saw mentioned in verse 1 of our reading.
Father God, thank You that I don’t have to go to some specific place to be with You. You have made my heart Your home, through Your Holy Spirit. My ‘temple’ is full because Your Spirit occupies it. I would LOVE the wisdom of Solomon but I don’t have the need for it that he did. Too bad he didn’t use it in his personal or political life.
One critical thing that Solomon did was to acknowledge that he needed Your help. He knew he couldn’t do the job before him on his own. I have to know when and how to ask for help. And who to ask for it from. Help me Lord in this area. And help me be patient and understanding when those who promise help fail to deliver it on my schedule (or even their promised schedule). I want to show Your love in all I do.