19 March 2016

Stone 11 - 1 Kings

David was getting along in years and it was time for the crown to be passed on to the next king soon. Let's see how this plays out.

It would appear that David's plan was to place Solomon on the throne (1Kings 1:13) after his death as king. However, David's oldest surviving son at the time, Adonijah, was already working to take the kingship.

Nothing Is Ever Simple
Time and time again we find people deliberately deceiving others for their own gain. This situation is no different. In verse 7 we find Adonijah conspiring with others about being king. In verses 9 and 10 we find that Adonijah is doing some sacrificing and invited several people that were in support of him but not Solomon or a couple others that would be in opposition to his taking of the throne. Hmmm... wonder why...?

So Nathan finds out and works with Bathsheba - remember that is Solomon's mom - to let David know so that he can take care of getting this ironed out. David proceeds to have Solomon announced as king (1Kings 1:33-34). Now this was crucial since this was King David that was making this proclamation rather than Adonijah making his own. So since David made this announcement - it was going to have much more carrying weight than whatever Adonijah and his band had proclaimed.

Not surprisingly, Adonijah and his crew get word that this has happened and they scatter in fear (1Kings 1:49:50). Ever run and hide when you get caught doing something you know you should not have? These guys must have felt the same way - oops, here we are claiming ourselves to be king and the current king is not even dead and he places someone else on the throne and we didn't invite him to our coronation party because we were trying to be sneaky. OOOHHH, this cannot be good for us. RUN!

David Gives Instructions
So David remembers all that he promised and all that had been done to him and shares with Solomon so that he can remember to honor promises or carry out God's judgement. David wisely advises Solomon to stay in the Lord (1Kings 2:2-4).

David passes on and some time afterwards now that all of Israel is aware that Solomon was king, Adonijah is still scheming by asking for Abishag. However, he is too scared to go in and ask for himself so he asks Bathsheba to go and ask for him. **This made me think of those times in elementary school when kids would write notes - you know, before texting was a thing - and have a friend deliver it asking do you like me?** In this case Adonijah knows that he is asking a bit over his reach. Abishag is what remains of David's harem. Remember that control of the harem was a pretty major poitical advantage of the time. We see by Solomon's response in 2:22 that he was not happy and later deals with Adonijah severely (1Kings 2:25).

Solomon then spends some time following through with the instructions that David had left him.

Solomon the Wise
At some point, God comes to Solomon and pretty much says I will give you whatever you want (1Kings 3:5) - Say WHAT!? OK - WOW - how would you like to have that happen? Now here is the response from Solomon... Wisdom (1Kings 3:9). God was pleased by this request and granted him not only wisdom but honor and riches as well (1Kings 3:11-13). Well played, Solomon, well played. **How many of us would have blown that opportunity?

An amazing example of this wisdom that may initially seem cold and cruel at first glance is when the two  mothers come before him with one accusing the other of stealing her baby after she had inadvertently killed her own (1Kings 3:19-20). Solomon says to have the baby cut in half and given to each of them to share (1Kings 3:25). The response is that the true mother says to let the other have it and the false mother agrees to the choice. Solomon responds by giving the child to the mother who wanted it to live (1Kings 3:27).

Building Stuff
God honors his promise to Solomon as we read in 1 Kings 4:20-34. At some point Solomon enters into some agreements with Hiram related to some materials for building a temple to the Lord. He also makes arrangements to put some people to work on the construction. Chapter 6 outlines many of the details of the temple which was an overall project that took seven years (1Kings 6:38). As with many others before Solomon, God makes it clear that He will remain in their presence so long as he is obedient (1Kings 6:11-13).

Solomon also spends 13 years working on his palace (1Kings 7:1). Some time in there is some work to complete the temple with bronze pillars, water carts, basins, utensils, a reservoir, and many gold furnishings. Upon completion of it all, Solomon dedicates it to the Lord.

Once again the Lord tells Solomon the consequences of obedience versus disobedience (1Kings 9:4-9).

Even Solomon in all his wisdom made some mistakes (1Kings 11:1-6). Of course, as the Lord promised a couple chapters earlier, with disobedience would come ruin. This comes in the form of the separation of Israel. Up to now, Israel has been united under Saul, David, and Solomon but this will change (1Kings 11:11-13). The prophet Ahijah comes along and tells Jeroboam that he is going to get 10 tribes (1Kings 11:30-32) but that because of David he will not get the rest. God still demands obedience from Jeroboam as well (1Kings 11:38). When Solomon passed away, his son Rehoboam bacame king.

Ok - so now we are "under new management" and that means that the people come to make requests of the new guy (1Kings 12:4). They offer to serve him if he lightens the load of work that they were given by Solomon. Rehoboam was given advice by the elders and some advice from his buddies. Unfortunately for Rehoboam, he chose to follow the advice of his buddies and the people did not take to it well and went back. Jeroboam became king over Israel and Rehoboam was king over Judah.

So it did not take long for Jeroboam to fall away from the Lord based on his own fears of losing power. Since Jerusalem was in Rehoboam's territory, Jeroboam didn't like that his people would go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices (1Kings 12:27). Well, he makes a poor choice and constructs idols of worship to other gods. This does not play out well for Jeroboam in the end.

Here is an interesting segment in this account. I find it to be interesting because I think it speaks of what happens all around us to this day. A man of God comes and speaks out against the false idols that Jeroboam has constructed and they (1Kings 13:5). Jeroboam invites him to stay and eat but the man of God declines saying that God has instructed him not to do so (1Kings 13:7-9). The man of God leaves and comes across an old prophet who also invites him to come and eat with him. Again the man of God declines for the same reasons he gave Jeroboam (1Kings 13:15-17). **So here comes my connection to our times...** In verses 18 and 19 we see the deception of the old prophet who lies to the man of God - deliberately deceiving him. It costs him his life in the end as he listened to the old prophet. I am saddened by the deception that runs rampant in our country.

Line of Kings
We now get an account of the kings to follow in both houses of Judah and Israel.
After Rehoboam came Abijam who reigned for about three years and did evil in God's eyes (1Kings 15:2) folowed by Asa who reigned for 41 years and did what was right in God's eyes (1Kings 15:9-10). After Asa came Jehoshaphat who reigned for 25 years (1Kings 22:42).
After Jeroboam came Nadab who reigned for two years (1Kings 15:25) and did evil in the sight of the Lord. Next came Baasha who reigned for 24 years (1Kings 15:33). He also did evil in the sight of the Lord and was at war with Asa from Judah during much of their reigns together (1Kings 15:16). After Baasha came Elah who reigned for two years. This was Baasha's son (1Kings 16:8) Zimri followed by killing Elah and taking kingship (1Kings 16:10). His reign lasted only a week as Omri was named after that by Israel. Omri also did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord (v.25). Then we come to Ahab who was Omri's son who reigned for 22 years (1Kings 16:29). He was a worshipper of Baal and is said to have done more evil in the sight of the Lord compared to all those before him (1Kings 16:30).

Enter Elijah
This is quite an amazing account of a prophet of the Lord who comes and confronts evil as displayed in the behavior of King Ahab the Baal worshipper. To make the longer story short, Elijah comes to Ahab and challenges him and his prophets of Baal atop of Mount Carmel (1Kings 18:19, 23-24). The challenge is to place a bull upon the altar and then cry out to God. The one that answers by fire is the true God. What is fun here is that the Baal worshippers are busy crying out for several hours (1Kings 18:26-29) and Elijah is busy mocking them when their god does not reply in front of all of Israel. That evening, Elijah takes his bull on the altar and douses it with several buckets of water and builds a trench around it full of water. He makes sure his bull is good and wet. An awesome request is made by Elijah in 18:37 and the fire comes and burns it all up water, stones, and all (1Kings 18:38). Elijah calls for Israel to seize the prophets of Baal and he kills them all later (1Kings 18:40). Point made. Another 'W' for God.

So Ahab goes home and tells his wife Jezebel all about the incredible afternoon and this made her angry so she vowed to kill Elijah (1Kings 19:1-2). Elijah flees and prays to God for death but the Lord strengthens him and tells him to stand in the Lord's presence on the mountain.

This is interesting to me... Elijah goes out and stands on the mountain as he was told and along comes wind but no Lord, then and earthquake but no Lord, then fire but no Lord, finally a whisper comes (1Kings 19:11-12. It makes me think of all the "noise" through which we must filter the voice of God. Imagine the difficulties of trying to hear a whisper through the chaos of wind, earthquake, and fire...! Remain patient - focus on Him and listen.

God instructs Elijah to appoint Elisha to take his place - note difference of spelling - who pretty much drops everything and follows Elijah.

Ahab later has a run-in with a fellow named Naboth. Ahab wanted his vineyard and offered to buy it or trade for something else but Naboth declined. I almost get a sense of Ahab's immaturity in the response (1Kings 21:4). He goes in and lays on his bed and refuses to eat. His wife comes in and is like "What's wrong?" He replies that he is upset because Naboth said 'No.' (1Kings 21:5-6). Jezebel devises a plan to slander Naboth and gets him stoned to death where Ahab then takes the land.

Of course, this was not hidden from the Lord. So Elijah is sent to tell Ahab of his impending doom (1Kings 21:19). Ahab's response is such that God says He will not bring this on him during his lifetime but during the lifetime of his son.

Final Days for Ahab
During Jehoshaphat's tenure as king, Ahab wanted his help to go and defeat Ramoth-gilead. Since Jehoshaphat was a follower of the Lord, he asked for knowledge of God's will. Ahab asked some prophets and they said that he should go fight and the Lord would hand it over. Jehoshaphat was not buying it and asked specifically for a prophet of Yahweh. We learn that there is one but Ahab doesn't like that idea because Micaiah always proclaims disaster. **Funny how Ahab chose to listen to those people who told him what he wanted to hear. We are warned of this in 2 Timothy 4:3**

As Ahab predicted, Micaiah had some disastrous things to say and so he has Micaiah placed in prison (1Kings 22:27-28). They go up to fight anyway and Ahab tries to disguise himself as someone other than the king but dies anyway (1Kings 22:34-35)

Jehoshaphat continued to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord while Ahaziah replaced Ahab and reigned for 2 years doing evil in the sight of the Lord. Jehoram eventually replaced Jehoshaphat.

So we have all these kings - some doing evil and others doing right in the eyes of the Lord. We will continue to follow the history in 2 Kings next week.

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