>If you were to look around at various commentaries on the monarchies of David and Solomon you would start to recognize comments like: “David’s reign was like the noon of Israel’s day and with Solomon the sun began to set.”
I’m sure that they’re making comment on the fact that Solomon was lead astray later in life by the religious practices of his foreign wives AND that the kingdom starts to crumble pretty rapidly after him.
But let’s look at some simple facts:
1. The nation was in a bit of a mess starting after Joshua’s generation that didn’t have much chance at resolution until Saul took the throne.
2. Saul’s reign was fraught with mishap even as they tried to consolidate their territory.
3. Most of David’s reign is characterized by ongoing warfare…one of the reasons he is disqualified from building the temple.
4. As far as Solomon’s reign goes scripture tells us his kingdom was not firmly established in his grasp until someone around his fourth year on the throne…after he had finished his fathers business. (see: http://cre8ive-yyyguy.blogspot.com/2009/05/solomon-ascending.html )
5. We’re told that Solomon starts the temple in his fourth year…somewhere in that time, or just preceding it, he is married to his “true love” the woman who is the object of the Song of Solomon.
6. It takes seven years to build the temple and fourteen to build his palace…so his construction is finished sometime around his twentieth year on the throne.
Is this the point where we get to take a breath?
We’re told that God “appears to Solomon a second time” after he had finished his building projects:
1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, 2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The LORD said to him:
“I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
4 “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
6 “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 8 And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’ “
…and because we’ve read the story before we know that this WILL happen.
On the one hand I find it incredibly discouraging that these guys who have been given wisdom and promises of generations of rulers and direct conversation with God could fail so quickly…indeed as quickly and as often as I seem to fail.
I confess I am discouraged by how quickly Israel crumbles as a nation once the kingdom is established.
But I suppose that rather than being a testament to failure it becomes a picture of how incredibly important the work of grace and Christ’s sacrifice truly is in bringing us into relationship with God. The law, viewed from almost any perspective, is a failure when it comes to restoring relationship. Legalism, rules, regulations…failure.
Without Christ, without restored and right relationship, it is impossible to follow God.
That pretty much sums up Moses through Solomon, at least as I see it today.