Beloved King David's death gives birth to Solomon's reign at the beginning of 1 Kings. King Solomon's wisdom and wealth is unmatched through biblical history. The Temple he built, in my mind, rivals the fragrance and glory of a cedar and pine sparkling mansion. Before reading 1 Kings, I related the look of the Lord's temple to Roman ruins I saw on a trip to Italy - not so. Following a prayer of dedication for the Temple, the Lord speaks to Solomon in what is known as one of the key verses in 1 Kings:
"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, 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' "
(1 King 9:4,5)
David was not perfect, but the Bible notes his integrity of heart and uprightness. He did not serve other Gods... unfortunately all the other kings to follow couldn't help themselves. Among Solomon's plentiful supply of resources were a plethora of wives. 1 Kings 11:3 says he had 700 wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives lead him astray. v.4 Says his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
From here, the book of 1st Kings falls head first into a tug of war between idolatry and repentance. There were schemes to kill prophets and the building of golden calf shrines. Yet, there were glimpses of succeeding kings who wept and tore their clothes in regret before the word of the Lord. God had made clear that Israel's security and unity rested in their relationship with Him. Still, the Kings of Israel and Judah fall to idolatry and self sufficiency and STILL you'll see in the book of 1st Kings, God persistently forgives.
I reflect on 1 Kings with great gratitude for God's mercy through history and in my life now. I can see myself in those wild and wicked kings. Idols galore. Yet, before Jesus's died on the cross to provide payment for our sins to be forgiven, God still forgave. For some reason I thought he was more wrathful and angry then. Nope, same forgiving God. However, I'm glad that in 2013 I don't have to give sacrifice at Solomon's glorious Temple. Jesus' blood is the final sacrifice and belief in Him is sufficient for all forgiveness.
One final thought–God was continuously speaking to each King about what he wanted to do with their life. He clearly spoke to each King and in that way it's easy to believe that He was in charge. And why is God in charge? To be bossy? No way. I'd like to end my reflection with Acts 17:26-28
"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being."