Chronicles: Solomon’s Covenant

April 14, 2011

I Kings 9:1-9 lays out God’s response to Solomon’s build and dedicating of the Temple:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple, the royal palace, and all the other construction projects he had planned, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The LORD said to him, “I have answered your prayer and your request for help that you made to me. I have consecratedthis temple you built by making it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there. You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations. Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will notfail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.

“But if you or your sons ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecratedwith my presence, and Israel will be mocked and ridiculed among all the nations.  This temple will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by it will be shocked and will hiss out their scorn, saying, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God, who led their ancestors out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why the LORD has brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Good old Solomonic covenant right.  So, Chronicles just repeats the same thing right?  No.  Ooooooh, no my friends!  Here’s the Chronicler’s take:

After Solomon finished building the LORD’s temple and the royal palace, and accomplished all his plans for the LORD’s temple and his royal palace, the LORDappeared to Solomon at night and said to him: “I have answered your prayer and chosenthis place to be my temple where sacrifices are to be made.  When I close up the sky so that it doesn’t rain, or command locusts to devour the land’s vegetation, or send a plague among my people, if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray,seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Now I will be attentive and responsive to the prayers offered in this place. Now I have chosen and consecrated this temple bymaking it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there.  You must serveme as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will establish your dynasty, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will not fail to have a successor ruling over Israel.’

“But if you people ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove you from my land I have given you, I will abandon this temple I haveconsecrated with my presence, and I will make you an object of mockery and ridicule among all the nations.  As for this temple, which was once majestic, everyone who passes by it will be shocked and say, ‘Why did the LORD do this to this land and this temple?’ Others will then answer, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors, who led them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why he brought all this disaster down on them.’”

Whereas Solomon’s covenant makes sense of exile in Kings, it more precisely clarifies how the post-judgment people are to make their way back to God (in bold above)–a very pertinent bit of information for the inferred audience of Chronicles.

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Prophets in Kings

May 22, 2008

Just a quick post on prophets in the book (“books” for those of us who can not reconcile the fact that I and II Kings are really just one book…).

First of all, prophets and their prophecies–specifically the fulfillment of their prophecies–seem to litter the book.  Here are the prophecies which I found to be given and fulfilled within Kings:

  • I Kings 13:26 fulfills I Kings 13:22
  • I Kings 14:18 fulfills I Kings 14:12
  • I Kings 15:29 fulfills I Kings 14:10
  • I Kings 16:12 fulfills I Kings 16:3
  • I Kings 17:16 fulfills I Kings 17:14
  • I Kings 22:38 fulfills I Kings 21:21
  • II Kings 1:17 fulfills II Kings 1:4
  • II Kings 7:16 fulfills II Kings 7:1
  • II Kings 9:26; 10:17 fulfill I Kings 19:17
  • II Kings 23:16 fulfills I Kings 13:2
  • II Kings 24:2 fulfills II Kings 21:13-14

Though there may be others I have missed, I have only spotted two fulfillments of prophecies given outside of Kings:

  • I Kings 2:27 fulfills I Samuel 2:33
  • I Kings 16:34 fulfills Joshua 6:26

With all the prophecy/prophet emphasis noted above I am let to ask two questions: 1) Why is there so little prophetic involvement in the life and times of Solomon (chps. 1-11)?  And 2) Why does the author of Kings place such a large emphasis on the prophets?  Here is my stab at an answer to these questions:

1) The author of Kings uses the temple building/Solomonic era as one of the litmus tests which will    clarify the outcome of the book for the reader.  To illustrate: when Solomon builds his temple God offers him an ultimatum:

“Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David…But if your or your sons ever turn away from me…then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecrated with my presence, and Israle will be mocked and ridiculed among the nations.” -I Kings 9:4-7

If in fact there is a divine ultimatum being issued here, then it sets the reader up over the course of the book with a clear guide by which he or she will be able to judge the actions of the following kings (cf. II Kings 25:9).

2) The answer to the second question (regarding the heavy emphasis on prophets) is that their function within the book is to declare the current state of things in view of God’s ultimatum (above).  Their role, as ones who remind God’s people of God’s standard, is central to the book, because it taps in to one of the central questions to the book: How will God’s people perform according to God’s ultimatum? 

Ultimately the outcome of the prophets’ involvement in Kings is the explanation of the demise of Israel/Judah (though there remains a point of light in II KIngs 25:27-30) and the establishment of God’s position on his people’s actions throughout the monarchy period. 

 


Solomonic Perspective In I Kings

May 6, 2008

As I read through the early chapters of I Kings I cannot help but notice the varying perspective discrepacies which seem to be littered across the Solomonic landscape.  As a reader I find myself repeatedly asking, “Who is endorsing this message?”  I want the uber-clear statement of today’s political ads: “My name is Yahweh and I approved this message.”  Seldom do we hear this message, and I, for one, am left languishing. 

The problem, in my estimation can be boiled down to the reticence of the author/narrator to evaluate Solomon’s actions in a number of spheres.  Here are a sampling of the place I find Solomon’s actions to be either ambiguous or outright wrong:

  1. I Kings 2:24 Solomon views God as having established him on the throne “and established dynasty for me as he promised”–did God promise that? 
  2. I Kings 3:1 “Solomon made an alliance my marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; he married Pharaoh’s daughter”–Dt. 17:16
  3. I Kings 3:3-4 In the key passage where Solomon is supposed to have attained wisdom from God the text describes Solomon as going to “the most prominent of the high places”–which is the discrepancy between David and Solomon cited in I Kings 3:3.
  4. I Kings 3:5 God appears to Solomon…in a dream.  Reliable source or no?  (note especially the beginning of I Kings 3:15)  This is the only time from Joshua through Kings where a dream carries God’s authority (except I Sam. 28 where Saul is expecting God to speak through dreams).
  5. If the previous is cast doubtfully, the I Kings 3:15 must also be so for the people “realized that [Solomon] possessed supernatural wisdom…”
  6. I Kings 4:26  Horses.  Dt. 17:16 clearly states that the king should not accumulate horses for himself.  The question is at this point is, “Is Solomon ‘accumulating horses’?”
  7. I Kings 5:5 Was God’s original promise which Solomon is quoting (II Sam 7:13) really about the Temple or about dynasty?  In my reading the answer to this question is put in doubt by divine statement in 6:11-13 (“As for this temple you are building…”)–which happens to be God’s first input on the project, and comes just before Solomon finishes the building (Begging the question: Did God have a say in the matter?)
  8. I Kings 6:38-7:1 Why does Solomon’s house take almost twice as long to build as the Temple?
  9. I Kings 8:24 Solomon views his temple as fulfillment of God’s promise–the narrator never statedly agrees (that I recall)
  10. I Kings 8:56 Of course therea are promises made through Moses which were unfulfilled at this point! (unless Solomon views himself as the Messiah!)
  11. I Kings 9:28 Solomon is accumulating gold…(Dt. 17:17)
  12. I Kings 10:14-11:5 Finally, the clearest statement in all of Kings against Solomon list his rebellion in deafening clarity against the clear backdrop of the kingly description of Dt 17 .  Ouch. 

How am I intended to view Solomon?  What is the interplay between Solomon’s self-portrayal, the people’s perception, YHWH’s decrees and the author’s portrayal?  As far as I can tell the author of I Kings has chosen to tell a somewhat mixed story of this Son of David…Why?

Further study: What of Solomon’s career does YHWH endorse?