Solomon's Quiet Time
Holy and Gracious Father, You are present and active, and Your kingdom is still in this world. Pour Your grace and peace over me.
2 Chronicles 1:1-17
Consider: History, and the history of our lives, often hinge on seemingly small things. We need always to be prayerful and careful about decisions we must make.
Our book opens with Solomon established firmly over his kingdom. We might describe this as an exercise in nation building, with both political rule and public worship centralized in the new capital city. It is a picture of success, glory and impressive size. The ruler speaks to the commanders of thousands, to judges and officials, and he offers a thousand burnt offerings in public worship. When it is all over and the excited crowds have dispersed, the chronicler lets us overhear Solomon’s quiet time. His prayer for wisdom and knowledge to be able to govern well is familiar, and it received divine approval. However, something is lacking from this prayer; it is a request for the skills required to rule, but there is no mention of qualities such as faithfulness and justice, which are so central to the traditions of biblical Israel. Can we detect here the indication of significant change and the small seeds of compromise that would eventually result in catastrophe?
Our suspicions are confirmed when the historian describes the militarization of the state: Solomon “accumulated chariots and horses” from Egypt, which were kept in “chariot cities” (14). Of course, it would be argued then, as it still is today, that those who hold power must defend their people and we should expect defense expenditure to rise, but the writer of Chronicles would have known that the Psalms contain statements such as “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psa. 20:7, Isa. 31:1). Those of us who belong to nations defended, not by horses and chariots but by weapons of mass destruction, can hardly criticize Solomon’s politics, but his inconsistencies, already visible in this chapter, must give us pause for thought.
Isaiah predicts that the nations will lay down their weapons, and he asks God’s people to “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isa. 2:4-5). What does that mean for you today?
Loving God, You call me though the multiplicity of decisions I have to make every day. Grant me Your wisdom in decision-making so that my life will make a difference for You.
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