Bonus Devotional for August 2016!
When Solomon becomes king, he realizes just how much wisdom he will need to be a good ruler. So in today’s text Solomon asks God for the wisdom to lead, and God gives Solomon his wish. But even with God’s gift of wisdom, Solomon still manages to make a lot of mistakes along the way. Later we will see Solomon lose his throne because of some very foolish decisions. But here at the very beginning we already see the first problems appearing. In chapter 1 Solomon starts stockpiling chariots and warhorses from Egypt, even though this goes against the law. And in chapter 2 we see an even worse problem.
Solomon wants to build a temple for God, something to show off God’s great glory. Solomon thinks this is a good idea, and he has good intentions. But the way he goes about it is not good at all. He conscripts over 150,000 men and forces them to do this hard building work. When most of the people in Israel are already poor and struggling to support their families, it was a terrible burden to be taken away from their farms and businesses and children and to be a forced to do extra work for the king. 1 Kings 5 tells us that this is how Solomon treated the Israelites, making them work just like Pharaoh had made them work in Egypt. But here in Chronicles the writer tries to protect Solomon by saying that the king only forced foreigners to work like this. But that hardly makes things any better! If Solomon is oppressing foreigners in the land, then he really is like Pharaoh!
Solomon wanted to do something great for God, and build a temple. But in Jesus, God comes and personally condemns the temple. What will happen to Solomon’s great temple? Not one stone will be left on top of another!
Today we also often want to do good things for God. But Solomon’s example reminds us to be careful in our actions and really examine what we are doing. In our passion to serve God, are we hurting or oppressing others? Are we making their lives miserable? If we are, then can we really say we are serving the great God of love?
Pastor Stephen Lakkis