1 Kings 9-10: Treasure in Heaven
June 6, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
At the moment of highest success, God appears again to Solomon for the second time (9:2). And this time God’s word to Solomon is both affirming and warning (9:3-9). The continued blessing of God towards Solomon, his heirs, the temple he has built, is a conditional promise based upon Solomon’s ongoing obedience, and that of his children too. “But if you turn aside from following me…” (9:6), God says—there is a warning, a warning that Solomon and many, if not all of his children, evidently failed to heed. While our salvation is entirely of grace, such salvation must evidence itself in true faithfulness to God. A man who worships other gods of stock and tone, of money and sensuality and personal vain ambition, is proving that he is not truly following God after all. “Choose this day,” as Joshua said much earlier in Israel’s history, “whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15).
The beginning of strange bitterness can be seen in germinal form there following. Hiram, who has been so loyal to Solomon, and who has been such a faithful ally, appears to be given cities that are far below the expected quality (9:13). Solomon seems to get away with this mean and cheap payment, but it is a selfishness that does not ring true, nor is likely to be fruitful for this relationship with Hiram long term, or for any others either. There is also “forced labor” (9:15-21), not something best suited to win the hearts and minds of people. There is Pharaoh’s daughter, a worshipper of a different god, who earmarks her own palace in the midst of the splendor intended to be dedicated to Yahweh (9:24). No one knows for sure what the “Millo” was, but it appears, some say, to have been a part of the city that the king was intended to maintain, and if not maintained (“millo” literally meaning a “landfill”), problems would come to the less princely parts of the city. Is it accidental that it is only after all these other institutions are built that attention is given to this “Millo”? Still Solomon is trading, with his newly constructed merchant navy, and making enormous amounts of money as he trades (9:26-28)—the extent of which will be celebrated in a moment.
Meanwhile along comes the famous Queen of Sheba (10:1-13), from South Arabia in all likelihood. She has heard of Solomon’s wisdom, and she wants to find out for herself if truth be told about Solomon’s greatness (10:1). She tells him everything on her mind, asks all her questions, and Solomon has a ready answer to it all (10:2-3). She looks around and sees his wise management of all things, and she is “breathless” (10:5)—it’s almost too amazing, too good to be true, and yet it is true.
Vast amounts of wealth come to Solomon. 666 talents of gold in one year (10:14), an individual talent being about 75 pounds. This is enormous financial success. The economy is booming. Solomon is a global superstar (10:24). Nothing could go wrong. Or could it?
Proverbs 30:8 comes to mind: “give me neither poverty nor riches.” There are dangers at either extreme. The one can tempt us to bitterness towards God; the other can tempt us towards abandoning God out of pride. The latter was Solomon’s temptation. And chapter 11 will unfold that part of the story. If you have been blessed with great wealth, hold it in open hands. The only safe way to have riches is to be a dispenser of resources for the growth of the kingdom. Utilize your resources for the good of Christ and his work. Or as Jesus put it, invest your treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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