2 Chronicles 8-9: True Success
July 16, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The chronicler lists Solomon’s extensive accomplishments in these two chapters. He is a “builder,” emphasized many times in chapter 8, who completed and finished the work that was given to him by God—building up, extending, magnifying and establishing Israel and Jerusalem, and especially the “house of the Lord.” The only hint that he is over-extending his reach is in his recruitment of “forced labor,” though the author is careful to note that this forced labor was not from the people of Israel themselves (8:7-8). That said, it seems apparent from the later tension that impacted Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, that Solomon had put his people under intense pressure to accomplish what he accomplished (10:4 and following).
Chapter 9 indicates Solomon’s other main, great achievements, namely that of wisdom and wealth. His wisdom is emphasized by the famous witness of the Queen of Sheba (9:1-12), and his wealth is described as almost unbelievably great (9:13-28). In summary, “Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom” (9:22).
Solomon’s compromise with foreign gods through his many marriages is not mentioned here—the chronicler seems concerned to emphasize his positive attributes to these forebears of Israel, to encourage them as they survey their responsibilities on the other side of exile. Perhaps we then, too, should look at Solomon, as well as David, while aware of their very real and serious failings, to learn still from their positive attributes, too.
For Solomon: the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7, 9:10). Let us, then, like Solomon, seek wisdom that is from above, which is first of all pure, then peaceable (James 3:17), and is founded upon honor, respect, and the fear of God himself. Such wisdom will lead us to the feet of Christ, who taught us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33), expressing that fear of God in the seeking of God’s kingdom as fulfilled in Christ himself. This wisdom will also lead us to live lives as “in the face of God,” or in Latin, “Coram Deo”—to live our lives as always in the very presence of God, to live our lives for him, conscious of his presence and his approval, knowing that to live in that way is the ultimate, and only true, wisdom.
Other accomplishments—wealth, building programs—are fine if they are given to us from God, and if they are used generously for the good of others in love and service of our neighbor. In other words, let us define success as pleasing God, or even better, define success as being faithful to God—and be content. Let us learn with Paul the secret of contentment (Phil. 4:12), that in Christ we can do everything (Phil. 4:13), knowing that his way is not ours (Is. 55:8), but his way will one day (if it has not been already) prove to be magnificently, gloriously, and satisfyingly best.
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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