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The Bible In A Year: Day 140

1 Kings 2:13-3:28
Song of Solomon 7
Acts 22

1 Kings 2:13-3:28

As Solomon is beginning his reign his brother comes and asks a favor of Bathsheba. He asks that Solomon grant a certain woman to be his wife, and when she brings the request to Solomon he is not pleased and sees an attempt to undermine his authority because his older brother had already been lining up supporters and now was getting Bathsheba to unknowingly help him too. It seems like a harsh punishment, but Adonijah has already proven he’s willing to undermine his brother’s authority and will do what he needs to do to make sure he’s seated on the throne. Solomon promised he’d be safe as long as he lived as an upright man, but he sees this as a backhanded power play and so has him put to death.

After his brother Adonijah’s death, Solomon turns his attention to the two men who were co-conspirators with his brother. Apparently they’d been given something of a reprieve from punishment after they crowned Adonijah in violation of David’s wishes, but now they payment for their actions was due. First was the priest Abiathar, who is not slain because Solomon does not want to kill a priest and because of the assistance he provided for his father during Absalom’s rebellion, but Joab doesn’t get exile as an option and when he runs to the tabernacle and tries to claim sanctuary he is killed in the tabernacle.

Solomon also deals with the Benjaminite who had cursed his father. David had promised to not put Shimei to death, but now David is gone and his son makes a new deal. He tells Shimei to move into Jerusalem so that he can keep an eye on him, and as long as he stays in the city he’ll remain untouched, but the moment he leaves his deal is dead. After three years he either forgot the terms of his deal, or just didn’t think Solomon would follow through, and so he left for a few days to retrieve a runaway slave. When he returned Solomon told him he’d messed up and carried out his sentence of death.

Solomon goes off to his preferred sacrificial site and stays overnight. When he’s sleeping he has a dream where God appears and offers to give him anything that he asks for. Solomon asks for wisdom so that he can faithfully perform the duties of king, and because he asks for something so selfless and not things like gold and fame, God gives him wisdom and riches and honor.

By the time we get to the end of Solomon’s story though, it can be a little disheartening to see what becomes of the wisest person to ever live. If Solomon couldn’t avoid the pitfalls and traps laid by the world, the devil and the flesh, then how can we? That is one way to look at it.

Another way is to remember that even the greatest wisdom of man is no comparison to the wisdom of God. And we, by virtue of our baptism, have the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit at our disposal. So if we rely on God’s help and God’s wisdom instead of our own, then we don’t need to be as wise as Solomon to avoid the snares and traps of this life.

Then we come to the famous story of Solomon splitting the baby. He used such a ridiculous solution to sniff out who was lying. It’s not something I would’ve thought of, but Solomon’s fame as a wise judge spread after this.

Acts 22

This chapter picks up in the speech that Paul was about to deliver at the end of 21. We have to always keep in mind that the concept of chapters and verses are a more recent development (around 800 or so years old) and the books of the Bible were all written without them. So the break between 21 and 22 here is artificial and in a strange location. All that to say that Paul launches into a defense of what he’s been doing, and that takes up the majority of this chapter.

Paul addresses the crowd in their own language, probably Aramaic, and that settles them a little. He starts with his biography to build his bona fides as a fellow Jew and observer of the law, he even name drops his former teacher, the famous Gamaliel. He tells about his persecution of the Christians and how he was on his way to gather up more when he was struck by a vision of Christ.

He continues his story up through his return to Jerusalem and his turning to the gentiles to preach the good news to them. That’s is the point where the crowd is no longer interested. They get riled up again and begin calling for his death. Often times people get the most angry at the parts of the preaching that they need to hear the most. Happened in Paul’s day, and happens still today. We have to be reachable and teachable, especially when our priests are giving a homily on maybe a hot button issue. Instead of flying off the handle and getting upset, maybe we should take a beat and say to ourselves “do I need to hear this? Is God trying to tell me something through the ministry of this priest?” It may make a big difference.

When the soldiers take him into the fortress and are about to interrogate him while flogging him, he calls out that he’s a citizen and hasn’t been convicted of anything. Roman citizen retained certain rights and one of them was they couldn’t be subjected to extrajudicial punishments. Paul pulls this citizenship card several times, and it usually serves him well.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
1 Kings 4-5
Song of Solomon 8
Acts 23

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