Bible Experiment I Kings

Bible Experiment I Kings
Wherein I unwittingly assigned myself more work than humanly wise to accomplish in much too short a period. This effort began with me reading the pontifications of an athiest who had decided to read every book of the Bible and comment a 1000 words on each. Figuring I wasn’t to be outdone… I’d give it a shot. So far I haven’t passed him up – he ended his attempt at Haggai, but I also see how hard it is to do. The reading is easy. The grappling with it and resolving it in your head is hard. Can’t imagine someone doing it who didn’t buy any of what it was selling. Anyway, if you want to join us at the beginning, you can do so here.


Quick Overview of I Kings –

First Kings is all about David’s successor Solomon and the problems he faced becoming King, and the troubles he faced throughout his reign. Solomon was the last king of Israel before the kingdom split into northern and southern tribes and the conversation of I Kings would be accurately stated by watching this comment from David playing out:

‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Solomon starts out walking closely with God, impressively so even. God grants him wisdom in his kingship because of his faithfulness to God. But ultimately Solomon wipes out terribly, completely run off the rails by his weaknesses with women. And then the end of the book is all about the chaos and turmoil in Israel after Solomon’s death. But, as it has since the beginning, we will see that all of this turmoil and chaos is caused by man’s inability to walk closely  with God as David said above. And maybe there is something here for us to learn about “watching how we live”, and by “walking faithfully before God with all our hearts and souls…” But I am getting ahead of myself once again.

I Kings – The Forest For The Trees

As First Kings opens we see that David is old. Old old. Can’t regulate his temperature old. (Can you say Abishag anyone? The world’s first human hot water bottle in beautiful virgin form?) And then comes Adonijah who decided to put himself forward as King. He marshaled all of David’s sons (minus Solomon that is) and got their support and basically declares himself the King of Israel. Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba (you remember her from last time, right?) step in orchestrate the information getting to David and then David declares Solomon King. Adonijah FLIPS completely out and is stressed for his life.  Which was reasonable for him to do apparently. He threatened his kingship – so yeah, reasonably, Solomon probably should have had him killed. But instead Solomon says that if he showed himself to be worthy, not a hair on his head would be hurt. But, if evil is found in him, he would die. Which, is a fascinating picture of grace that wasn’t necessary. Solomon had the right to have the guy strung up by his entrails. And it was gracious, right up until Adonijah asks for Abishag for his wife. Solomon goes completely ape at that point and has the guy put to death.

Why? Why would Solomon go nuts about Adonijah asking Bathseba for Abishag’s hand in marriage? Well, seeing as though Abishag was a member of King David’s harem, it was most likely a play for the Kingdom in a more round about way. Whoever had the previous King’s wife had a legitimate play for the throne. So Solomon realized the direction Adonijah was going. What is weird is that Bathseba even brought the request to her son. What was she thinking? Here’s another interesting little tidbit about the beautiful Abishag, she might possibly have been the woman referred to in Solomon’s Song of Solomon.  About all we know about the woman the Song of Solomon was that she was that the Bible simply calls her ‘the Shulamite’. Abishag?

Solomon apparently was killing it as king of Israel – because when we get to chapter 3 he makes an alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt and marries his daughter. “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David.” And it was about that time that the Lord appeared to Solomon and offered him anything he wanted, and Solomon’s response was, “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Which apparently was a bonus round answer as far as God was concerned, for not only did God answer his request, but he also made him the richest man to ever live.  “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”

The Preparation for the Temple

“King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel—thirty thousand men. He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workers. At the king’s command they removed from the quarry large blocks of high-grade stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.”

This must have been one massive temple.


And we really should pause and see this for the true highlight of the Jewish people that it is. Hundreds of years after finally obtaining the promised land they are able to begin building the temple that they had desired. Solomon finally has achieved peace on all sides as a result of his father’s leadership in battle. Finally the nation is able to concentrate on this massive undertaking. Seven years later, the job is done.

If we look at 1 Chronicles 9 we see that they used 3,000 talents of gold from David’s treasury, or 225,000 pounds of gold. Converting that, roughly (because I really don’t know what I’m doing), I’m guessing that the value of the gold alone would be worth something like 12 billion dollars in todays’ gold value. Twelve. Billion. Dollars. And that’s just the value of the gold. Silver value would be something like 135 million. Which isn’t exactly sneeze worthy. Personally, I think that much gold and silver would have looked a little too pimped out for my tastes, but no one asked me. hahaha.

The Long Descent 

As we come to chapter eleven we see the downward spiral of Solomon unfold before us. Let me see if I can give you the first few verses in my own Taylor Holmes Translation:

“Sadly… King Solomon didn’t just love Pharaoh’s daughter – he also loved a whole lot of other women. What other women you ask? Good of you to be curious. Well, there were Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. That’s all. But Solomon knew that the Lord had said to all Israelites, “Don’t marry from other nations because then they will turn your head to fall in love with other gods, and that would be bad. But even so, Solomon was steadfast in his love for all these women.  Check this out, the guy had seven hundred wives. Yes, that is correct, you didn’t translate that incorrectly.  700 of royal birth. Oh, oh, he also had three hundred concubines… and with that many foreign wives, the dude was completely bound to wander away from his one true love.”

I think I got that pretty close. It was a train wreck. An absolute train wreck. He just loved the women way way too much. And while I’ll never have a second wife, or have an affair… I can see myself wandering off into pornography or off into betrayals of the mind. I get that. I think all men can grapple with that issue. Because if we fast forward to Christ, and His commentary on the scriptures, he took the whole adultery thing another step further in Matthew 5:28:

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Right? So all of you guys out there reading this completely bashing on Solomon – how many women have you had an adulterous affair with based on these standards? Right. Stone, glass house, glass house… stone. And so we see God promise to tear away Solomon’s kingdom from him. Not during his lifetime, but during his son’s lifetime. Rehoboam. Heard of him? Nah, me either. But apparently he was Solomon’s son and he was at the switch when the kingdom of Israel broke apart because of his decision to continue taxing the people outrageous sums of money. And as I Kings continues that is basically the course of events for the backend of that book.

Pretty sad demise of a guy who actually did a great job listening to God in his younger years. So the question for me, and my life is, what am I doing to continue walking with my one true love? How am I actively diving into God as opposed to playing it fast and loose? Am I looking for ways to kill the foreign gods in my life? Or am I allowing the comforts and the gorgeous women in my life to accrete over time? Do I only think about what I want? Or what God wants? Solomon was wise, but he wasn’t wise enough to deal with the guiles of over 1000 women in his life. No man is. Have I begun to think myself way way too big for my own britches?

I hope not. I hope you haven’t either… See you next time with II Kings where the saga of Israel’s spiral continues.