Lecture 17: 1 & 2 Samuel; 1 Kings
Course: Old Testament Survey
Lecture: 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings
I. Saul Rejected As King
In 1 Samuel 15 there is the story of how Saul gets rejected as king and this is tied up with the fact that he has an opportunity to obey God relative to the Amalekites or not.
A. Verse 2, "The Lord Almighty says I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. So Saul, go attack the Amalekites. Totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Don't spare them; men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels, donkeys, etc." That is a holy war command. There is God speaking through a prophet saying, "Do this, you've got to do it," or speaking directly to Saul, but it says, "Samuel said to Saul, 'This is what the Lord Almighty says,'" so it is hard to doubt that it at least came first through Samuel. Here we have a clear command right from God through a prophet, in the formal instance at least, saying you have got to do this. The holy war terms are there. Total annihilation of the enemy has to happen.
B. What is so bad about the Amalekites one might ask?
1. And I just want to be sure you know that the Amalekites were Israel's first enemy. One kind of thinks of the Egyptians as the Israelites' first enemy because, of course, the Israelites were chased by the Egyptians. Once they had left Egypt then the Pharaoh changes his mind and sends the troops out and so on. What is important to appreciate is this: The Israelites did not have to fight the Egyptians ever. They really were not an army yet.
2. By just a matter of weeks later as they had come to Rephidim, which is right near Mount Sinai, almost at the base of Mount Sinai, then they did have to fight and this is their first battle. That battle is the one you know in which Moses had his hands up in the air and as long as he prayed, fine. He had his staff that he was holding too; that symbolized the presence of God among them, maybe, even the throne of God as it says at the end of chapter 17. Whenever he lowered that it was as if, of course, symbolically that God's presence was being diminished. Anyway the Amalekites attacked the Israelites who were not doing anything to them. There was not much reason. The Israelites were down at rather an isolated place in Mount Sinai but the Amalekites make the presumption that, "Hey, this is a territory that we wonder around in," the Amalekites were semi-nomadic, "and there is another group here. Let's get rid of them quick before they ruin the neighborhood." It was that kind of a mentality. Too many people moving in. "The potential is there so we have to act quickly to eradicate it." Thus God says, "Since that is what they tried to do, wipe out my people before they even got to Mount Sinai to become my people." That is the point. It would be like trying to beat somebody up on his way up to the front of the church to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. That is a bad thing to do. These Israelites are trying to get to Mount Sinai, they are almost there, they will become a people, receive God's law, understand how they can please him by offering sacrifices that symbolize the work of Christ, and that is terribly important for them to learn. That is desperate, that is going to be their salvation and these guys are trying to prevent it from happening. So God says, "They were just evil and selfish, put this in a book and be sure Joshua hears it so that after you ...", in other words, there is a succession, and Joshua, of course, made sure his successors heard it. "I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. They are a holy war enemy for me. Therefore, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." Deuteronomy, "Don't forget the Amalekites," like "Remember the Alamo." And Deuteronomy 25:19 further, "Blot them out."
C. It is just important to appreciate the fact that what Saul is to undertake comes with centuries of solemn command of God behind it and he still does not do it. That really does put the thing in prospective, I believe. It really helps you understand that it was not a case where he just forgot or said, "Yeah there was something about that but I have not seen that or heard about it." He knows exactly, precisely, he was brought up knowing that this is a thing that has to happen eventually, that the holy war of extermination against the Amalekites must occur and he will not do it. He is instead going to disappoint the Lord by bringing all these animals for sacrifice. So Samuel makes the powerful pronouncement in verse 22 and 23. "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Does the Lord delight in the fact that you are in the music team helping lead praise choruses? He does delight in it, but as much as he delights in your being an obedient servant who seeks him into your heart? Does the Lord delight in your serving on seven committees in the church as much as….. and so on? That is the principal. Is going through the motions the important thing or is it really seeking to please him? Does the Lord delight that you have twelve hundred people coming out to hear you preach on a Sunday as much as he delights that you just want to do his will wherever you can? That is the kind of questions this brings up. Anyway the rejection of Saul is surely built on a very prominent, long term, centuries old, original, basic, important assignment that he knowingly violates. That is what you need to get.
D. So what happens? That is a pretty big thing for a guy to do. That is a terrible, disgraceful disobedience. God then does the following: 1 Samuel 16:14, "The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul." And in the NIV it says, "And an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him." It has to its credit a footnote that says, "or injurious." I would say "injurious" should much more likely have been put in the main part of the text and the footnote say, "or evil." Here is why. The particular Hebrew word that is used is not the common word for evil. It rather is a word that tends to mean "bad, troublesome, harmful, negative," that sort of thing. If you just use a computer concordance and generate all the cases where this word is used you will see it talks about everything from bad weather to bad construction and so on. It is just like we use the word "bad." The only reason I think it is important to say that is that the minute you employ the word "evil" in modern English it tends to suggest actually sinful. This spirit comes from the Lord so it would raise needlessly in people's minds, as I think the NIV translation does, the possibility that there are actual sinful angels still in heaven that God is sending out to do things. "Send some of the sinful ones; it will make the place nicer while they are gone." That really is not what is happening.
Furthermore, just for the value of looking a little bit at the term that is used, it is an "evil spirit," that is what I would call an injurious or harmful or negative spirit, this really is quite a concept, this concept of "spirit." So I have just quickly put here that this word translated "spirit" is the Hebrew word ruah in Hebrew which sounds like you are trying to clear peanut butter from the roof of your mouth.
A. The meaning is, interestingly, "breath, wind or spirit." That we have in Ezekiel at one place and it can mean all of those and it does routinely. Like, by the way, its counterpart in Greek pneuma same rich range of meaning, "breath, wind, or spirit." Pneuma in Greek, Ruah in Hebrew, same meaning.
B. Holy Spirit
E. Sense, in other words, he came to his spirit, we would say he came to his senses.
F. Emptiness or nothingness like the wind.
G. Direction. God gave them a spirit to do so and so, a sense of direction.
H. The human spirit.
I. The mind, it is used that way.
J. One's disposition.
K. A mood or tendency, these are closely related obviously. Hosea 4, "A spirit of prostitution."
M. Often enough, as I think it is here, an angel. But one has to face the fact that it is conceivable and some commentators have argued that it is really an attitude. That is what he gives them. A mood, a tendency. So it is not an open and shut case that it would be an angel. That is important to appreciate. Are God's angels ministering spirits? Yes, they are. They are spiritual beings and can be called spirits. This is just an example of the way we have to be careful in translation. You have got a lot of possibilities and you have to think through what the options are. What I think is an unlikely option, that is my point here, is what it almost looks like it says in the text, and that is that there really are these true, evil beings in heaven who do not do what is right and God sends them out to do things like make Saul miserable. That seems to be very low on the likelihood list and one of these other options, either that it is an angel that will do harm. Can angels do harm? You bet! There is the angel of death that we observe operating, for example, in 2 Samuel 24 bringing about the plague that causes trouble for the Israelites when David sins in that story. Angels do many kinds of things. Christ talks about the angels separating the wheat from the tares at the judgment and casting the tares into the fire. These were angels that were doing things that were injurious to those who deserve to be injured. But that is an important distinction just so you will know because this behavior of Saul, which I regard as a kind of a paranoid behavior, a punishment that is given to him. Does it mean therefore that we should say, "All paranoid behavior is punishment for sin, any psychotic activity?" Of course not. The fact that it is so exceptionally stated here with this big story about the Spirit of the Lord doing this and all of that and the mention that is made of it suggests to us that it is unusual not usual for this kind of thing to happen. Can it happen? Yes. But should be regard all psychoses of any kind as evidence of sinfulness that God is punishing a person by having an angel give them grief, I certainly hope that we would not jump to that conclusion.
There is a wonderful story in 1 Samuel 21 about David at Nob where he eats the consecrated bread, the "showbread," the bread that is baked and placed symbolically before God on the altar and then eventually eaten by the priests. One can read that and just really not know much about it in the story in the first half of 1 Samuel but it has an interesting background. All I am trying to encourage here is that if you learn about these matters in, say Exodus and Leviticus, then you are not only learning about this passage, 1 Samuel 21, but you are even learning about something that you might preach or teach from in connection with the New Testament where Jesus justifies a special exemption that he uses as a sampling of why the Pharisees are misunderstanding the nature of holy things and are too legalistic. They are missing the boat of the purpose of all these things. If you are going to be legalistic you could not have happen what happened in 1 Samuel 21. I just wanted to demonstrate that Exodus 25 is the source of this holy bread, bread of the presence, showbread, consecrated bread, and that Leviticus even gives us details that there would be a total of twelve loaves, fresh each week, eaten by the priests, and that they constitute a holy share of offering food. In other words, you did not just bring a lamb or a goat kid. If you look at all that is said about sacrifices and offerings, it is actually all the different meal ingredients except for raspberry jello. There is no evidence of that in any of the passages. It is really amazing. There is oil, there is wine that is brought, there is grain and so on. So there are the ingredients for bread, a certain amount of salt and so on. All these kinds of things were involved. We tend to read and notice only the passages that talk about the main ingredient of the meal, that is the meat part, and not realize that there is all the rest of it including things like the showbread. Just a little detail to encourage you that if you pursue these kinds of things it can be surprising how much you can pick out.
IV. Witch of Endor
I want to go to near the end of 1 Samuel, chapter 28, and address comparably, briefly just a little bit about Saul and the "Witch of Endor." That is who she is usually called though I think that translation may be a little thin.
A. This is long after now, Samuel is dead. The Philistines are pressing, pressing, pressing hard and the Israelites are scared. Saul is afraid. He figures that he and the Israelites are likely to lose and he needs help. Who to turn to when you are really desperate? In his mind, if he could only talk to Samuel. Samuel always told him the truth even though it was hard. Samuel always was a fine, faithful, steady, open prophet of the Lord. If only he could.
B. So, sadly, he gets in mind that the way he could talk to somebody who is dead is to go through what is called in this passage a ba'alath 'ov. There is the word ba'alath that is the feminine of the word ba'al, owner or lord. In this case, in Hebrew, it is ba'alath 'ov, which means literally "a lady who owns a pit." You might say, "Well, wait a minute, what is that?" Here is the idea. There were thought to be connections to the underworld at certain kinds of rock fissures and caves that went down. In a way you could say, "Well, sure, look at Old Faithful when it suddenly blows up out of the earth or look when you have an earthquake, it is from way up deep or look at a volcano." People had a sense that there was stuff happening down there. They just believed this. So they believed that the underworld was down there with the people who had died and so Saul would believe--it is not a good belief but it is part of the corrupted belief that he was pray to unfortunately as were many other Israelites--he would believe that Samuel was down there. These ba'alath 'ov ladies, these pit ladies, were people who alleged that they could make contact with people down in there in the underworld and that these people since they were now at the next stage of life, of course, and greatly progressed. The next stage, even though you are in the "underworld," you just know so much more just as you know so much more when you are in this stage as opposed to when you were in your mother's womb. Boy is that a difference, you know a lot more and so in the next life you know a lot more. Even though you are not yet in the resurrection. They all believed in the resurrection but it had not happened yet but until that time they would know a lot. That is the mentality. These women, of course, were frauds. They could not anymore contact the underworld than Howdy Doody could but that is what they alleged. Surely they were phonies, but he goes to this woman and he says, "I have got to talk to Samuel." She says, "Well you know what Saul has done," not realizing that she is talking to Saul, "He has cut off the spirits. Have you set a trap?" "No," he says, "You won't be punished." She probably said that to everybody because she knew that her activity was technically illegal.
C. Then he says, "Bring up Samuel." Verse 12 says, "When the woman saw Samuel she cried out at the top of her voice, 'Why have you deceived me, you're Saul.'" that is because, of course, she did not really expect to see anything. She had her brother Norm somewhere. It is dark at night, they do this in a tent over the pit. Norm is over on the other side of the tent going, "Hello. Hi, I'm Samuel. Excuse me, I have a cold but what do you want to know?" It is trickery, it is fakery. But God intervenes and actually shows her a kind of image of Samuel. I think that is what we are to understand. I have not proved it to you just by saying it but that is what I really believe is going on. That is what makes her scream at the top of her lungs, she did not expect anything. It was deception that she was practicing. Through this means it is a little like the donkey of Balaam or other cases where God uses something to accomplish his purposes. It is the very opposite of what people think is going to happen.
D. Samuel just says, "Once again, the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands," verse 17, "and given it to one of your neighbors, to David." Saul was a Benjaminite. The next-door neighbor to the Benjaminites were the Judahites, that is it. David was from northern Judah, Saul was from southern Benjamin, they lived a few miles apart in actuality all their lives. It is not a good scene and it is the end of the story for Saul, he knows he cannot win. Samuel has said, "No, don't think that somehow God has forgotten your massive disobedience of a clear, clear command. That's it, you're out of the picture." Sadly then what Saul did was to violate some very basic laws that he himself had actually been enforcing at the time. "Do not practice augury or witchcraft. Do not turn to mediums or wizards." We would classify this woman in the category of a medium. "If a person turns to mediums and wizards playing the harlot after them (in other words that is a form of religious prostitution of infidelity), I'll set my face against that person and cut him off from his people and so on." Just a lot of verses that one could easily find in any concordance about the same topic.
V. Rebellion Against David
We have talked a little bit about the big sin in David's life, the case where he has Uriah killed and takes his wife Bathsheba to himself and the prophet comes to him and says, "The sword won't depart from your family because you have done that." That is judgment upon David. We have also talked about the fact that he was fantastically successful in military terms. There is even a list of his mighty men, his military commanders as one of the appendices to 2 Samuel. We have mentioned the fact that there were rebellions against him. And even rather base individuals could succeed in this. The big rebellion is that of his own son, Absalom. That is the big rebellion against him. But take a look at this one in 2 Samuel 20. "A troublemaker named Sheba, son of Bichri a Benjamite happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted, 'We have no share in David, no part in Jesse's son, everybody to his tent all Israel.'" That is a way of saying, "Let's get out of here and not cooperate." He calls the Israelites to just rebel against him. So it says, "All the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bichri but the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem." You can go on and read about that rebellion and how it finally gets crushed and so on but invariably it is David having the loyalty of Judah only and when a Judahite like his own son Absalom leads the rebellion against David it is then the only people that David has on his side are a few members of his family. Joab is, by the way, his nephew. His commander-in-chief, his military leader, who does so much for him, the one who kills Absalom and generally crushes the rebellions for David, Joab is his nephew. And David has, interestingly a little detail, three divisions. That word divisions much smaller thing, we might say three companies of what are called Pelethites and also Kerethites you might look at that and say, "What are those terms, Pelethites and Kerethites, I don't get that?" Those are Philistine tribes. In other words, you know how you have read as you prepared for tonight how David was involved with the Philistines and during the time he was away from Saul spent a certain amount of time as a mercenary in the employ of Achish, king of Gath. David then hired for himself some Philistine mercenaries, foreign mercenaries, as his personal bodyguard. Why would he do this? Let me give you some analogies. This actually is a time-honored thing. You know how the pope has a group of guards called the "Swiss Guards?" Why have Swiss guards? The answer is that the pope and many members of royalty have employed foreigners as their personal guards on the theory that the foreigners have no vested interest in taking control of the government. That they just are working for pay. You pay them real well and their only loyalty is to you because you pay them and they do not care one whit what happens. They do not have cousins and uncles telling them, "Come on we've got to depose of this guy." They are loyal to the king and the king only or the pope and the pope only. It does not matter what the local population thinks or what the relatives think or what the people in the area think or the natives of the land. You have these foreign mercenaries who are your personal guardians. In the Absalom rebellion it gets down to that level, some family members, some loyal Judahites and his foreign mercenaries. Of course, David has to run. What happens is then he sends back a counselor who advises, he claims to have turned against David and in favor of Absalom. He advises immediate pursuit, so of course that means Absalom has to run, not really gather a trained force and David's small group of professional soldiers led by Joab is able to work it out in such a way as they fight in the woods and they capture and then kill Absalom because, of course, he gets hung up by his hair which is the reason why you should always have short hair. It is just interesting that you see that because it does show you that David was terribly, terribly unpopular at times. That is not what prevented anything though in terms of God's plan. He can still be God's choice. Bear that in mind.
VI. The Census
At the end of his life David does an interesting thing. Turn to 2 Samuel 24. It starts by saying, "The anger of the Lord burned against Israel and he incited David against them." There is something here then that is a punishment. In other words, what you are being told is the next set of events describes something that David did as a punishment for himself and Israel. David may not have been thinking of it that way but that was what God was doing. So he actually put into David's mind the idea of taking a census. "So the king said to Joab," now here is Joab who has assassinated all kinds of people so far and been very bloodthirsty and not the greatest model, "Go throughout all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, enroll the fighting men. I want to know how many soldiers there are." And Joab says, "May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over. May the eyes of my lord the king see it but why does my lord want to do such a thing?" In other words, "Aw, you don't mean that. You don't want to do that do you?" So, what is the problem? David is just taking a census. Why is that so bad?
A. Let me try to demonstrate this very quickly by some references that we have here.
1. Exodus 30: When you take a census everybody has to pay the Lord a ransom for his life, "then no plague will come on them when you number them." Wow!
2. Exodus 38: "The silver obtained from those who were counted in the census," huge amount. All kinds of warnings about census.
3. Numbers 1:26: Big census reference in Numbers 1:26, those were done.
4. 2 Samuel 24:1: Then our passage talks about the anger of the Lord in connection with a census, that is the little tail end of our passage.
5. 2 Kings 12: The reign of Josiah, "Collect all the money from the sacred offerings and the census money."
6. 1 Chronicles 21:1: "As Satan rose up against incited David to take a census." It is that serious. Solomon took a census. Caesar Augustus took a census. There is a census mentioned during the days of Judas the Galilean. But in many of them there is some negative overtone. A lot of census passages have a negative overtone, a danger warning, the need to pay a ransom. What is happening? Let me try to explain it because otherwise the evidence is so scattered it can be easy to miss again.
B. A census was taken for only two purposes.
1. To produce new taxes. You want to find out who is who, who owns land where. Most censuses for the purpose of taxes were to tax people for property. That is why Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, they owned property there and that is why Jesus happened to be born there though he should have been born in Nazareth but God was behind the whole thing to get him born where it would not have been thought that he would have been born except that if you really knew the prophecies and you knew that he was the Messiah, then of course he has to be born there.
2. The other reason was for counting the troops. Why do you count troops? It is either for taxes or for going to war. It is because you are going to war, you are planning a war. It is the end of David's life. He has conquered the whole Promised Land. There are no pockets holding out against him. He has total control. It says that in several places. As you read 2 Samuel I am sure you noticed that. "The Lord gave David rest from all his enemies round about and so on and so on."
C. Why does he need to go to war again? The answer is because he is planning now, in all probability, an empire outside the limits of the Promised Land. It is the only conclusion anybody has drawn. As commentators have examined this they have said, "Well, here are the facts, it adds up." Why would David do this? There is a story about he has a plan to go beyond the conquest of the Promised Land. That, of course, cannot be approved holy war. You can only fight holy war for the taking and holding of the Promised Land. That is the essential thing about the holy war. So David is sinning and that is the reason for the warning. When you get an army together, you may not use it correctly. Not all battles are good. It is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous to assemble an army so you better pay a ransom because you have got to do this right or your lives are in danger. "I'll judge you," says the Lord. "If you don't fight a holy war, you'll be the enemy." Just as we talked about in the rules of holy war. The census ransom even relates to that in terms of the danger. What happens in this case is that David does number the fighting men. They do not get a chance to go out and capture any new territory because God stops them by a plague.
D. The nice thing is that the book we call 2 Samuel ends on a positive note because God is so good at turning a terrible situation of sin right around. What happens? David and the elders of Israel are praying for God to stop the plague and it stops right at the threshing floor of Araunah, a guy who lived in Jerusalem. Actually he is a local Canaanite guy. He is the one who owned that threshing floor. They saw people dying. You could just trace it. It was coming in a wave, slowly but surely, as time went by as people were getting sick and starting to cough and die and get fevers. But it stopped right there. So David said, "Well, why not build the temple here?" He said, "God has favored us and been merciful right in this location." And indeed that is exactly what does transpire. So out of this terrible motive comes the grace of God, built into the whole thing, God had it in mind all along and it will be in that location that Solomon, whom we now turn to, built the temple.
VII. Themes of 1 Kings
Themes of 1 Kings include a lot. I am going to quickly talk about a couple of them. We will come back to this because we only want to look at Solomon tonight. We want to just introduce 1 Kings with a quick look at Solomon, that is, the first eleven chapters. Some of the themes:
A. Importance of orthodox worship. Solomon will not be thoroughly orthodox. As we read from 1 Kings 11, he is going to blow it. He is going to actually introduce with government funding the worship of idols around Jerusalem. That is pretty sad.
B. No gift or status automatically keeps people away from apostasy. That is Solomon too. The guy has all the wisdom anybody could ever want. The wisest guy of his time and he still turns out to fall away from wholehearted faith in the Lord. So it has nothing to do even with such a gift as wisdom; the ability to make Godly choices. If you can have the gift to not use it, you are still in trouble.
C. The promises of God carried out even through rebellion. After Solomon's death rebellion is a huge theme. The splitting up of the nation, rebellion against Solomon's son and so on.
D. True unity by belief even though there was political division. There are bits and pieces of that. You can see that in the Elijah and Elisha stories and so on. Elijah and Elisha operate in Northern Israel where Baalism is rampant; the people do not have any sanctuary that is orthodox even to go to. It is like living in a place where there is no church or something. You can kind of give it that analogy. When people have shared, true beliefs there is a unity there that is more powerful even than political division.
E. Social oppression. When the kingship gets too powerful, the kings do what most powerful people do, they fall prey to temptation and use their power badly and, in this case, to suppress the poorer people. We see a lot of that going on. Watch for that in 1 and 2 Kings.
F. The power of the king to influence religion. What does Solomon do? He is really the "head of the church." As the queen of England is the head of the church in that sense. Solomon builds the temple, appoints priests, and so on. This is a very significant development; the kingship leading the national religion.
G. But, lots of religious and political instability especially after Solomon's death.
H. A lone true prophet against a host of false ones. That is the story of Elijah. We will not deal with that tonight, yet.
I. Passing on the prophetic office. That is Elijah to Elisha.
J. Degeneration by fascination with things new and foreign. It happened to Solomon especially, 1 Kings 3 and 1 Kings 11. New and foreign and he was enamored of it.
K. Miracles as confirmation of divine truth. That is the case in the end of 2 Samuel, the miracle of the stopping of the plague, the miracle stories that attend Elisha as he builds back orthodoxy in a nation that had virtually abandoned it and so on. These are great themes that one can find.
Just a couple of comments about Solomon.
A. He is, to some degree, the fulfillment of a number of warnings in the Pentateuch. We have especially in Deuteronomy 17, and that is where all these are taken from, the law on kingship. What does it say? It says, "Be really careful, I am going to give you a king but be sure it is my choice, not yours." That is the key. This is the same thing with choosing a pastor of a church, with choosing deacons, elders, with choosing a spouse. "Be sure it is my choice," says the Lord, "not yours." And most people have no concept of that. What do you mean God's choice? How does that work? They do not know how it works that God chooses. This can be a great part of what you help people understand. Look at the warning in 17:16, "The king must not multiply horses or cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses." Solomon did both. If you read those stories, Solomon had more and more horses and large numbers of horses and chariots, the very thing that is warned against. Where did he get them? He got them in Egypt, he married the daughter of Pharaoh, they had a nice arrangement there, very close connection. Verse 17, "He shouldn't multiply wives for himself." Did anybody miss as you read for tonight that Solomon multiplied wives for himself? Anybody miss that? Because they will turn his heart away. Nor shall he multiply for himself silver and gold. Did anybody miss the fact that that is what he did? Now it is not that God was not blessing him. God is the source of all wealth, of all anything. It is God's world, he created it, he made it happen, so any good thing comes from God. All abundance is his mercy. But what Solomon did was build it up instead of using it only generously for the people he built it up for himself. The rest of that is just there from Deuteronomy 17.
B. To me one of the most telling lines in all of the stories about Solomon is right at the conclusion of the very wonderful story about building the temple because there is much good in that. Even though Solomon had some real serious flaws, God certainly used him and the temple was a good thing not a bad thing, a house that symbolizes the presence of God among his people. That is a good thing.
C. Look at the end of 1 Kings 6 and the beginning of 1 Kings 7. Very last sentence in 1 Kings 6 in reference to the temple, "He had spent seven years building it." And then 1 Kings 7, "It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace." Do you get it? Do you get what the writer is saying? Of all the zillions of things he or she could have said, that stands out to you. You are supposed to get the fact that his priorities were more self-centered than they were on the Lord, sadly enough. Was he all bad? No. Did he accomplish a lot of good? Sure, but you need to see that unfortunately on either side of David were people who were not people after God's own heart as of course it says it openly in 1 Kings 11. The last thing that I just want to show you relates to 1 Kings 11 where Solomon is kind of summarized.
D. It points out that he loved these other foreign women and he began to worship other gods. In particular it says in 1 Kings 11:5, "He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites."
IX. The Baals and Ashtoreths
I have not got a little projection here on Molech per say, we may have a chance to talk about him further, but here is one on Ashtoreth. I put her along with Baal because to see them both really helps you to understand what is going on. I just want to teach you a little Canaanite theology. We are going to end our class tonight with a primer in Canaanite theology.
A. If we lived in the ancient Israelite times and if we saw Solomon doing it and said, "Ah, looks good. Might be something to it." How would we be thinking about Baal? If we went to basic classes to join a Baal temple, what would they teach us? What is in the membership class?
1. First of all we are going to learn that he is a local deity who manifests himself in various ways.
2. That he means "lord" or "owner," also "husband" in Canaanite, which Hebrew is a branch of.
3. That he is often mentioned in the plural because the various Baals were his various manifestations. Each one was a little different. There were Baals who were good at this kind of crop and Baals good at that kind of crop and Baals at this location. Very interesting how they did that. You might say, "Well that is not logical. How can he be one and many at the same time?" They did not worry about that.
4. He is called, actually, the "cloud rider." That is one of his terms that is used because, of course, he is ultimately a weather god. That is ultimately who he is, a specialist in the elements, the control of weather.
5. So he is depicted as riding on the clouds. We have even a statue of him holding a lightening bolt on this cloud.
6. Thus the weather is his thing.
7. Well, if you can control the weather you can control fertility of all living things because the have all got to have rain. The weather is essential for everything to grow and that makes him the god that you appeal to if you want any material thing. It all somehow relates to in those days where everybody was a farmer, it is the agrarian world, he is it.
B. Who is Ashtoreth?
1. His girlfriend,
2. A sacred prostitute,
3. Depicted usually naked and/or looking out a window as prostitutes did, sit thinly clad at a window saying, "Hello."
4. So she is like Asherah but she was actually widely worshipped all over the Mediterranean world.
5. Her name also in the plural often.
6. Always fertility overtones. That is what Solomon is getting the people into. It is a real shame. It is sad to see it but unfortunately we are going to see much more of it as we go further along in 1 and 2 Kings.
That wraps it up, let's close in prayer. Thank you Father that your Word is so rich and the fact that we can do it so little justice in any of these classed, indeed, in all our study is in some ways a comfort. Because it means there is always so much more there to learn and gain from our lives long. But we pray that we may at least fairly and clearly and as appropriately as possible see the big picture, the important themes, and that we will always see the three levels of each story. That individual story in its broader context and within the wonderful story of the redemption of Christ. We thank you for the chance to see it that way. In his name, Amen.