Wednesday, December 17, 2008

solomon was an arms dealer

“They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.” – 1 Ki 10:29

God promised David that his son would rule forever – that through his son righteousness and peace would come to Israel. People had great expectations for the “son of David.” And so when Solomon became Israel’s king, all eyes were on him. Would he be the one? Would righteousness and peace meet together in Solomon’s rule? After all, Solomon was a son of David.

At first, things looked hopeful. Solomon asked God for wisdom to rule well. But it didn’t last – things went bad pretty quickly. You see, Solomon was the king of a people that God had brought out of slavery. And yet, Solomon used slaves to build an elaborate palace. Solomon was the king of a people whose # 1 commandment was to worship God alone. And yet, Solomon’s “heart was not true to the Lord his God” (1 Ki 11:4). Solomon’s people had watched their God destroy Pharaoh’s horses and chariots. And yet, Solomon collected for himself 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses (1 Ki 10:26). Was Solomon the one? Would righteousness and peace meet together in Solomon’s rule? After all, Solomon was a son of David.

No. Solomon was not the one. In fact, Solomon didn’t just exploit his power, worship other gods, and rely on his army. Solomon took it a step further. He became an international arms dealer. He imported and exported horses and chariots – the ancient equivalent of tanks, guns, and bombs. Solomon discovered that war was profitable – that his horses and chariots could bring him wealth. And what’s more, he imported them from Egypt! The land of slavery and death. And he brought them to Jerusalem – the great city of the Lord. It’s impossible to capture the tragic irony of Solomon’s waywardness.

Solomon was a son of David. But he wasn’t the Son of David.

In Advent, we prepare again for the coming of the Son of David – Jesus the Christ. In him, “righteousness and peace kiss one another” (Ps 85:10). This son of David didn’t own slaves. He became one. This son of David’s heart didn’t turn to other gods. He became obedient to the point of death on a cross. This son of David didn’t commit himself to the way of war. He beats swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Mic 4:3).

FOR TODAY: When the Son of David returns to rule this earth, there will be no more violence and war. Righteousness and peace will meet together in Jesus’ rule. Ponder what this means to you – for your individual life with God, but also for the world. Given the reality of God’s future, what sort of people ought we to be in the present?

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