A Lamp in Jerusalem

imagesToday’s faithful daily read in from 1 Kings 11 and James 1:12-18.

‘Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord’  Could there be any more disappointing words in the story of Kings than verse 6.

God had taken the shepherd boy to the throne and established his line forever. Out of David’s line would come the Messiah King. David had secured the borders and brought peace to the land. Even after his moral failure, God still would fulfil his promise. Solomon  inherits a prosperous kingdom with a bright future. Jerusalem is the city on the hill lit up for the world to see. And so Solomon builds the long awaited temple for God.

God gives him an incredible gift of wisdom and the world rulers beat a path to Jerusalem. At this point Deuteronomy 4 seems to be coming true…

this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”  What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” Deut 4:6-7

Jerusalem was a beacon to the world. But then we learn that Solomon hadn’t read Deuteronomy very carefully afterall…

“The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”  He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold” Deut 17:16-17

Solomon takes many wives who turn his heart to other gods. Solomon makes political alliance through marriage with Pharoah. Just as Sampson was given a divine gift of strength squandered it in lust for weakness, so Solomon was given a divine gift of wisdom and squandered it in lust for foolishness.

“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” 1 Kings 11:9

God will not stand for pride and the idol of self glory, and the verdict was handed down through the prophet—the kingdom would be divided in two! The consequence for Solomon’s pride was that the lights would go out in the great kingdom. Except that God would leave one lamp burning,

“I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name”

That lamp is ultimately the hope of the Messiah King Jesus who would arrive one day as the perfect king.

In James 1:12-15 we see how sin works,

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” James 1:13-15

This is the way sin worked in David’s life. This is the way sin worked in Solomon’s life.

Perhaps we are too quick to blame the devil when we sin—we can play the victim card, ‘what chance did I stand against the wiles of Satan?’ we protest. However, here James tells us that more often than not we are dragged away not by the devil and some conspiracy of evil but by our own evil desires. Sin is like unchecked lust that conceives a child. The child sin grows up to give birth to its own child—death.

Today we pray that we would receive the good and perfect gifts that God gives us with thankfulness and humility.

Today we pray to resist the deception that the gifts we have are from ourselves.

Today we pray to resist our own evil desires.

Today we give thanks that we are forgiven in Jesus — the lamp of Jerusalem, the perfect king.