I have always been amazed at Solomon. What a contradiction he is!
In our reading today we are at the end of Solomon’s life. We can see from the reading that he was wealthy beyond imagining! But in what state did he leave the kingdom for his son?
As Solomon began his kingship, he made a promising start. When God allowed him to ask for whatever he wanted (1Kings 3) Solomon replied that he wanted a discerning heart. Because of this he became internationally renowned for his wisdom.
We know from the book of Ecclesiastes that he had tried all that could be tried yet he concluded “It doesn’t have any meaning. It’s like chasing the wind.”
In his excess, Solomon did not heed God’s warning (1 Kings 11:2) and his many wives did turn his heart away from God. This was a sad end for a wise man who set aside his wisdom in favour of his passions.
God’s verdict was this:
Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.
1 Kings 11:11
Even though he had been granted great wisdom by God, Solomon makes a dumb choice and the golden era of the united Israel is over.
Our New Testament reading is quite a different kind of contradiction.
Jesus is turning the world upside down for his hearers.
Can you imagine what the crowd might have been thinking as they sat and listened? “Blessed are the – who did you say Jesus? The meek? They will inherit the earth?”
“Surely you mean the ‘strong and merciless’ Jesus? Surely the strong arm of the Lord will give us victory over our oppressors!”
Somehow I don’t think words like “meek”, “merciful” and “peacemakers” were what they were expecting.
What a note to finish on in verses 11-12:
“Blessed are you when others revile and persecute you…”
But of course Jesus is just warming up. He undoubtedly appeared as a contradiction to them as they tried to work out who he was. Certainly this wasn’t the great warrior Messiah who would free them from the Romans!
As his famous sermon on the mount continues, he gets to the heart of the matter. He did not want disciples that continued to live to the letter of the law but rather disciples whose hearts were tuned to loving God and loving neighbour.