1 KINGS 11:1-12:19 | ACTS 9:1-25 | PSALM 131:1-3 | PROVERBS 17:4-5
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In his latter years, the contrast between Solomon and his father David is quite remarkable. While David had momentary lapses of reason in his youth, he repented and recovered from them, and as he grew older, he became dedicated in his vision of God’s commandments.
Solomon, on the other hand, appears to have an exemplary reputation in his youth for following God’s commands and in being upright in all his doings, and yet, in his old age, he begins to turn away from God.
The number of wives and concubines that Solomon has is quite mind-boggling: seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines is what the text tells us. Many of these women were from neighboring kingdoms that did not worship Yahweh, the God of Israel. And so, what happens is exactly what God warns him will happen: the most horrific and detestable thing of all—turning to these other gods and building altars and temples of worship for them.
And so begins the unraveling of the kingdom of Israel under King Solomon. There are adversaries that slowly but surely rise up to challenge the Hebrew kingdom. Hadad, Rezon and Jeroboam are some of the men identified as Solomon’s adversaries. This last one will soon be a man to be reckoned with, but before that, we must close the story on Solomon.
It is said that King Solomon reigned for forty years before he breathed his last, and then his son Rehoboam succeeded him on the throne. But Rehoboam’s reign was short-lived because upon taking charge of the kingdom, Rehoboam willfully chose not to heed the advice of the elders in the kingdom, but rather made old wounds fresh. This resulted in open rebellion, and soon there was anarchy in the kingdom. It is to be seen how this will all turn out.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Acts, we encounter the amazing story of Saul of Tarsus. Saul, the zealot, was such a circumspect Jew who awaited the return of the Messiah so fervently, that he took strong exception to the teachings and preachings of men such as Peter, John, Philip and the others—disciples of Jesus—who were presenting Jesus as the Messiah– who had already come and gone.
Saul was therefore on a mission to silence these heretics, and he was therefore becoming known for persecuting these early Christians.
Well, one day, on the way to Damascus, the hunter becomes the hunted– isn’t it strange how these things go? Saul is blinded and falls to the ground. He asks plaintively, “Who are you, Lord?” to which a voice answers: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
And this is the beginning of the metamorphosis of Saul. Saul does go into the city, and after the spell of blindness that lasts three days, his sight is miraculously restored to him through the meeting with Ananias, a local man who receives a vision to seek out this man called Saul.
Ananias is instructed thus: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Saul is indeed transformed and becomes one just like the disciples in preaching loud and clear the gospel of Jesus Christ, viz. that Jesus is the Messiah who had come not just for the Jews but for everyone who believes in him.
But the devout Jews do not like what they hear and are shocked to see one of their own cross over to the other side! Now, it is Saul that they pursue in order to silence him once and for all. But that will not happen for a while. This was only the beginning of the ministry of the man who would later become known as Paul.
Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find the first three verses of Psalm 131 in which David, the psalmist, adopts a hopeful tone of contentment and assurance in the mercies of God. Would that we might also learn to speak in the same manner of dependence on God’s provision in our lives:
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs that may seem like it is stating an obvious truth, and yet, it would do us well to be reminded of it:
5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.