Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"O how we need a Savior ... AND a King!"

Day #76

Scripture Reading:  I Kings 10 - 13 ...

He was perhaps the wisest king this world has ever known, and yet he made the most foolish mistake anyone could ever make ... he allowed himself to be distracted by the impulses, desires, distractions and temptations of the world around him.  Solomon's belief in the God of his fathers was firm.  God appeared to him on two separate occasions and blessed him beyond human possibility.  He had fame, power and wealth ... inevitably a deadly combination that has caused lesser men to stumble.  But this was Solomon, David's son.  How could a man fall from such spiritual heights?  Because he was human.  Solomon was, like his father before him, and his father before him, a sinner in need of redemption.

God had kept His promise to Abraham and had made of his descendants a great nation.  He had kept His promise to deliver them from their slavery in a foreign land and to bring them into "a land flowing with milk and honey."  All that He had said He would do, God had done.  The Queen of Sheba testified to Solomon's wisdom and wealth and gave praise to God, from whom it all came:  "Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel.  Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, He has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness" (10:9).

She was right!  Solomon had been placed on the throne to rule on God's behalf.  GOD was the real King of Israel, and the building of the temple made that fact clear.  The kings, like the people, were dependent upon God's blessing in order to maintain their rule and for prosperity to come.  It was and is God who sets kings and rulers in place and establishes them for His own purposes.  The record shows that "Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom GOD had put in his heart" (10:23-24).

Then we read, "King Solomon, HOWEVER, loved many foreign wives ..." (11:1).  God had told Israel NOT to intermarry with the nations, "because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods" (11:2). Yet Solomon had 700 wives of noble birth and 300 concubines ... "and his wives led him astray.  As Solomon grew old his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (11:3-4).  What a sad commentary.  And the result was predictable:  God became angry with Solomon and determined to take the kingdom from him.  He would continue to reign over all of Israel, but God would tear away most of the kingdom - ten tribes - from his son, Rehoboam.

Even in this, God revealed His grace and His commitment to keep HIS promises.  God said, "Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen" (11:13).  God NEVER forgets a promise, and in spite of the failures of men, HE is always faithful!

The prophecy would come true in a short time as Jereboam was raised up to be king over the ten tribes of Israel, while Judah and Benjamin were left to David's house.  Once again God says, "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" (11:36).  "I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever!" (11:39).  God was not finished with the descendants of David, for He had promised that ONE from David's line would sit on David's throne … in Jerusalem … FOREVER!!

Rehoboam, Solomon's son, reigned after Solomon.  He did not have the wisdom of his father and when the people asked for relief from the heavy burden of taxes Solomon had put on them, Rehoboam asked for the advice first of the elders of Israel, then from his young friends.  The elders advised, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants" (12:7).  Rehoboam's friends advised against such an approach and Rehoboam made the burden of the people greater rather than lesser.  The people, predictably, rebelled, but all of this was "to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jereboam" (12:15).

Some might ask, "Why would a king serve the people?"  But there WOULD BE such a King!  "For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  The failure of Solomon and his son displayed the utter hopelessness of mankind's sinful condition.  Even with the blessing of God and the guidance of God, they failed to do what the Queen of Sheba understood God wanted His kings to do:  "to maintain justice and righteousness" (10:9).  Jesus came to do exactly that!  And He would accomplish all that God sent Him to do.

The line of David would continue on the throne of Judah, as God had promised, until Jesus came.  Israel would have many different kings from different lines, but Judah would have kings from only ONE line … from the line of David.  And finally, HE would come to whom the throne belongs!  The beauty of God's plan is revealed in the continuity of David's line and in the lineage of Jesus revealed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.  And Jesus had another lineage.  He was not only the son of David … He was and is the Son of God!

THIS is the King the world awaits as you read these words.  He is the ONLY King who is wise enough and powerful enough to accomplish all that God has promised to those who confess Him as Lord and submit to His reign.  To believe in Jesus as Savior is to understand that He is King over ALL the nations, and one day soon He will reign!

We need not only a Savior, but also a King!  And God has provided the best:  His own Son!  As in the days of Israel the nations rage and plot against the Lord and against His anointed One (Psalm 2:1-2), but God says, "I have installed MY King on Zion, my holy hill" (Psalm 2:6).  "Blessed are all who take refuge in HIM!" (Psalm 2:12).

"Almighty and everlasting God, my Father in heaven, I praise You for establishing Your covenant with Abraham and his descendants and for bringing the King from David's line, Who will rule over all the world when He returns to rule on His throne in Jerusalem!  I thank You for Your Spirit, Who has moved me to confess Jesus Christ as my Savior AND my King, the Lord of my life.  To You be glory, now and forever, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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