Wisdom, Please!

My plate holds a little more than usual this week, so this will be the only Reflections Post for the current week. I hope to be back on schedule next week.

Week 8, Day 3 (and only)

1 Kings 5:1-5; 8:1-13

The full text for this week is below.

I don’t know who is on the committee to choose and compile the texts for each week of the lectionary. No doubt they are very knowledgable people. But sometimes their choices baffle me. This week is one of those times. It seems as if today’s stories were plucked out of Biblical thin air and dropped in front of us. If you aren’t already familiar with the opening chapters of 1 Kings it will be very difficult to figure out what is going on or what these stories can mean to us today.

More than most weeks (and I know I’ve said this before) it is really important to read around the assigned passage. The context of any individual story—that is to say, the who, what, when, where and how of the larger story, must be considered to understand the verses we will be discussing this coming Sunday.

So here’s an assignment that might help:

First—read I Kings chapters 1–3; chapters 4:20—5:18; (Read chapter 6 only if you are interested in the intricate detailing and workmanship in the temple. You won’t miss a lot by skipping it); Read chapters 6:37—7:1 for a clue to Solomon’s real priorities; and finally, read chapter 8: 1-21.

Second—As you read, keep a list of the main characters, note how they are related to or associated with Solomon and note what happens to them.

Third—write down questions that occur to you as you read, even the little things you don’t understand or you find puzzling or intriguing. And for an extra treat, send your questions out to everyone on the class email list. This will really get our group creative juices flowing and make everyone’s study that much more exciting.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it goes pretty quickly and you will be well rewarded for doing it. My dentist once told me I don’t have to floss all my teeth—only the ones I want to keep. The principle of that wisdom applies here. We don’t have to read the whole Bible—only the parts we want to understand.

And please keep this in mind—you don’t have to master the whole Bible to get to heaven. In fact, you don’t have to master any of the Bible to get to heaven. God is always love, remember; grace is always free. Read to grow. Read to understand. Everything else, as Jesus said, will be given to you without the asking (Matthew 6.33).

Prayer: God, we pray, as Solomon prayed, for wisdom and understanding. Walk with us and guide us as we live the questions these words and our lives bring to us. Amen.

5. 1-5

1 Now King Hiram of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father; for Hiram had always been a friend to David. 2 Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, 3 ‘You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. 5 So I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to my father David, “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.”

8. 1-13

1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. 4 So they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. 5 King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 6 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 8 The poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside; they are there to this day. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

12 Then Solomon said,

‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.

13 I have built you an exalted house,

a place for you to dwell in for ever.’

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