Tag Archives: Bob Marley

The Man Solomon

The Man Solomon (CaD 1 Ki 10) Wayfarer

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.
1 Kings 10:23 (NIV)

Solomon is one of the most intriguing characters in the Great Story. He inherited a kingdom from his father that stretched far enough in every direction to exploit trade routes from Africa to Asia. Solomon obviously had a head for business, diplomacy, and trade and he made the most of it. The description of his wealth and power in today’s chapter is impressive enough to make an oligarch envious, and it has led some to dismiss all of it as an exaggeration.

I thought I might take this chapter-a-day journey on a bit of a trivial rabbit trail this morning. Beyond the Biblical account, Solomon’s legend has ripple effects that are still felt today, though few people know about it. The story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in today’s chapter has impacted the nation of Ethiopia for centuries, as well as having ripple effects in our popular culture to this day.

Scholars debate who the Queen of Sheba really was, but centuries-old tradition in Ethiopia holds that she was a queen from a tribe in that region. According to their tradition, the Queen of Sheba slept with Solomon and became pregnant by him. This notion is would not be a stretch of the imagination. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, so a one-night stand with a visiting female dignitary was certainly not out of the question for Sol. She purportedly gave birth to a son who became King Menelik. The “Solomonic Dynasty” in Ethiopia ruled for centuries until 1974.

But the tradition gets even more strange. The Ethiopian tradition goes on to report that Menelik returned to Jerusalem to meet his father and that Solomon taught his son many things, sending him home with riches including the Ark of the Covenant. To this day, Ethiopians believe that the Ark and the tablets of the tablets with the 10 Commandments are secretly held and maintained by priests in a church there.

And we’re not done yet. The final Emporer of the Solomonic dynasty was Haile Selassie. Rastafarians in Jamaica, notably reggae legend Bob Marley, believed that Selassie was God incarnate, not only the descendant of Solomon but the reincarnation of Jesus; A messiah who would lead African peoples of the African diaspora to freedom.

As I sit in the quiet this morning, I ponder once again this intriguing man named Solomon whose legend still resonates in fascinating ways to this very day. As I look back at historical figures, it’s easy to want to place them in binary camps of being a “good” person or a “bad” person. My experience with Solomon in church tradition is that he’s revered as a “good” person for his wisdom and wealth. As I’ve observed in recent posts, I find Solomon to have had major flaws and blind spots. Does that make him “bad?” I think it makes him human. He was obviously gifted in many ways, and those gifts led to legendary earthly success revered by people to this day. His blind spots and his flaws doomed his kingdom to fall immediately after his death and his country to splinter into a bloody civil war.

Isn’t that true of me? I have my gifts and abilities that have led to a relative measure of earthly success. I also have my flaws and my blind spots which have led to foolish choices and a relative measure of human failures. As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to use wisdom in investing the former in growing an increasing measure of spiritual maturity and a legacy of love, while using the same wisdom in minimizing the latter and the destructive fallout that follows.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Songs of Assurance

Songs of Assurance (CaD Ps 121) Wayfarer

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

Psalm 121:1 (NIV)

One summer of high school my friend Neal and I found ourselves standing in the middle of a desert in Mexico. It was something like 117 degrees that day. There were several vans of youth along with a few cars making our way toward Acapulco when one of the vehicles had an issue. Our local guide stayed behind to wait for and deal with a mechanic and our youth pastor told Neal and me to stay with him. I remember thinking, “This has got to be one of the strangest moments of my life.”

I don’t remember being afraid, exactly. Our guide was a native who was more than capable of making sure we’d manage. Neal was a great companion to have if you’re stuck in the Mexican desert. He’s a walking stand-up comedian act and can make any circumstance entertaining. Nevertheless, this was well before cell phones and there were a lot of “What ifs….” that ran through my mind.

I thought about that afternoon as I read today’s chapter, Psalm 121. It’s another “Song of ascents” that pilgrims would sing on the road to Jerusalem as they made their way to one of the annual festivals. The rugged mountainous terrain around Jerusalem could be somewhat dangerous for pilgrims as thieves and robbers were common. There’s a reason Jesus used a man beaten by robbers in the parable of the Good Samaritan. His listeners would identify with that. It was a concern for any traveler in those days.

It’s helpful to read the lyrics of this song as you imagine yourself with a caravan of other pilgrims walking toward Jerusalem. In the distance you see Mount Zion and Solomon’s Temple which, for them, was God’s earthly residence. So, looking to the mountains and asking “Where does my help come from?” would have been associated with the destination of their pilgrimage. Being safe on the road, not getting injured, being protected from harm walking by day and camping outdoors at night, this song was a repeated proclamation of faithful assurance in their “coming and going” to and from Jerusalem.

In the quiet this morning, I am reminded by the lyrics of this song that sometimes I need words of assurance and affirmation along this life journey. They don’t magically protect me from harm, but they do help me to keep fear, anxiety, and insecurity in check. They remind me of God’s faithfulness no matter my circumstances.

In our bedroom, Wendy and I have a piece of encaustic artwork I bought for Wendy this past Christmas. Three little birds stare at us when we get up each morning and when we lie down each night. Behind the artwork is another frame with the lyrics of a Bob Marley tune: “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”

“I rise up this morning, smile with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds perched by my doorstep.
Singing a sweet song, with a melody pure and true.
This is my message to you:
Don’t worry about a thing ’cause
Every little thing is gonna be alright.”

I’ve always thought the song to be Marley’s reggae riff on the same encouragement and affirmation Jesus gave to His followers:

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.”
Luke 12:6-7 (MSG)

Just like the Hebrew pilgrims singing Psalm 121, I have my Bob Marley psalm of assurance that reminds me both day and night.

(By the way, our afternoon stranded in the hot, Mexican desert sun was uneventful. Another van full of youth saw us by the road, pulled over to make sure we were okay, and handed us an ice-cold gallon of orange juice. Every little thing was alright.)