Tag Archives: Throne

An Unorthodox Choice

Michelangelo david solomon
Michelangelo’s David and Solomon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. 1 Chronicles 22:6 (NIV)

When reading the ancient stories in God’s Message, I’ve learned that a big part of the story is often not what is said in the text, but what is left unsaid. I found it interesting last week when we read 1 Chronicles 20 that the scribe left out the naughty bits about David’s sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to murder Uriah, her husband. Today, the scribe moves right into the story of David commissioning his son Solomon to build the temple, but why Solomon was chosen as the one to ascend to the throne is never addressed.

Through the millennia, it has been a common practice in monarchies around the world for the throne to be passed to the eldest living son. In the case of King David, there were many children born to him from a handful of wives and several concubines. David’s scandalous dalliance and subsequent marriage to Bathsheba happened relatively late in his life. There were several sons born to David prior to Solomon, but David chooses his young son Solomon, born to him through Bathsheba rather than any of his other children.

Very few families escape the conflicts, machinations, and hard feelings that arise from parental favor and estate. This is true even of simple nuclear families trying to settle  issues of a parent’s last will and testament. Imagine the chaos that ensues when polygamy, the throne, political power, and vast riches are at stake. David’s choice of the young Solomon could not have gone over well with his half-siblings who had been waiting in line for the throne for many years.

I am reminded again this morning what God said to Samuel when David was anointed King as a young boy:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We don’t know why David chose young Solomon over his siblings, but David had a long track record of seeking to do the right thing in God’s eyes. I must wonder if David’s choice was based on what he saw in the hearts of his children rather than sticking with human protocol of simply handing the crown to his eldest.

Life is full of choices and decisions. Handling family dynamics with children of diverse personalities, gifts, and capabilities can be difficult for the even the most dutiful parent. It requires, if you’ll forgive the blatant connection, “the wisdom of Solomon.” And, perhaps, that is what David perceived in making his unorthodox choice of successor.

My Liege

kingdom workThe Lord is king!
    Let the earth rejoice!
    Let the farthest coastlands be glad.
Psalm 97:1 (NLT)

Over the past weekend Wendy and I discussed the changes we’ve seen in our federal government. This is not a political blog and I choose not to go on political rants. The core of Wendy’s and my discussion was the selfishness and self-centered attitude of politicians on both sides of the isle. Of politicians anywhere, really. When you have elected representatives whose top priority is to look out for their own personal interests, political power, and re-election then the system ultimately doesn’t work. You can create all sorts of rules of checks and balances, but if those who are supposed to be accountable to those checks and balances have the power to change the rules to further their own ends, then the checks and balances are all smoke and mirrors.

Back in college a friend of mine from Zimbabwe and I engaged in a long discussion about which is the best political system. He was a socialist. I defended our representative republic. After long, spirited conversation that meandered across many shared shifts in the college food service department, we both concluded that no system of government works when you have sinful, selfish, corrupt individuals in positions of political power.  And, since we both were Jesus followers and believed that everyone is ultimately sinful and power corrupts, we concluded that no form of human government is perfect because human beings are not perfect.

I thought of these things when I read the opening lyric to Psalm 97 this morning. The people of Israel tried to create an earthly theocracy. In ancient times they saw God as their king and everyone submitted to God, the Levitical priests, a loose system of judges, and the law of Moses. But, that didn’t work either since there were human priests and judges who were corrupt and the people regularly gave only passing lip service to God. Nevertheless, the idea of God as monarch has continued to be a theme throughout God’s Message. The end vision of Revelation is Jesus on the throne ruling for eternity.

Jesus talked all the time about the Kingdom of God. God’s Message tells those of us who follow Jesus that we are ultimately citizens of that Kingdom. No matter what earthly country we live in and no matter what system of government we abide under, we are eternally subjects of a divine King to whom we answer and are called to be obedient.

It’s No Wonder We Constantly Miss the Point

David with the Head of Goliath
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord, where is your unfailing love?
    You promised it to David with a faithful pledge.
Psalm 89:49 (NLT)

On occasion I will like a song and, after getting to know the song for a period of time, I will learn that the song is really about a particular person or event. Having not known this when I became enamored with the piece, it will suddenly layer the song I thought I knew with new meaning. It may even cause me to dig in and learn more about the person or event that inspired the song. You begin to realize that you don’t truly know the song unless you understand the story behind it.

This is the case with Ethan the Ezrahite’s one hit wonder in Psalm 89. While there are certainly lines of the lyric that are inspiring in and of themselves, it is the larger story that strikes me most profoundly. In this case, the song is about King David. David (of David and Goliath fame) was chosen by God to be king and anointed such by the prophet Samuel. This didn’t happen right away. It took many years, but David eventually united the bitterly divided tribes of Israel, established Jerusalem as the capital, and became a hugely successful warrior king.

God sends word that He is establishing David’s throne for eternity and everyone prepares for a long and glorious reign through the centuries. But, as tends to happen with human governments, everything started falling apart within two generations. David’s kingdom fractured in two when his grandson took over the throne. The northern tribes established their own king which did not follow David’s line and continued to be known as the nation of Israel. The southern tribes continued to honor David’s line in keeping with God’s promise and became known as the nation of Judah (which was David’s tribe).

Fast forward a couple hundred years. Invaders like Assyria and Babylon have decimated the area. David’s descendants in Judah have proven faithless and weak. David’s kingdom is ended. Jerusalem is destroyed along with the temple that had been David’s dream.

For the first 37 verses of Psalm 89, Ethan revisits the glory of the warrior King David. He reminds us of God’s promise to establish David’s throne forever and those glory days when it appeared David and his descendants would have a successful earthly dynasty as had never been seen before. Ethan then waxes eloquent on God’s greatness in view of these wonderful times. Then we get to verse 38 and Ethan makes a painful 180 degree turn. The current reality for Ethan is horrifically different than what everyone had been proclaiming. David’s royal line appears to be all but snuffed out. The glory of the Davidic kingdom has been reduced to rubble. Ethan’s song suddenly becomes a screaming lament of disappointment and terrorizing questions:

What happened to the promises?
What happened to the glory of David?
How long will this go on?
Where is your love, God?
What happened to your faithfulness?

I have come to believe that what we think will happen rarely happens the way we think it’s going to happen and almost never in the time in which we believe it will happen. When people tell me how convinced they are that God is going to do this or that at such and such a time, I smile and politely acknowledge the possibility that they may be right. Quietly, however, I remember my history and the lesson of Ethan’s one hit wonder. What, how, and when we think something is going to happen rarely comes to fruition. God is the most amazing author. What you think is going to happen in the story rarely does, but then when you look back with 20/20 hindsight in later chapters you realize how simple it all seemed.

Today I am reminded that we see our own lives and times with such finite eyes. We perceive all around us with such limited, earthbound thinking. We tend to hear only that which we can easily process and compartmentalize.

It’s no wonder we constantly miss the point.

My Personal Game of Thrones

English: The ivory throne of Tsar Ivan IV The ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:21 (NLT)

A throne seats one. Study virtually any monoarchy in human history and you’ll find wars have been fought, schemes hatched, deals made, and assassinations carried out to determine who will sit on that throne.

In my heart is a throne.

Who (or what) sits on that throne and rules my life? Who (or what) schemes to occupy it? What do I need to do about it?

Keeping it All in Perspective

Presidential Election 2012 Vector Sticker
(Photo credit: Vectorportal)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 47

God reigns above the nations,
    sitting on his holy throne.
Psalm 47:8 (NLT)

It is sometimes hard not to get sucked into the vortex of current events. As I write this post the United States is a week from our presidential elections. You can’t turn on your television without seeing non-stop political advertisements. Political ads are now popping up on-line everywhere as well so you can’t even escape them on your computer. Here in Iowa, which is a swing state, our phones are ringing off the hook with recorded messages and survey takers. Newspapers and television news media are talking about little else. To be honest, it’s all a bit of a crazy maker.

One of the things that I love about our daily trek through God’s Message is the much needed perspective it often provides. This morning provided a good reminder for me. The truth is that I hold dual citizenship. I am at once a life-time citizen of the United States and an eternal citizen of the Kingdom of God. Presidents will come and go every four to eight years and God will still be on the throne.

It’s easy to feel a certain amount of anxiety and fear when we’re in the climactic hoopla of a national election. This is especially true when advertisements from both sides are telling you that the alternative to their candidate is doomsday. Yet, God reminds us time and again to step back and remember that things are all ultimately subject to His eternal control.

Sweet. Which way to the nearest monastery? I think I’ll become a hermit for the next ten days or so.