Another catch up post, and for this I apologize once again. I’m having a tough time with these books — 1 and 2 Samuel and now 1 Kings; I assume 2 Kings will be no easier.
I struggle here, not so much on a theological level as a narrative one. This reads as the kind of dry boring history that turns me off the subject. Now, I generally like history — when it comes alive, it’s an amazing thing.
But so often it is reduced to dry facts, to places and dates, battles and leaders. It doesn’t hold my attention well, no matter how hard I try. I understand the importance of such information, but it is so much less engaging to me as the details of how people lived. The stories, the little bits and pieces.
At any rate, we come to Solomon. Solomon and his wisdom, wisdom which is praised greatly. Yet, to be honest, I’m not feeling it.
Sure, we have the famous parable of the women and the baby, but I’m not altogether sure that really qualifies as wise. I mean, sure, it worked out fine in the end but that’s a pretty big bluff to call. What if nobody stepped forward and said stop? Would you cut the baby in half just to save face? (Given what else I’ve seen of the brutal world of the society in the Old Testament, I’m going to go with probably yes.)
There’s also a bit of cognitive dissonance for me; the praising of Solomon’s wisdom, yet at the end he turns away and angers the Lord and punishment is set.
I understand the context and history, a bit. At least as far as the Bible’s evolution as a sacred text for a people in exile. A scattered people with no home, searching for an explanation as to how, as to why. If they obeyed the commandments, if they faithfully kept God’s law, why were they in exile? Why were they persecuted?
From this comes a search for explanation, and we get the angry, vengeful God. Which is something that persists even today — and I don’t think for the best. If what is bad is the result of an angry God, then it means that whoever suffers must have done something. It’s a pervasive idea that underlies so much of what’s going on, and it completely ignores larger societal factors.
Maybe it’s easier that way. We feel equally powerless before the system and before God, but at least nobody expects us to try to change God.
The system, however, it seems to be our responsibility to fight — those who are trapped, not those who are pulling the strings.
But that is neither here nor there. So, Solomon. He is wise, yet he stumbles and thus the wrath of God. I don’t know how to reconcile this, what to take from it. That even the wise can stumble? That one must be ever diligent lest one slip? I don’t know, and I wish I did.