By The Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick
As Solomon’s reign begins he is invited by God to ask for something; he requests wisdom, so God also promises him ‘riches, possessions, and honor’ beyond compare. Settling in Jerusalem, he makes brokerage agreements for trade with other kings, making profitable use of Israel’s geographic location.
After four years Solomon decides to build a Temple on a site designated by his father, David.Supplies are purchased from the same kings who provided the materials for David’s palace. We see Solomon’s wisdom in asking for artisans and craftsmen to come from other countries, and enlisting workers from among the resident aliens in Israel – even making some of them overseers. In these ways he gives even foreigners a ‘stake’ in the Temple.
Psalm 121 is a song of utter confidence in God; a recital of God’s vigilance and loving care. It echoes the request of Solomon for “wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people.” Jerusalem is a high place dedicated unambiguously (at least for a time) to the God of the Jews.
Paul urges his readers to think of their very lives as offerings – living sacrifices – made to God. What is ‘slain’ in such sacrifice is conformity to the values and behaviors of the world; while a new understanding of what is acceptable to God is gained. There is no room for self-aggrandizement; in Christ we belong to each other and must be mutually supportive in the use of the gifts given to each.
There are echoes of Jesus’s ‘sermon on the mount’ as Paul exhorts non-violence and love in response to mistreatment. Enemies are to be won over by treating them with mercy and bringing them to holy shame.
I Kings offers a different version of Solomon’s anointing than the Chronicler does. What other accounts in Scripture seem to be offered from different perspectives?
Do you find coherence in the practical wisdom and political savvy of Solomon, and in Paul’s teachings on faithful response to enemies? How do they seem alike to you? Different?
Have you ever been brought up short by someone else’s kindness or wisdom? What effect did it have on you?
Most gracious God, help us, like Solomon, to seek your wisdom, and like Paul, to seek new life in Christ. We ask it for the sake of your love. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick is bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis.