Solomon was the love child of David and Bathsheba. Although he wasn’t the eldest, he became King because of David’s love for Bathsheba. In Solomon’s early years, he built a Temple for God and a palace for himself. Solomon seems to have been beholden to God. He loved God, as the story goes, and lived just like his father in that he obeyed God’s laws. God was impressed with his righteousness and blessed him with wisdom and riches, so that he earned about 25 tons of gold every year. But Solomon eventually turned away from God and God rewarded for that as well.
- Because Solomon loved God, God blessed him. God isn’t indifferent to our good deeds. While they cannot buy salvation and are far less than they should be, he loves* and blesses those who do good – like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. People like Jezebel (the evil Queen and wife of Ahab) weren’t loved* and blessed by God.
- God turned away from Solomon when he turned away from God. All of God’s promises up till this point were contingent on the people remaining true to God. If they kept his laws, he would keep David’s sons on the throne.
*love: By this I don’t mean the love that God has for us that drives him to save us all, but the special kind he had for people like Abraham and Isaac, people who (as much as they were humanly capable) lived for God.
Reading Samuel is like reading an interesting history book. It sounds pretty much like the history of the world – love, betrayal, scandal, bravery, etc. Here’s the take on the characters so far.
David: The King of Israel. A very compassionate man, perhaps too compassionate. Even though his son Absalom tried to kill him and take his throne, he still ordered his troops to take him alive and mourned him when he died. He was also really soft, compared to every one around him. He would forgive those who hurt him. He didn’t try to kill Saul when Saul wanted him dead. In fact, he killed the person who killed Saul. He was described as a man after God’s heart and if gentleness is the prerequisite, he very much deserved the title.
Absalom: Son of David. As arrogant as they get and seemingly as cunning. When his brother Ammon, raped his sister Tamar, he had him killed. I don’t fault him alone for that, though. David didn’t do anything about the crime. Absalom later declared himself King and tried to have his father killed, but was killed by Joab in the ensuing battle.
Joab: Commander of David’s army – at least until he killed Absalom against the King’s orders. He has a reputation for being ruthless. The commander of Saul’s army killed his brother, so Joab killed him. Even though David ordered Absalom taken alive, Joab killed him too, Still, he was strange in certain ways. When Absalom was in exile after murdering Ammon, Joab successfully lobbied for his pardon. And he did serve David faithfully as a commander of his army – right down to killing Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) so that David could marry Bathsheba.