The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king. Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”
1 Kings 11:41-12:4
Dear God, I’m going to wrap up the 1 Kings telling of Solomon’s story by looking again at this initial exchange between Israel’s leaders and Rehoboam. Apparently, by the end of Solomon’s reign we know there were two pretty distinctly negative things about him:
- He worshiped other gods because of his many, many wives.
- He was a harsh king that gave people harsh labor and high taxes.
It takes me back to 1 Samuel 8 when Samuel warned the people who were then the leaders of Israel:
“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
1 Samuel 8:11-18
I’ve mused in these journals what Israel (and David) would have looked like if David had been a judge and not a king. I think David’s life would have played out completely differently. Even if he had been more of a warrior judge like Joshua instead of a spiritual leader judge, he still would have lived a much different life. But I suppose that any of us that make ourselves king, whether it be in reality or figuratively in our own minds or families, will end up needing people to rule over. That can include a spouse or children. But if we can keep thinking of ourselves as your servants and the servants of those whom you called us to love, them we have a chance at being more useful to you and getting more done in the long run.
Father, help me to be exactly who you need me to be for those around me. Use my life to draw others’ hearts to you. Increase through me and help me to decrease. Do it all for your glory and so that you are worshipped.
In Jesus’s name I pray,