Troubling Passage

A few weeks ago, I was writing the sermon for this coming Sunday. I usually commit Thursdays to sermon writing. On the Wednesday evening before this particular Thursday, I decided to read the text. I like to go to bed with the text on my mind. Perhaps it will seep into my heart while I am sleeping and better prepare me for my work the next day. I opened my Bible to 1 Kings 2:12-46; this is not a typical bedtime story. In fact, the text deeply troubled me.

When we come to the later part of 1 Kings 2, we find much bloodshed. From the vantage point of our modern world, Solomon’s actions seem extreme and brutal. Yet as I allowed the text to simmer in my spirit, I began to see something different in the story. In order to fully understand the text, we have to read it in its original context. Solomon’s world was a barbaric place. Kings would assume power and exterminate all threats to the kingdom. Yet Solomon extends grace to a number of questionable characters. At the same time, he passes judgment on the guilty not allowing their discretions to go unpunished. As we study this text on Sunday, we will find a mix of grace and guilt. As we peer back through the story of Jesus, the Cross, the Resurrection, we see it in a different light. We are reminded that God is serious about sin. He cannot wink at our volitions. We need the atoning sacrifice of Jesus in order to stand before a holy God. We also experience extensions of grace in this story and the grave consequences of ignoring the forbearance of God.

I would not choose to preach this passage. It is not a well-known passage, nor does it provide an uplifting story for the reader. Yet I believe that 1 Kings 2:12-46 is God’s Word. And because of this, we can be assured that it has the potential to change us into the people God wants to be. I hope you will join us on Sunday as we continue the story of Solomon.