Sunday Sermon 22 August - Solomon: David’s legacy
The chosen hymns for this week, Focus my eyes on you, O God of Bethel (Vrs 1,2, 5) and Let us build a house (vrs 1,5,6) can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
Solomon: David’s legacy
Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 22nd August.
So we have come to the end of our series on David and his attempts to create a dynasty.
David is now dead and Solomon has become king.
Solomon has lived his whole life as a consequence of political intrigue and steeped in political intrigue he has learnt everything he feels he needs to learn from his father, starting off by killing everyone who may have challenged him.
Then getting rid of people as head of the religious order and then centralising the religion so that he is in control.
The temple is now finished and he is consecrating it...notice that, that he is consecrating it, not the
High Priest , not any of the priests, not anyone from the religious caste.
My own personal favourite phrase from his prayer, a prayer that I may add was less addressed to God and more addressed to the people listening was when Solomon said, ‘So now, Lord God of Israel, I also pray you will keep your other promise you made to my father that there would always be one of his descendants ruling as king of Israel, provided they obeyed you as carefully as he did.’
When you consider the number of people David had killed, when you consider his affair with Bathsheba, when you consider his record as a father...I feel that is a very low bar to reach.
So now we have the legacy of David, Solomon.
He has achieved everything that his father wanted, so now what, what is Solomon’s legacy going to be?
We will look at that after Amanda has led us in our prayers and readings today.
1 Kings 8: 1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43 Amanda
Solomon is regarded as the wisest of all kings.
Last week, when Anne was taking the service, we heard how Solomon was granted one wish from God, and he had the sense not to ask for his enemies to be killed, or for riches or power, he asked for wisdom.
Then we have the famous scene with two mothers fighting over which of them was the true mother of a child and how Solomon then used his wisdom to reach the correct decision.
My mum used to have a saying about me when I was getting a bit too big for my books.
She would say, ‘All those brains and no common sense.’
Solomon was supposed to be the wisest of kings, yet he could never see the real truth that he needed to see.
We cannot find happiness in ourselves.
He just had a blind spot when it came to the reason he struggled with finding happiness. He did everything he could to find happiness, but he couldn’t see the truth that the one person that was stopping him from finding happiness was himself.
It’s like the man who comes running into the kitchen to tell his wife that he has just heard a statistic on the TV that one in three people are unfaithful.
When his wife asks why he is so worried about it he says, ‘Well I can’t work out if it is you, or me, or my girlfriend.’
Listen to these words of Solomon from the book of Ecclesiastes (2:1-11)
I decided to enjoy myself and find out what happiness is,. But I found that this is useless too. I discovered that laughter is foolish, that pleasure does you no good. Driven on by my desire for wisdom, I decided to cheer myself up with wine and have a good time. I thought that this might be the best way people can spend their short lives on this earth. I accomplished great things. I built for myself houses and planted vineyards (using so much forced labour that he had 550 slave drives to control them 1 Kings 9:23), I planted gardens and orchards with all kinds of fruit trees in them; I dug ponds to irrigate them. I bought many slaves, and there were slaves born in my household. I owned more livestock than anyone else who had ever lived in Jerusalem. I also pled up silver and gold from the royal treasures of the lands I ruled. Men and women sang to entertain me, and I have all the women a man could want.
Yes i was great, greater than anyone else who had lived in Jerusalem and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I got. I did not deny myself any pleasure. I was proud of everything I had worked for, and all this was my reward. Then I thought about all that I ha\d done and how hard I had worked for it, and I realised that it didn’t mean a thing.
David wanted to reach the top, to be the person no one forgot.
He felt that if he was that person then he would be the most important person in the world.
His legacy was a son Solomon, living his life as a child in fear within that environment that David had created in the palace.
Women could be raped; sons could create civil wars, because it was all about being the top person. If you were the top person then you were safe, if you were the top person then you mattered.
When Solomon became king he felt that he had to kill everyone who might challenge him.
So now he was at the top and he had everything, riches beyond compare, 700 wives and 300 concubines.
And he was not happy.
In fact his search for happiness made everyone else unhappy; all those people living as slaves, I’m sure their lives weren’t happy...all those wives and concubines competing against each other, and all their children fighting to be the next op dog, I am sure their lives weren’t content.
All those gardens that Solomon built, I am sure the only person that was allowed in them was Solomon, so no one else got any joy out of them.
The truth is that we only find happiness in the happiness that we give others.
When I bring joy to my one and only wife, i find that I am happy.
When I bring joy to my children or grandchildren, I find I have joy.
When I help a parishioner have a slightly better day than they thought they would have then my life feels a bit lighter.
If we want a true legacy worthy of our lives,
then we simply follow God’s path for us,
seeking the wellbeing of those around us,
helping them find the hope they need,
showing them a better way for them to find joy.
I am one of the most introverted people in the church, and as I get older I become more introverted.
Invite me to a party and before I have arrived I have already worked out when i want to leave.
But if COVID has taught me anything, it is how much we need others; true joy, true happiness, comes with the memories we create with others, with the joy we give them, with the support we give others.
So we need to leave here and create some memories, help some people, bring some happiness into the world, and then we will find our own joy.
Let us pray
Almighty, loving God,
Poor Solomon, the king beyond kings, the greatest of kings with more power and wealth then, and before or after...and it was meaningless.
Then came your Son, with no wealth, no home, only the clothes he walked in. Yet his life was beyond meaning, his life influenced and helped billions.
He was King of all kings.
Why do we always fall for the illusion?
Why do we follow the ways of Solomon rather than your Son?
Why do we alwys seek our own pleasure first?
Why do we see others only from how we can use them to make us happy?
Solomon needed his palace to be bigger than your temple, his pleaser to be more important thay your purpose.
And we have not learnt from his mistakes;
Our projects, our image, our status...always tale precedence over your opath for us.
Forgive us our stupidity.
We seek our happiness, our security, above anyone else’s and fail to see that it is that very struggle that create our insecurity and unhappiness.
Remind us again of the example of your Son.
Who’s faith was in your path for him.
Who gave to others and in giving to others found hope, and joy, and peace, and forgiveness.
May we truly see your path for us, and trust that where ever it leads us , no matter how hard it may seem, that it leads us to a place where we know you are with us, and in that fellowship, in that companionship, we find true contentment, true peace, true love and joy.
This we ask in Jesus name