Pharaoh's Daughter 

MTS-3440

Pharaoh’s Daughter

“Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh,
king of Egypt, and married his daughter.”         1 Kings 3:1

 

This was merely a political alliance and nothing beyond, wasn’t it? Whether this was so or
not we will never know. Our notion of romance probably wasn’t applicable in
Solomon’s case. The young king of Israel had too much to worry about at this
time and whether he had romantic feelings for pharaoh’s daughter didn’t really
concern him. In order to maintain a harmonious relationship with Egypt, which
was a much larger and more powerful nation than Israel, Solomon had to put out
an effort to make his new wife happy. He went so far as to erect a palace for
his Egyptian wife, didn’t he?

The young Solomon was evidently very handsome and eligible, which made him a wonderful
match for Pharaoh’s daughter. Did the girl have any input into this political
marriage? Probably not. Her feelings toward her future husband were of very
little importance; she was merely doing what her father charged her to do and
hoped for the best. She would be very well-treated by Solomon as long as the
relationship between the two nations remained cordial; but her status within
the court would change drastically if the political climate between the two countries
ever worsened. Over her own destiny Pharaoh’s daughter absolutely had no
control.

Many Chinese princesses in ancient times were also married away for political reasons, and many of them
to barbarian kings in remote areas. They were mere instruments used in order to
achieve international peace; their personal happiness and wellbeing was of no
concern to any involved. Chinese monarchs throughout the dynasties all had tons
of daughters, and many of them were rendered “useful” by becoming political
“pawns.” 

Pharaoh’s daughter might have been the first one given to Solomon for such a union, but
certainly she wasn’t the last one. She eventually became merely one of the one
thousand wives and concubines Solomon accumulated during his reign.

The number was indeed quite daunting and unimaginable, but what Solomon did was no
different from most monarchs in the orient in ancient times. Indeed it was
quite natural for the ones invested with absolute power to keep on pursuing
wealth and women until the day they died, for their passion for both was
insatiable. Of course, we may hope the godly and supposedly wisest man on earth
would have behaved differently from those pagan despots concerning this corrupt
practice, but that simply wasn’t the case at all. Solomon might even have been
a lot worse than many of them. For one man’s vanity and lust, one thousand
maidens’ opportunities for happiness in life were butchered. This is indeed
cruel and unjust, which goes to show that, if uncured and undeterred, sin will
always run its infamous course to the bitter end.                     

Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:32:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Shimei 

MTS-3439

Shimei

“So Shimei went away and brought the
slaves back from Gath.”

           1 Kings 2:40

 

Shimei took a chance to vent his anger against the king in exile, thinking that he would get
away with it, since David was on the run from his son Absalom. He was probably
holding a grudge against David, since he was form the household of Saul and
believed the king was responsible for Saul’s demise.

Being an impulsive person who did things without careful calculation, Shimei started to
curse David and cast stones at the king in Bahurim, which might have given him
a thrill, for he thought he was exacting vengeance for his relative’s death. By
doing so he was putting his own life in grave danger, since there were still
armed people following the king. I guess Shimei considered it a rare
opportunity to confront the king and simply could not let it slip away without
taking any action. He had harbored his wrath against David far too long, and
when the opportunity finally presented itself, it was imperative that he must
do something. 

What did the man gain by venting his anger? His reckless action would come back to haunt him
years later, for the king certainly had kept what was done to him in mind. The
one who had had the audacity to insult the king in public would be held
accountable, David determined.

When the king emerged triumphant against Absalom, Shimei suddenly came to his senses and
rushed to David and pleaded for forgiveness. The man wasn’t repentant of his
sin; he was doing that to save his own hide. Consequently David gave an oath
before the Lord that he wouldn’t harm Shimei. 
Indeed, Shimei chose the right time to plead for mercy, since the king
was in no mood to execute anyone during a time of national celebration. David
was just putting off the payback to another day, for he did not take the
grievance done to him lightly. Being God’s anointed, he deserved to be treated
with honor and respect, and the ones who failed to do so would have to be
punished.

Shimei might have thought he had eluded danger and death after the king passed away, not
realizing that David had handed the unfinished business to his son and his
situation was more perilous than before. He was practically put into house
arrest and was charged never to leave the city of Jerusalem. Shimei must have
known David’s son really meant business this time and abided by his order for
three years; yet being an impulsive man, he again did an impulsive thing - he
went after his two slaves who had run away from him and made their way to Gath.

In the meantime, Solomon was carefully watching Shimei’s every move, for after three
long years since his father’s death, he was still very mindful of doing what he
was charged to do, which was to put Shemei away for good.

Was this particular vengeance God’s doing or men’s action? One simply couldn’t afford to
be too careless during the time when the Lord seemed to put a little bit more
weight on justice than mercy.           

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Replacement 

MTS-3438

Replacement

“The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada
over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the
priest.”            1 Kings 2:35

 

By virtue of their lofty position and power, Joab and Abiathar might have considered
themselves invincible and they would never be replaced. Joab had been David’s
right hand man for years and he had become so powerful that he even blatantly
ignored the king’s order concerning Absalom. With the backing of the military,
Joab didn’t seem to have any fear of anything and I doubt he ever entertained
any thought being replaced by anyone as long as he lived. Although Abiathar
might not have been as powerful as the general, his confidence nevertheless was
based on something entirely different. Being the priest of the Almighty, he
believed he was set for life, since only the Lord could remove him, and he was
confident that would never happen.

In a matter of days, Abiathar’s position was taken by Zadok and Joab was slain near the
altar by the one who replaced him as the general of Israel. Indeed the two most
powerful men of Israel were easily disposed and replaced.

Contrary to what we like to believe, not a single soul on earth is indispensible or
irreplaceable. We all play our role for a season; be it great or small, famous
or ignorable, we will have to withdraw from the stage when the curtain falls.

Both men seemed to have started their career so well and their future was certainly very
promising. They must have tackled every task assigned to them with great zeal
and achieved renown among their peers. One promotion after another later, they
found themselves sitting in a high position and becoming the envy of many.

After the thrill of victory subsided came boredom and restlessness. The country was
relatively at ease by now and instead of pointing their spears toward their
foes, they turned them against their friends within the court. A severe power
struggle was brewing and the two decided to join the up and coming force of the
young prince, which constituted a betrayal against the aging king.

What was the reason behind the betrayal?   

They had gone through thick and thin with David and should have remained faithful to him
since the king had done no wrong to them, yet their ambition and desire for
power might have gotten the better of them and caused them to make a decision
that would eventually cost them their reputations and their lives.

Although the king’s power might have been diminishing at the time and Adonijah seemed to be
gaining strength, Joab should have stuck with the king and fought off the
opposition, yet he did just the opposite. Joab and Abiathar became empty shells
and were easily broken since they weren’t fortified by the all important
virtues of loyalty and faithfulness.            

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 6:39:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Abiathar 

MTS-3437

Abiathar

“So Solomon removed Abiathar from the
priesthood of the Lord…”

            1 Kings 2:26

 

Abiathar’s main focus should have been the priestly affairs and he should not have muddled
with power struggles within the court. He would have been fine had he stayed
out of the fight for power between father and the son, yet for some odd reason
he threw himself into the ring and sided with Adonijar, who seemed to be
gaining momentum at the time.

Abiathar made a grave mistake and gross miscalculation by doing that. Did the priest ever
consult with the Lord before he acted, or was he simply going with the flow and
putting all his chips on the one who was winning? There was absolutely no clear
indication that the Lord was removing David from the throne at the time and,
being a man of God, the priest should have remained quiet.

Instead of siding with the popular and the strong in prince Adonijah, Abiathar should have
lined himself up with the Lord’s anointed out of his fear for God.

There was really not a whole lot to gain, even if Adonijah became successful in his
pursuit, since the man was going to be a priest for life. He might have gained
the king’s approval and trust if the conspiracy succeeded, but that was about
it. I don’t think it made a whole of difference to him who the king was.
Abiathar’s main duty in life was serving the almighty God.

Abiathar wasn’t entirely void of worldly ambition, however. He might not have been
seeking wealth and fame by following Adonijar’s lead in the enterprise;
nonetheless, he was searching for recognition and respect in the process. It
was indeed quite appealing to become the king’s aide and confidant.

What else is there for me to achieve except what I have already achieved? “It is totally
unacceptable that at my age I have led fewer than ten people to the Lord,” a
Christian brother said to me. I think his aspiration should be applauded since
he desired to do more for God’s kingdom. We all have fallen short in accomplishing
what the Lord desires for us to achieve in life, but it’s displeasing and
dishonoring to the Lord if we focus our attention on worldly things. There was
so much that could have been done in Abiathar’s life, but he succumbed to the
temptation of worldly fame and power and, unfortunately, he ended up gaining
neither. He died as a layman who had his privilege of serving the Lord stripped
from him.

Will the honor and privilege as a minister of the gospel be taken away from me if I
start to develop wandering eyes and to seek worldly fame and fortune? This is
indeed quite possible.         

   

Monday, February 11, 2013 9:05:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Adonijah's Death 

MTS-3436

Adonijah’s Death

“So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah
son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.”           1 Kings 2:25

 

It was a simple request Adonijah made, yet he died for it. Why did Solomon take it so
seriously? I don’t think Abishag meant so much to him that he refused to give
her up; the king must have felt Adonijah was still a threat to his kingship
since he was the elder son of David; therefore he took this opportunity to get
rid of him. Had Adonijah known the serious consequence of his request, he
wouldn’t have made it. He was just being too naïve and had no earthly idea that
Solomon was capable of doing such a cruel thing. No matter what had occurred
between them, he was still Solomon’s brother, wasn’t he?

Indeed, “blood is thinker than water” does not apply in any power struggle among
siblings. There are tons of cases of brothers suing one another to get their fair
share of their father’s inheritance. It’s not unheard of that brothers butcher
one another for money. In this context, Solomon and Adonijah were fighting for
the throne of Israel, which was far more enticing than mere wealth.

Even though Adonijah and Solomon were brothers, they did have different mothers, which made
a great difference in their relationship. Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob, was
much closer to Benjamin because they were both sons of Rachel. As far as his
connection with the rest of his brothers was concerned, the intimacy between
them was hardly there.

Even so, this fratricide was totally unnecessary. Adonijah was naïve and ambitious but, looking
at the situation from our vantage point, he didn’t deserve to die. It doesn’t
seem possible that he could have staged another coup like he did, and Solomon
should have shown mercy and spared his brother’s life.

Ruthlessness was absolutely required for a monarch and Solomon was just learning his lesson
on the job. He simply could not leave anything to chance and he took decisive
action when action was required. His brother’s life didn’t seem to mean a whole
lot to him, since he had much greater concerns, the stability and longevity of
his kingdom.

As soon as people possess absolute power, their primary concern is to maintain and to
perpetuate such power, no matter how ruthless they have to become and how
costly it may be. People are indeed capable of doing the cruelest thing to keep
their power intact.

Solomon’s earthly kingdom, based on the principle of power and achieved by conquest, was
established thousands of years before Christ ushered in the heavenly kingdom
grounded on love and achieved by the Ruler shedding his own blood. Reading
about one murder after another taking place within human kingdoms does create
in me a great longing for God’s kingdom fully realized on earth.        

       

 

    

Friday, February 8, 2013 6:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Another Wish 

MTS-3435

Another Wish

“Please ask King Solomon—he will not
refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”       1 Kings 2:17

 

One dream had crashed and burned; how was Adonijah going to recover from the loss? He was the
elder brother of King Solomon and he honestly believed the kingdom should have
been his. In fact, he was only inches away from the throne and, apart from the
prophet Nathan’s interference, he would have been king by then. The scheme
failed, however, and for a while he was just relieved that his dear life was
spared, but as days went by, the prince found himself becoming more and more
discontent. What was there left for him in life? He asked himself. 

The throne might have been an empty dream for Adonijah, but women were still strong
possibilities. He couldn’t have anyone he wanted, obviously, but Abishag was
extremely attractive and, fortunately, the young girl was still there to be
taken. Determined to get what he wanted, he turned to Bathsheba for help.

What was there for the prince to pursue in the court? Not a whole lot. He was stripped
of all his power and all his connections were severed. He was isolated and
alienated in the palace and he was often overcome by boredom and assaulted by
depression. He must have had some wives by his side, but he needed a new thrill
and adventure to divert his attention from his miserable self. He needed
another woman, preferably a young and exotic one. He spotted one in the late
king’s sleeping partner and body-warmer - Abisag, and unbeknownst to himself,
his wish for another woman would become his death wish. Indeed Solomon was just
seeking an excuse to put his elder brother away, and he quickly put an end to his
brother because of his presumptuous request. 

Adonijah would have lived had he kept a low profile and not presumed anything. He should
have known there was a big target on his chest and it wouldn’t have taken much of
an offense for the king to strike him down. Adonijah was a repulsive man, but
being thoughtful and calculative was never his strong suit.

It wasn’t untypical for one with Adonijah’s background and entitlement to end his life tragically.
What was there in the court for people such as Absalom and Adonijah to pursue
except the throne? A life of luxury was nothing to them and they could have
just about anything they ever wanted. A life of entitlement and luxury can be
very boring for people with vaunting ambition, which was indeed the case with
Adonijah and Absalom, and they both lost their lives because of it. 

It would have been much
better for them to be born in a peasant’s home and to have to labor their
entire life just to make a living. Nothing puts out one’s ambition and
aspiration for life quicker than a growling stomach

Thursday, February 7, 2013 6:13:00 AM Categories: Devotional

David 

MTS-3434

David

“Then David rested with his ancestors
and was buried in the City of David.”

            1 Kings 2:10

 

How are we going to remember this great man? What comes into our mind when we contemplate
about this person’s illustrative life? Do we admire the man for all he had
achieved as a poet and a king, or do we abhor him for the sins of adultery and
murder he had mercilessly committed?

I admire David the man because I adore the Lord who was behind the man. David became who
and what he was merely because the Lord intended it to be. Without the Lord,
David would just have been an ordinary man like any earthling who lived his
share of earthly days and died.

Was David just an ordinary man? Indeed he was, even though he had great potential to
become great. Come to think of it, don’t we all have potential to become great?
Indeed, we all do. Why then, did the Almighty make him great and create us
ordinary?

The shepherd boy was becoming ordinary just like any of his neighbors and friends until the
day when Samuel suddenly showed up at his doorstep. Things changed dramatically
when ceremonial oil was poured upon his head and he was anointed to be
different.

Yet David the shepherd lad remained the same even though a heavy crown of gold was placed
upon his head. He remained a man after God’s own heart his entire life.

I don’t have to be anointed as a king to become a man after God’s own heart, do I? I just
need to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and do what pleases the Lord; I will
become a man after God’s own heart.

Who is King David? Who am I? He was a king over a nation, and I still remain a person known
only unto the Lord and absolutely unknown to the world.

What material was David made of? He was created of mere dust and would return to dust like
all living beings. He was flesh and blood just like me, perhaps even more
fleshy and bloody than me, yet thousands bowed down to him and not a single
soul has ever bowed down to me.

Are we going to be overcome by self-pity, for we seem to be nothing and others appear to be
everything? Are we going to lead a life of misery, because we are not content
to be what and who we are? Why aren’t we David or Solomon? Well, even Saul would
be acceptable.

David was God’s son, so are we; David loved the Lord with all his might; so do we; David
was a man after God’s own heart, which is something we all aspire to be as well.
David was great in men’s eyes, which is of no great significance in God’s
perspective. We are mere midgets in men’s eyes, but we can strive to be great
in God’s viewpoint by striving to love him more. No, David was no greater than
any of us; he was just called to perform something great. He was an ordinary
man with an extraordinary calling and fulfilled the mission the best he could.
Aren’t we all called to be and to do the same, albeit on a much smaller
scale?        

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:28:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Kindness 

MTS-3433

Kindness

“But show kindness to the sons of
Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table.”        1 Kings 2:7

 

David feltthat justice must be done and evil must be punished; therefore he charged his
son to do what was necessary to Joab and Shimei who had gravely offended him.  Yet, even at the time of his death, David was
still thinking about the ones who had shown kindness to him when he needed it in
the worst way. Barzillai stood by him at a time when most of his friends had
forsaken him. Surely David wasn’t going to let this act of kindness shown to
him slip from his mind. Evil indeed must be punished; and goodness should be
rewarded accordingly.

Barzillai probably didn’t act kindly to David to get any sort of reward. It was very
unlikely that he would get any, since the king was in exile and he might not be
able to reclaim his kingdom. As a matter of fact, the old man might have
jeopardized himself by showing kindness to the king, for the king’s son might
become the future ruler and he might hold a grudge against those who had befriended
the king in exile. 

Barzillai probably was just doing what came natural to him, and didn’t entertain the
possible consequences of his action. He had a profound respect for the king and
must have considered it a privilege to provide for the needs of David and his
men. As far as the possible consequences were concerned, he was willing to
leave it in God’s hands.

At the end, the king prevailed and Absalom was dead.

Barzillai might have already died by this time, but the action of kindness he had done
continued to yield abundant fruit. Although he himself may not have gotten to
enjoy it, his children greatly benefited from it. King David made sure that what
the old man had done for him didn’t go unnoticed or unrewarded.

We do not perform works of charity to get any sort of tangible reward, however. In fact,
the Lord told us: “When
you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is
doing.” We should do charitable things out of our love and obedience to the
Lord, not out of any selfish motivation.

I probably have forgotten most of the good deeds I have
done, yet I seem to remember many gestures of goodness people have shown to me
in the course of my life. I may not have the opportunity to express to them my
deep appreciation, but I always remember them in my prayers of thanksgiving. By
doing so, God’s name is lifted up and glorified and I believe my benefactors
will also be blessed in some tangible way, since I often remember them in my
prayers. 

We do need more Barzillais in this world, people who are
kind-hearted and perform deeds of charity out of their reverence for God and
love for men.        

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 6:56:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Vindictiveness 

MTS-3432

Vindictiveness

“Now you yourself know what Joab son of
Zeruiah did to me…”

         
1 Kings 2:5

 

David must have harbored animosity
against his general for quite some time now and he still could not let it go on
his dying bed. Joab did offend the king very badly by murdering the two
generals whom he admired, but what hurt David the most was the death of his son
Absalom at the hand of Joab, who completely ignored the king’s will concerning
his rebellious son. Joab indeed committed an unpardonable sin by taking
Absalom’s life.

Joab was a shrewd military man
and there were pragmatic reasons behind everything he did, including taking
Absalom’s life and siding with Adonijah in the conspiracy. He had no fear of
the king, for he had strong military backing behind him and, after years of
leading the military, he must have built enough support within the court, which
made him quite secure and complacent. There appeared to be a sense of
invincibility in the man that most people didn’t possess.

Even though David couldn’t do
anything to Jaob at the time, it didn’t mean that his anger against Joab had
subsided. The wrath was simmering in his heart and the king was just waiting
for an appropriate opportunity to take decisive action. The opportunity never
did materialize, however, and therefore he charged his son to do the job he had
left undone.

What caused the man after
God’s own heart to become so vindictive? Wasn’t he the one who refused to exact
vengeance against Saul while he had prefect opportunities and excuses to do so?

What made the greatest
difference was that Saul was God’s anointed and Joab wasn’t. Joab deserved to
die because he had shed innocent people’s blood during peace time and God’s
justice demanded that the criminal pay for his crime. I suppose that was the
reason why he charged the next king to carry out his unfinished business.

Was there room for forgiveness
and reconciliation between David and his nephew Joab? There should have been
but, from David’s viewpoint, justice always weighed a lot more than mercy and
he simply couldn’t find a perfect balance between the two. King David’s
vindictiveness wasn’t necessarily personal, albeit he was offended personally;
he was probably more concerned about God’s justice than his own personal
vendetta. I would lose some respect and admiration for the man if that wasn’t
the case.  

I will probably take some
ill-feelings I have harbored in my heart with me to my grave, but it’s pretty
distasteful if I try to pass the legacy of vindictiveness down to my children,
and it’s extremely appalling if I charge my children to exact vengeance for me against
my enemies after I am no more. The animosity we may have stored up against
certain people for various reasons should die with us and what we should leave
behind is our undying love for people.

Monday, February 4, 2013 6:28:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Prosperity 

MTS-3431

Prosperity

“Do this so that you may prosper in all
you do and wherever you go…”

            1 Kings 2:4

 

What did the dying king desire the most for his beloved son at this time? He wanted his son
Solomon to become prosperous in all he did. What was the key to achieve that
goal? By observing the law - that was quite obvious.

What was prosperity? Did the king hope that his son would enlarge his kingdom and expand
the territory of Israel? Not necessarily so. David had experienced enough
turmoil and warfare in his life and his greatest desire for the next king was
peace, and with lasting peace he thought surely true prosperity would come.

Indeed the king had secured many victories for his country and in his dying days, his
nation was basically free from war. Yet this had been procured at a great
price, for many had sacrificed their lives to make peace and prosperity
possible. Many parents had lost their sons in battle and their wounds would
never heal. It was the king’s prayer that history would not repeat itself and the
bloodshed would cease under his son’s reign.

Peace and prosperity could never be achieved unless the people honored the Lord by
keeping the law. This was David’s conviction and he tried to make sure that
Solomon received the message. He himself had suffered the ill-effects of
violating the law and was dreading that his son would make the same mistake.
“Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go,” he charged
Solomon with his dying breath.

“Grandfather said before he passed away that your children would become prosperous,” my
sister told me after the service was over. My grandfather wasn’t a believer,
but he had the best wishes for all his offspring just the same. What prosperity
meant to my grandfather was obviously worldly success, something that I consider
much less important than spiritual riches.

“O make our children strong men of God.” This has been our daily prayer for our sons since
the day they were born. Being devout is not a sure path for them to achieve
material prosperity; it’s nonetheless a guarantee that they will attain inner
peace and lasting joy. Didn’t our Lord once state that “a man's life does not consist
in the abundance of his possessions?” 

What did worldly success and prosperity mean to a dying man? David had tasted all that
and probably knew the vanity of it. Surely he wanted his son to enjoy another
kind of prosperity, abundance in the Lord, which can only be achieved through
leading a life of obedience and complete devotion to God. I suppose that was
the essence of the charge David gave to his son Solomon.    

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 1, 2013 6:50:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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