Thirty Thousand Men
“King Solomon conscripted laborers from
all Israel—thirty thousand men.”
1 Kings 5:13
Thirty thousand men are exactly thirty thousand men, no more, no less. Have we ever
tried to put faces on all these men? Not really. It just a number to us and we
see them as a group, as if they weren’t individuals with unique talents and
Thirty thousand men represented thirty thousand families, didn’t they? There were
thirty thousand men with dreams and aspirations. They were the ones who might have
been getting married when they received the conscription from Solomon; and most
of them had plans for their next days and next years. They had children to rear
and elderly parents to care for, yet they had to put everything off and do what
they were told or forced to do.
Only the rich and the powerful have options and the richer people are, the more choices they
have in life. This is the way it is now, and this was the way it was in the
past. The powerful give orders, and the poor have no choice but to submit, or
I knew the next three years were gone the day I received a slip of paper, ordering me to
drop everything I was doing and report to boot camp two hours away from my
hometown. From then on I started to lead my life, not by days and months, but
my minutes and hours. It was the longest three years of my life.
Did I have any choice? Not much. Intelligent people were able to delay the inevitable by
going to college and only had to serve for two years after they graduated, but
those of us dummies who failed to get into college had no such luck.
The government might have tried her best to convince us it was an honorable thing
to serve the country, but it all sounded like empty propaganda and awfully
unconvincing. Three golden years of my youth were robed from me, which was to
me totally unnecessary and unwarranted.
Thirty thousand people had to delay what they were doing and participate in an
enterprise that had an eternal significance to it. They weren’t just doing some
meaningless chore or being trained to fight a phantom war like I was doing
during those years; they were building a holy temple for the Lord. How awesome
Some of them might have been convinced of the greatness of the project and answered the call
to duty willingly, but most of them simply treated it as necessary evil and did
what it took to survive another day in hard labor. What they were commanded to
do wasn’t optional.
Thirty thousand men had to forsake their dreams to fulfill one person’s dream, and it
would have been so worthwhile if that one person’s aspiration was truly
inspired by the Lord. I think it turned out to be the case for all of them, for
which they should be very thankful. Not many people had the privilege to build
the house of God, which only occurred but a few times in human history.