By Tyson Thorne

March 12, 2019

GradeOfThrones Large

Comedian Dennis Miller once said, "It's silly to hate anyone based on their religion or the color of their skin when, if you took the time to really get to know them, you could find so many better reasons to hate them." The point is, people are complicated. Nowhere in Scripture is this more evident than in the relationship between Kings David and Solomon with Elohim. They are considered Israel's greatest kings, but were they really? How do they measure up against God's guide for kings? That guide is given to everyone in Deuteronomy, so we can judge for ourselves.

Dr. Mark Gignilliat of Knox Theological Seminary in his lecture series on the Old Testament painstakingly reveals how Kings and Samuel show the history of Israel in a golden light, while Chronicles show the dark side of that same history. Based on details we see (or don't see) in these narratives, however, it is difficult to develop a complimentary view of David's or Solomon’s rule when viewed adjacent to Deuteronomy 17.14-20. For the purpose of discussion, we'll break the passage down as ten imperatives and presented as a report card:

Kings ReportCard

David and Solomon pass the first test due to circumstances beyond their control. The second test (that of accumulating horses) David passes because he didn’t intend to have a huge stable (2 Samuel 8.4). Solomon on the other hand, amassed 40,000 horses -- many of them from Egypt (1 Kings 4.26). Both kings fail regarding the accumulation of wives, though again David shows some restraint (likely less than 20 wives, only 8 of whom are named) whereas Solomon shows no discipline obtaining 700 wives (1 Kings 11.3). Regarding wealth, David clearly has some (2 Samuel 7.1-2), Solomon surpassed David, his fortunes represented as rooms of treasure rather than any kind of numerical value. This may not have been Solomon’s fault, however, as God had promised to make him wealthy (1 Kings 3.13). Due to the evidence presented so far, it is clear neither pass the test to carry and study the rules daily. If they had, some measure of success, rather than blatant disregard, would be apparent. The remaining five are judgment calls. Reverence for God is something that David passes as even in his failures he always repents. Solomon fails, however, having turned to idol worship later in life (1 Kings 11.4). Both fail the remaining four tests.

Considering this, how is it that God calls David a man after his own heart and allowed Solomon to build his temple? As we mentioned at the start, people are complicated. What we learn from David’s call may provide the best answer: “God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16.7b).

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