In your reading of the Bible, you might have noticed that there has been some great drama in the life of David, with his family, and in the transition of the kingdom from David to his son Solomon. But the wisdom of Solomon shows up quickly. 2 Chronicles begins with this account: “Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” When the Lord is with a nation, they become exceedingly great!

I like the English Standard Translation of the Bible, but this verse falls short of the original Hebrew intent. The conjunction “and” should be translated “for” or “because,” as the Handbook for Translators suggests.”[1] This connects Solomon’s success with God. It’s not that Solomon was great, “and” God was with him. It should be understood that Solomon was great “because” God was with him. The same language is used concerning Joshua when he succeeded Moses. God advanced them and God sustained them, and God brought success in their leadership roles. The story of Solomon’s reign, his building enterprises, and his wisdom will occupy a large portion of the 2nd Chronicles. Even in light of his many weaknesses, which 2nd Chronicles seems to leave out, we are reminded “…that Solomon began his reign by seeking God. Here, as elsewhere, it is not the specific facts of Solomon’s reign but the principles behind it that the Chronicler stresses. The postexilic Jews, like Israel after the death of David, faced an uncertain future. The right place to begin was with God. His favor and direction alone could give health and peace to the nation.”[2] That Solomon was able to establish himself as King of Israel was only possible because of God’s blessings.

Pratt summarizes this idea regarding Solomon by saying, “His successes were not the result of human schemes or tyranny. They resulted from God’s blessing.”[3]  It wasn’t that Solomon was such a great politician or wise leader. It was because he followed in His father’s footsteps in his desire to serve the one true God. The Kingdom of Israel had its greatest successes during the life of Solomon. The kings that brought the downfall of the nation of Israel after Solomon did not do so because they were not good politicians. They brought Israel down because they failed to seek God. One web writer observes that this has become America’s problem as well, “The greatest problem our country is facing today is not political; it is spiritual. We are experiencing the consequences of a nation that has turned its back on God. We have replaced His laws with sinful laws that embrace all manner of debauchery. What we so desperately need are leaders who are wise enough to recognize this fact and bold enough to address the problem. Our churches, schools, government, even the Supreme Court, have been infiltrated by atheists who fight against God and all that is good and moral. Abortion and homosexual marriage, both of which are against God’s law, are now being celebrated, even by many who call themselves Christians.”[4] There have been several legal battles to remove from our pledge of allegiance, “One nation under God.” That has not been accomplished yet, but it seems it has been accomplished in practical ways. God has been removed from much of our public life in America.

[1] Omanson, Roger L., and John E. Ellington. 2014. A Handbook on 1-2 Chronicles. Edited by Paul Clarke, Schuyler Brown, Louis Dorn, and Donald Slager. Vol. 1 & 2. United Bible Societies’ Handbooks. Miami, FL: United Bible Societies.

[2] Thompson, J. A. 1994. 1, 2 Chronicles. Vol. 9. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Pratt, Richard L., Jr. 2006. 1 and 2 Chronicles: A Mentor Commentary. Mentor Commentaries. Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.