Flawed Vision: The Trouble of Cultural Morality

FLAWED VISION

What Comes First1 Kings 6:38 - 7:1 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it. 1 It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

 


In recent years we have witnessed a tendency to view and make judgments about historical events through a current day culturally influenced system of morality.

This practice is fine if the cultural morality follows Biblical dictates and convictions, but otherwise leads to a manipulated understanding of those historical events.

Even more disturbing is to see these practices applied to Biblical accounts.

In 1 Kings 6 and 7, we find detailed the building of the Temple in Jerusalem and the building of Solomon's Palace. Solomon spent 7 years building the Temple but 13 years building his palace.

MansionI have heard several messages that intimate the beginnings of blossoming sin on Solomon's behalf for spending more time on his own opulent dwellings than he did on the dwelling place of God. Such a sentiment is a direct result of viewing this Biblical account through today's culturally influenced sense of morality.

Our cultural influences have created a mentality of class envy within us: we are told that those who excel do so at the expense of others around them; we hear phrases about the wealthy that they need to be made to "pay their fair share".

When we study the Biblical text, these cultural influences dictate new meanings to us, which were never intended by the text.

For Solomon, the building of the Temple was by specific design. David wanted to build the Temple but God told him through a prophet that it would be his son who would build it instead; but God gave David the architectural design for the Temple. David spent his remaining days storing up resources for the building of the Temple.

The building of the Temple by Solomon
represents the validity of God's Word. He said that David's son would build the Temple, and he did, and it was built in accordance with the plans that God provided, having taken 7 years.

The building of Solomon's Palace
represents the faithfulness of God's Word.

1 Kings 3:11-13
11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this [wisdom] and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both wealth and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

What this teaches us, far from symbolizing Solomon's descent into materialism at the expense of those around him is that God is a promise-keeper. God keeps his word. When God declares His intentions, you can rely on that declaration, you can believe it's going to happen, you can trust that this will be the outcome, you can have faith that it will be accomplished!

The luxuriousness of Solomon's palace is a vivid fulfilment of what God said he would do. He said, I will give you SO MUCH WEALTH, that you will never have an equal as long as you live.

This was God's purpose for his life, God's plan and desire for Solomon. We deceive ourselves and pervert the scriptures when we let our cultural morality seep into our understanding of God's word.

To further illustrate how we have modified the meaning of God's word through our cultural influences, note what the commentators of the previous generations felt about these verses.

John Gill (1697 – 1771) wrote: He made more haste with the house of God than with his own, for that was but seven years in building; which showed greater regard to the honour of God then to his own glory, or even convenience; nor was this built till after that:

John Gill's take was that Solomon showed greater regard for the Lord by building the Temple first and more quickly, than it took him to build his own home, being inconvenienced for a lengthier period of time during the construction.

Matthew Henry (1662 – 1714) wrote: Much of the comfort of this life is connected with an agreeable house. He was thirteen years building this house, whereas he built the temple in little more than seven years; not that he was more exact, but less eager and intent, in building his own house than in building God’s. He was in no haste for his own palace, but impatient till the temple was finished and fit for use. Thus we ought to prefer God’s honour before our own ease and satisfaction.

Matthew Henry believed that Solomon showed greater honor for the Lord by diligently completing this work instead of providing a comfortable place for himself first.

John Wesley (1703 – 1791) wrote: The royal palace for himself, and for his successors. Thirteen years - Almost double the time to that in which the temple was built; because neither were the materials so far provided and prepared for this, as they were for the temple: nor did either he or his people use the same diligence in this, as in the other work; to which they were quickened by God's express command.

John Wesley felt that more diligence was applied to the building of the Temple because the work was performed in answer to the expressed command of God.

Somewhere along the line, through the cultural influences of our society, we now look back at these same verses and criticize Solomon for his opulence and waste, we condemn him for his extravagance at the expense of others when we should be praising God for fulfilling his word and keeping his promise – Just as He always does!