Thursday, December 6, 2007

Observations from 1 Kings, #2

And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment. (1 Kings 3:28)
This verse is the conclusion of the story about the two women who both had babies and one had died; when Solomon proposed using a sword to divide the remaining living child between them, the true mother was easy to identify.

It is the people's reaction that is interesting: The people "feared the king" because he had "the wisdom of him, to do judgment." This is, in this way, similar to the concept of the "fear of the Lord," which in part exists because God, as the Holy Judge of the universe, will judge His created beings. Therefore, we fear Him. Likewise, it is proper for children to have a small but healthy degree of "fear" of their parents, as they should recognize that (1) the parents are wise and (2) the parents are God's instruments of judgment, should the children sin.

This idea of fear (of God, or of parents) is not based in the ability of the superior/stronger to inflict pain and suffering—it must be based in the idea that the superior/stronger can administer righteous judgment: Judgment based on the true and righteous Word of God. It is an unpopular idea today that sin (which we all commit) merits judgment, and just as unpopular that God may even allow human beings, such as parents, teachers, or law enforcement, to be the "bearers of judgment."

And as all good Christian parenting books teach, judgment must be based in love. God loves us—obviously, a more popular sermon topic today than His judgment—and likewise, parents must love their children. (For that matter, teachers should love students, police should love the residents of their community, etc.)

At least in the early years of his reign, I think that Solomon did love the people of Israel; and we know that he had wisdom, as God gave him much. Therefore, the people's reaction, as described in this verse, is appropriate.

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