Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hidden Disloyalty

"Solomon brought Pharaoh's daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said, 'My wife shall not live in the house of David king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of the Lord has come are holy'." (2 Chron. 8:11)

Solomon has just completed building the temple of the Lord, dedicating it with joy and prayer (chp. 7). He begins a period of wider building once the temple and his house are build. He takes cities from rival people, builds walls and gates, establishes fortified supply cities throughout, and places the men of Israel in key leadership positions (8:1-10). He offers burnt offerings, observes the special feasts commanded in the Law, and organizes temple worship in keeping with David's commands, finishing all the work before him (8:12-18).

But in the middle of all this accomplishment, verse 11 sticks out like a giant aching thumb. The king has an Egyptian wife; he has married outside of Israel. Apparently, he recognizes something of the inconsistency. He decides that an unholy wife shouldn't live in the places made holy by the ark's presence.

(House of Pharaoh's Daughter - King Solomon's wife or Queen - King Solomon's Citadel)

But is this repentance? Is this turning from the act of disobedience? Of a sort, perhaps? But it's hardly warfare against sin. It would seem to be the mandatory motions of religious sensibility, which demand a certain decorum but neglects deeper realities.

We don't wish to beat up on Solomon as though inconsistency belongs to him alone. How often are we tempted to coddle our sins in more secret places, out of sight of the Most Holy, rather than repent of it altogether and casting it out of our lives completely? How tempting it is to keep our sins safely tucked away for future use rather than hating and killing our sin. We're not too unlike Solomon whenever we make political alliances with our sins instead of abandoning ourselves more completely to God.

Even if all around us is success, we may then be laying the grounds for our own defeat. Visible success is no measure of genuine godliness. Outward results may simply mask inward failure. And the seed of our failure is planted in the secret, safe grounds of far away houses that the godly among us cannot observe. We all have places in us where we may hide and store things, places no one has access to unless we open it to them. Those are the most dangerous places of all. Those are the places most needing light. the things we place there are the things most needing discovery and death because they're ultimately the most dangerous and damning.

Oh, Lord, keep me from delighting in secret sin. Keep me from building private residences for disobedience. Make me ruthless with all that opposes your holy word and your glorious Name. Do this with all you people, O Lord, our Sovereign King and Redeemer.

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