Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hedging Your Bet

If I had to ask what King Solomon was known for, most could probably tell me his wisdom.

He was pretty prudent in his dealings with foreign powers and really made Israel a force to be reckoned.  Solomon makes a marriage alliance with Egypt which was not known for allowing their daughters to be given in marriage to foreign kings.

There is quite a bit of literature in the Hebrew Bible prohibiting marriage to foreigners.

Exodus 34:12-16 (NRSV) reads:

Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you.  You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles (for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).  You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice.  And you will take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.

Of course, in Exodus, the people have just escaped from Egypt.  This seems to be pretty clear language concerning the intermingling of cultures.  The problem is not racial but religious.  We see that as the people were still trying to establish themselves (and their culture) in the promised land, they needed to stay true to their faith in order for it to become established.

We also have a clear sense of intermingling culturally in the Bible.  Moses had already taken a foreign wife.  Solomon's great-great grandmother was a Moabite.  She has a book of the Bible named for her - Ruth!  

The problem with gambling is not the pay-off.
It is that you lose more than you win.
So maybe Solomon had some wiggle room here.  But we also read that the people were sacrificing in the high places because there was no Temple established yet (1 Kings 3:2).  This is an indication that these were local religious shrines that were likely sacrificing to the local deities.  Verse three then tells us that Solomon also continued to sacrifice here as well.  So in a sense, even though Solomon worshiped God, he also worshiped other gods as well.  Was he hedging his bets?

Is this wise to do so?

We can all think of times when we've ridden the fence so as not to offend one side or another.  In today's political climate, things are so polarize that it is difficult to have a middle ground.  However, when it comes to worship, God is very clear about our priorities.

Are we as clear in our devotion?

This Sunday, I'll be preaching on 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14. I hope you'll join us if you are in town!

In Christ,


Photo by By Jamie Adams from Hull, United Kingdom (Poker chips) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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