1 Kings 9:25 Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.
The details of King Solomon’s enigmatic life are a solemn warning to God’s people of every age – which is probably why they are inscripturated in God’s Word (cf 1 Corinthians 10:11).
We are told that God blessed Solomon with exceptional wisdom (3:5-12), and that God had made it very clear to him that continued blessing was contingent upon the King’s faithful commitment to the LORD’s revealed ways as David, his father, had exemplified (9:4-5). So, in today’s verses we find Solomon formally going through all the ‘outward actions’ of ‘obedience’, giving all the appearances of compliance with these instructions.
But we know from many of the other details of his life – such as his many marriages of convenience outside the Covenant line, and his susceptibility to the ‘temptation and trap’ of the ‘love of money’ which Paul warns us is ‘the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:9-10) – that he had a very ‘divided heart’. Perhaps Jesus had Solomon’s bad example in mind when he declared in his Sermon on the Mount: “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24).
In the light of the warning of Solomon’s life, I find it helpful to reflect on the lyrics of Rob Smith’s song: “Give me an undivided heart that I might fear your name; teach me to walk in righteous paths and follow in your ways; for you are gracious and forgiving, hear, O Lord, and answer me. Give me an undivided mind that I might love your word; help me to hunger for your voice and know your Spirit’s sword; for you are good, your truth unchanging, life is found in serving you. Undivided – I want to live for you; single-minded – all that I say, all that I do, sanctify me, take me and make me new that I might live for Christ, my Lord. Give me an undivided love for all that you desire, make me a living sacrifice; ignite in me your fire; for you, O Lord, are God eternal, all my ways are known to you.”
Yes, King Solomon made ALL the prescribed ‘outward’ sacrifices, at all the prescribed times, according to the prescribed ‘rules’, but, as the Apostle Paul commands: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).