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7.4 Solomon And David  

7-4-1 Parental Expectation

One of the reasons for Solomon's strange mixture of spirituality and   carnality,   not   to   mention   his   supreme  spiritual self-assurance,  was  the  fact  that Solomon's faith was almost completely  on account  of  his living out parental expectation. Those fundamental problems of Solomon are at the root of much of our  difficulty  in living dynamic spiritual life today: we have the  'little  of  both'  syndrome,  and  are far too spiritually self-assured.  The  real  possibility  of  failure and rejection seems  lost on many of us. For many in the Christian heartlands  of  the  UK, North America and Australia, the reason may  be exactly the same as for Solomon: our spirituality is the result  of living out parental and community expectation, rather than  a  result of being motivated by the fact that Christ loved us,  and  gave  his  life  for  us  so that we might be a people zealous of good works. There can be no doubt that upbringing has a crucial impact upon who we later become. If we seek to truly be new creations, to find a genuine independent identity, to have the Name written which can only be given to us, then we need to be able to decode our Christian backgrounds, taking from them that vital and saving truth which they gave us, and yet not being who and where we are simply by reason of living out parental expectation. 

David's hopes and expectations for Solomon are expressed in Psalm 72, "A Psalm for Solomon". The Hebrew title can equally mean "A Psalm of Solomon". David was so certain that his expectations would be fulfilled. David's prediction that Solomon would wisely judge his people (Ps. 72:2) was perhaps why Solomon asked God to give him wisdom to judge God's people. His wise judgment of the prostitutes, and his willingness to consider such cases, was surely a living out of David's expectation that he would deliver the poor, needy and those with no helper (Ps. 72:12). The prediction that Solomon would be given of the gold of Sheba (Ps. 72:15) was fulfilled by Solomon's willful trading with Sheba to get gold from there, and one wonders whether he in fact invited the Queen of Sheba to visit him in order to fulfil the prediction that the rulers of Sheba would come to him with gifts (Ps. 72:10).

Some  of  you might have heard of a book by Scott Peck, The Road Less  Travelled.  Despite  the drawbacks common to all self-help psychology,   there's   a   lot   in   it   for   Christians.  He  speaks  a  lot  about living out parental expectation.  He  gives examples of people who've lived for many years  as  successful  businessmen,  and then in middle age lose their  parents;  then  they  flip  their  lid,  perhaps becoming farmers  on  some  remote  island, searching for who they really are.  We  are  all only human beings. Inevitably our lives are a living  out  of  parental  and  community  expectation-  to some extent.  Those  of us with generations 'in Christ' behind us, brought  up in a closely knit Christian community, wary of everything  and  anything  outside the community, really need to wake  up  to  the  possibility  that  a  large percentage of our spiritual  life is only living out expectation. This really is a worrying  thought.  As  the  last  days wear on, and even in the mission  fields  the second generation of converts appears, this will  be an increasing problem. Even if we have broken free from parental and community ties in order to be baptized, there still remains  the  possibility  that we have become so involved in our community  that  we too are only living out the expectations  of  our brethren and sisters. The Gospel is a call to  be a new creation, to truly break free of all the strings of our  background,  and  stand alone before God and in this world, having left father and mother to be married to Christ, and bring forth spiritual fruit to his glory and our own salvation. David almost willed Solomon to make God’s promises come true. He told Solomon that God had promised that Solomon would be the Messianic King, if he was strong [AV “constant”] to do God’s commandments. And so, David urges Solomon to be “strong” [s.w.] (1 Chron. 28:7, 10,20) to as it were make God’s promises come true. On one level, David was being a good spiritual parent to his son. Yet one suspects that David was so filled with pride that his son could be Messiah that he was urging Solomon almost for his [David’s] sake to be obedient… And this can be seen happening in the psychology of the best Christian families. Parental expectation is lived out initially in spiritual matters, but the heart of the son or daughter can still be unconverted.  

In so many ways Solomon is a believer gone wrong. We have shown  in  our study of Solomon and the temple that David firmly expected  Solomon  to  be  the eternal Messianic King; he wildly over-interpreted  God's  promises in such a way as to imply that Solomon would build a literal temple and have the full Messianic Kingdom.  Not surprisingly, Solomon unquestioningly accepted his father's  perspective;  and  we  have  seen  that  this  was his undoing.  He “propseroulsy effected” the work of the temple in fulfilment of his father’s hope and expectation that he would “prosper” (s.w.) in this work (1 Chron. 22:11; 29:23; 2 Chron. 7:11). He reigned in the place of his father and “prospered”- just as David had expected of him (1 Chron. 29:23). So  very  very  often  does Solomon speak of " David my father" ,  and  that  God  had made him king " instead of David my father"   (eg  1  Kings  3:7). Thus he asks Hiram to deal with him just as he had done with David his father (1 Kings 5:2-7; and cp. 1 Kings 5:1 with 2 Sam. 5:11). The number of times these phrases occur  in  the  records  is  so  large  that  we  simply have to recognize  that  God  is  pointing something out to us about the relationship  between Solomon and David (1 Kings 2:24,26,32,44; 3:6,7,14; 5:3,5; 6:12; 8:15,17,18,20,24,25,26; 9:4; 11:33; 2 Chron. 1:8,9; 2:3,7,14; 6:4,7,8,10,15,16; 7:17). So often in his prayers to  God does Solomon make reference to David; for example: " Thou hast  showed  unto  thy  servant  David  my  father great mercy, according   as   he   walked   before  thee  in  truth,  and  in righteousness,  and  in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast  kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit upon his throne" (1 Kings 3:6).  

These  words  are  doubtless an allusion to the mercy God showed David  in his relationship with Solomon's mother, Bathsheba. But Solomon  makes no mention of David's great faith in God's grace, and  his  subsequent  appreciation  that  animal sacrifices were meaningless.  These were David's real strong points, but Solomon is obsessed with David's public life of obedience (" according as he  walked " ).  He  evidently  saw his father as the epitomy of spiritual  good,  faultless  in God's sight. " Mercy" and " truth"   both  occur  in  1  Kings  3:6,  and  they  often  refer to the promises.  Solomon seems to have seen the promises to David as a reward for David's good life, rather than an expression of God's unwarranted  grace.  David's  reaction  was  " Who  am  I...?" to receive  such  an  honour.  Solomon's  feeling  was  that  David deserved them because of his righteousness. So here is a feature of  many  parent:child  relationships in the Lord. The children love  and  respect  their parents spiritually, but often for the wrong  reasons;  they  actually  misunderstand their forefathers' spirituality.  This  is  why their understanding of parental and community expectation is often wrong in the first place.