One of the many important lessons I learned during seminary was the idea of “minority reports.” No, not the movie. It was the knowledge of reports on stories particularly in the Hebrew scriptures. The minority reports give us another way of looking at the story, a way that is commonly overlooked.
King Solomon is one of those characters that deserves the second look. My family bible had a picture of King Solomon in it. King Solomon: the righteous judge. Remember the story of the two women both claiming to be the mother of a baby? That picture formed my opinion of King Solomon. He was wise! And that is the majority report on King Solomon.
The dedication of the temple seems pretty fantastic. But wait! Go back a few chapters in 1Kings and see all that is reported as happening. Beginning in chapter 4: how provisions were made for King Solomon’s household and what those provisions were. (Hint: one days worth was overwhelming) Chapter 5 speaks of preparations and materials for the temple. As Andrea reminded us, King Solomon did not build the temple himself. He conscripted forced labor out of all Israel: thirty thousand men. It was difficult labor, cutting great costly stones for the foundation of the temple. They were not paid for this labor. This would have been a great injustice for these men. Time and labor not for the benefit of their families. And, of course, the temple was not the only building. King Solomon’s home and other buildings along with all the vessels for them. Seriously, take a look. It is as if all these buildings show how grand King Solomon was! It is history written by the winners.
But we know the rest of the story. The country divided and fell apart. What King Solomon thought was the thing to do as King was not a thing to help his people. When I read this now, I remember the Amos 5 reading:
“I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
This is not a minority report on any particular event, only on the emphasis on how those with much believing that their “muchness” shows favor from God. God’s justice and righteousness is about caring for the people which was not in King Solomon’s agenda. As we come to this dedication of God’s temple in our readings this Sunday, we will remember the rumblings of the “minority report.” All was not well, and the nation would suffer for it.
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