Saturday, October 4, 2014

II Chronicles 1

In II Chronicles 1, God asks Solomon at Gibeon what he wants God to give to him.  Solomon responds in v 10 (KJV): “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

This stood out to me for a couple reasons:

1.  I have read more than one scholar say that Solomon’s wisdom functions differently in Chronicles than it does in I Kings.  In I Kings, Solomon wants wisdom to judge the people, and that wisdom is put on display when Solomon judges between the two prostitutes who are each claiming that a baby is their own.  In Chronicles, however, we see none of that, and Solomon’s wisdom is specifically for the construction of the Temple.

I would say that Solomon in II Chronicles 1 wants wisdom so that he can judge the people, just like Solomon does in I Kings.  At the same time, I do not dismiss the scholarly argument that Solomon’s wisdom in Chronicles functions primarily for the construction of the Temple.  The Chronicler focuses on that, and Solomon’s father, King David, says in I Chronicles 29:1: “Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God” (KJV).  From what David says, one can see that Solomon needs help and wisdom for the great task of constructing the Temple!

2.  Solomon says that he needs wisdom so that he can go out and come in before the people.  The phrase “go out and come in” stood out to me.  I had assumed that it meant going out and coming in for war.  But why would Solomon go out and come in for war?  The Chronicler says more than once that Solomon is a man of peace, whereas Solomon’s father David was a man of war.  That is why Solomon gets to build the Temple, while David did not.

Raymond Dillard in the Word Biblical Commentary believes that the phrase “is ordinarily used in a military sense of leading an army (I Chr 11:2; I Sam 18:13, 16),” but that, in the case of Solomon, a “man of peace” according to the Chronicler, it “refers to adequate civil government.”  As far as I can see, Dillard does not defend the idea that going out and coming in can have a broader meaning than leading an army.

I would say, though, that the phrase can have a broader meaning.  I think of the blessing in Deuteronomy 28:6: Blessed shall you be when you go in and come out.  The HarperCollins Study Bible interprets that to mean whatever a person does, citing Deuteronomy 31:2 and Psalm 121:8.  May God bless you as you live life!  I cannot prove that these passages do not pertain to battles, but it is plausible to me that they are broader in scope.

Solomon in II Chronicles 1:10 is probably saying that he needs God’s help to conduct himself as king.

UPDATE: Tobit 5:18 uses the expression of going in and out in a non-military context.  "And his mother began to weep, and said to Tobit, 'Why is it that you have sent my child away?  Is he not the staff of our hand as he goes in and out before us?...'"  (NRSV).  

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