The Societal Machine and King Solomon

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At Lockerbie Central United Methodist, we have been going through the story of King David and his family.  This story concludes next week.

In the above video from the Everything Must Change tour and Work of the People, Brian Mclaren states that civilization is driven by the need for prosperity ,security, and equity. He calls this the “societal machine.”

Though words like “prosperity” and “security” might have negative connotations (sounds like a right-wing or even fascist campaign slogan), a good society makes sure that all people have access to these realities.

This week in the Hebrew Bible part of the Revised Common Lectionary (11th Sunday after Pentecost), King David dies after forty years on the throne and his son Solomon replaces him.  It is during this context that Solomon tells God:

3:9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

3:10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

This should be a good sign for the people of Israel; an opportunity for people to have access to genuine prosperity, equity, and security.

It turns out that Solomon falls down the deep pit that almost consumed his father. Deuteronomy 17 warns:

6But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.17Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

Moses did not leave Egypt so that his ancestors would live under a Hebrew Pharoah in the promised land.  While David struggled with this, Solomon is destroyed by it.  He acquires great wealth and power at the expense of the people and he is the last King to rule over a united Judah and Israel.

This struggle between power for oneself and creating a just society is a central conversation in the bible.  Mclaren nails it when he talks about a good society being one that offers genuine and authentic security, prosperity, and equity.  Its one that all kings struggle with and Solomon’s decision to turn away from his God granted ability to “discern good from evil” has since become an an age old crisis.


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