1 Kings and 2 Chronicles – The Opposite of Love
1 and 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles cover the same period of history, with 1 Kings reflected in the first part of 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings in the second half.
1 Kings details the life of Solomon, David’s son, who inherited the throne from his father and became the envy of the entire world, amassing wealth untold and governing with unsurpassed wisdom and knowledge. The second half of the book describes the division of the kingdom which had been united for over seventy years under David and Solomon.
Solomon was a great king and accomplished the building of the temple that his father had dreamed about as well as achieving a level of peace in the country that was uncommon in those days, and, authored several books in the process including much of the Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. But with all his wisdom and achievement came a stumbling block that would be his undoing. We get a glimpse of it in chapter three.
“Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city.” 1 Kings 3:1
As wonderful and grand as the temple was when completed, it is interesting to note that prior to that Solomon focused on building his own palace for almost twice as long. 1 Kings 6:38 and 7:1 record that he spent thirteen years on his palace and seven years on the temple. Does that seem a little out of balance?
Solomon loved the Lord his God, but He also loved himself to an unhealthy extent, even when what he wanted went against God’s word.
“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women…The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.” 1 Kings 11:1-3
To say Solomon pampered himself with whatever he wanted would be an understatement. As you read through 1 Kings you see an accumulation of riches that defies understanding. Self-love is a deceptive thing.
Much of modern theology promotes a Solomon-esque type of self-love. One of loving yourself, pampering yourself, satisfying your every desire and comfort. But this type of love isn’t biblical. The kind of self ‘love’ the Bible talks about is taking care of basic needs and not abusing ourselves. When our body is hungry, we eat. Thirsty, we drink. Cold, seek shelter. This is in keeping with Jesus’ mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves; when we see one hungry or thirsty or hurting, we are called to minister to those needs, as we would for ourselves. That’s love.
But like Solomon, we don’t stop with basic care, we lavish upon ourselves. If I need shoes and find a style I like I buy a pair in every color. If I am hungry I eat, but not just to satisfy the hunger, I gorge myself with giant, unhealthy portions. Why? Because I want to. This focus on self is the core of so many of the world's problems and is really the opposite of love.
You would think the opposite of love is hate, but it isn’t. The opposite of love is self-love. Because real love is outward focused; we love God, we love people, we love our children. Love is recognizing that others possess intrinsic, God-ordained value as people. While self-love isn’t concerned about others at all. In self-love we are concerned only with ourselves and our well being – maybe the well being of our family, but even then only to the extent of how their behavior might affect me. It’s not myopic, it’s ‘me-opic’.
The sin of Solomon was predicted to be the chief characteristic of people in the last days. Paul wrote:
“… in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2
We are living in a time of rampant, unhealthy, unchristian, self-love that has many good and well-meaning people in its evil grip. It is not love, rather, it is the opposite of love.
Don’t aspire to be like Solomon in areas of wealth or power, they were his undoing and in the end, he realized it was all vanity. Instead, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” Philippians 2:3