10:1-11:13 - ‘King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth’ (23). It sounds impressive – until you look more closely at Solomon’s life! What else does God’s Word tell us about him? – ‘His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God… Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely… His heart had turned away from the Lord… Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command’ (11:4,6,9-10). When everything seems to be going well, God invites us to look beneath the surface, to look a little deeper. Great words had been spoken about Solomon (10:9). Now, everything had gone sour. Solomon had lost the place. This can happen to any of us. We can lose our way. Read the story of Solomon as a warning: Don’t let this happen to you! Stay close to God.
11:14-12:24 - Life can be a very slippery slope. You can go downhill very quickly – if you’re not careful! Solomon let things slide – and he was never the same again. He fell – and he never got back up again. After he died, there was ‘rebellion’ – and it lasted for a long time (12:9). It was bedlam. Chaos reigned. The people couldn’t agree among themselves. Everybody was pointing the finger at somebody else. What did God have to say about all this? – ‘Do not go up to fight against your brothers…’ (12:24). God’s Word seems so simple. We’re the ones who make everything so complicated – when we’re looking out for ourselves, when we’re forgetting to listen for God’s Word. We need to stop giving off – ‘This is what I think’. We need to start listening. What are others saying? What is the Lord saying?
12:25-13:34 - These were dark days for God’s people. They were deeply divided. There was the northern kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam was their ‘big man’. There was the southern kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam was the ‘voice’ of the south. What a shambles it all was! Each side seemed intent on outdoing the other – ungodliness. Sin reigned in the north (13:33-34). Sin reigned in the south (14:22-24). The ‘big man’ was not so big in the eyes of the Lord. The ‘voice’ did not speak the Word of the Lord. Was there any hope? Yes! There was an unnamed ‘man of God’ who spoke ‘the Word of the Lord’ (13:1). In all the confusion of these difficult times, God was planning for a better future. His Word concerned Josiah: ‘a son shall be born…’ (2). We look beyond Josiah to Jesus: ‘to us a Child is born… a Son…’ (Isaiah 9:6-7).
14:1-15:8 - It makes depressing reading – a lot of bad news from the north (16), a lot of bad news from the south (22). Many people wondered, ‘Will there be peace in my lifetime?’. Sadly, the hostilities continued for a very long time (15:6). Were there no glimmers of hope? Was there no light at the end of the tunnel? Had God given up on the situation? There is a Word of hope: ‘The Lord will raise up for Himself a king…’ (14). There is good news. God is raising up ‘an army of ordinary people, a kingdom where love is the key’. What part can God’s ‘ordinary people’ play in His extraordinary purpose? – A very important part: ‘The Church is here for healing of the nations’ (Songs of Fellowship, 20,216). Can there be healing? Yes! – if there is love. Don’t give up hope: ‘May the God of hope…’(Romans 15:13)!
15:9-16:28 - A lot of kings are mentioned here. We soon lose track of their names. With one solitary exception, they are all better forgotten than remembered. Thank God for the one glimmer of light: ‘Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… The heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days’ (15:11, 14). We need more people like Asa. God is looking foe people who will stand out from the crowd, people who will dare to be different. Pleasing the Lord is more important than pleasing people. It is so easy to forget this. We want to be popular. This is all that matters to us. If we are serious about following Jesus, we must be prepared to go it alone: ‘Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow’ (Mission Praise, 272). Let’s honour God – in our attitudes and actions.
16:29-18:16 - Things were getting desperate: ‘Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him’ (33). What did God do about this? How did He respond to this situation? God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up for God against Ahab. ‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him’ (Isaiah 59:19). Where did Elijah come from? He came from God! All we know about Elijah’s early life is expressed in the words: ‘Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead’. There is something else we know about him. He was a man of God. He was a man with a message, a man who spoke in the Name of the Lord the God of Israel’ (17:1). Things happened when Elijah was around. This was the Spirit of God at work – in power!
18:17-19:21 - Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very high point. He prayed. ‘The fire of the Lord fell’. ‘All the people said, ‘The Lord, He is God’’ (37-39). This was followed by a very low point: ‘O Lord, take away my life’ (4). We are so changeable. Often, we feel like we are being torn apart. Our emotions pull us in different directions. Sometimes, we are full of joy. At other times, we are at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused emotions. What are we to do? Are we to ‘pull ourselves together’? This seems to be the very thing we can’t manage to do. Are we to ‘hope for the best’ – ‘Some day, some way, things will get better’? We think about this, and we wonder, ‘What happens if things get worse?’! Look to the Lord. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.