"And I understood that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,
or riches to the smart,
for no man knows what counts - the brevity of his time.
All are snared at an evil time, which suddenly comes upon them". Solomon.
How swiftly we fall.
Not many would have thought in those heady days of the building and dedication of the temple (1 Kings 5-10) that Israel was fast approaching calamity. Perhaps a few would have looked back at the tragedy that had been seen in the wilderness or in some of the events of the times of the Judges or Saul. Perhaps there may have even been a thought about how close this moment had come to being utterly removed (1 Kings 1), but most, no doubt, were captivated by the splendor and marvel of all that transpired in those halcyon days which, as the Queen of Sheba would discover, was enough to literally take your breath away.
We would I suspect have been no different, and why not?
These were the days when some of the most wonderful passages of the Old Testament were framed and written - the poetry of the psalms and the song of songs. It must have been a marvel upon all the senses and the powers of comprehension to see and consider what Jerusalem said to the world at that moment,
but Solomon was right about his assessment of us - it was entirely accurate.
His own gaze would turn from the one who had bestowed such wonder to become obsessed by the wonder itself. Beauty, when uncoupled from it's true source, can become as venomous to our wayward hearts as any other vice, and this great mans downfall was sure once his desire for such become what truly mattered. How easily such compromise finds an ally inside us, however close to heaven we have walked!
The consequences prove fatal (1 Kings 11:9, 12:16), and a process of decline rots the state of the land until the polarization between God and most of the people is palpable, even in the weather! (1 Kings 17:1). In the brevity of the speedy reigns of five bad Kings, Israel had indeed become a habitation for total wickedness and corruption, where power was used defy God and to arbitrarily remove whatever stood in its way, which brings me to the real point of this overview.
It's easy for us to look at the story of a man like Elijah and revel in a moment like that on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), but look at the real wickedness that made this man, on many occasion, fear for his life, and you gain a far more candid understanding of those days. It wasn't that God's power didn't shake people, but most days - before and after carmel, it was the blood on the floor from the hand of Ahab and Jezebel that made the people afraid and caused Elijah to flee for his life (1 Kings 19) - that is the reality of this world when sin reigns and we become its captives.
The 'glory' of the days of Solomon was that moment when we saw the glimpse of heaven on earth in the focus upon the temple - the true beauty of God amidst us once more. All the sacrifices and offerings spoke to the fact that such a glory was beyond us - it was something that God Himself must bring, and bring He would, in the promise He gave to Abraham and the line of David, that a true King would come and make us His, that a true temple, where all of life would be sourced from that King, would fill the earth.
This world is indeed as we see it in these events, but the temple of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ - the corner stone is laid, and we can have confidence, that beyond the tragedy of today, there is a brighter day than Solomon's to come.