Sunday, July 29, 2012

Four Kings - Only Two Pair

I happened to be listening to the “wisdom books” a while ago, and it dawned on me that Solomon wrote much of what we have as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes with the intention of educating his son as he prepared to take the throne of Israel.  It’s a good endeavor, to be sure, and a concept we would do well to emulate.  The legacy we leave to our children and those we may teach and mentor is important.  They will stand in the gaps we do and to take the job of preparing them seriously is a good thing.  But if all it consists of is “book learning”, then I’m afraid we will miss the mark.  Perhaps that’s what happened between Solomon, widely regarded as the wisest ruler of his day and his son Rehoboam - who was the last king of the divided nation and a pretty nasty guy from all accounts I read.

Fast forward a few generations and you find another record of a “good” king.  Hezekiah is ruling Judah and the records show “he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD”.  But the king got sick and God’s prophet came to tell him that he would not recover.  Hezekiah turned over in his bed and whined about it until God sent the prophet back to tell him that he would live another fifteen years.  Apparently, this fixed allotment of time made another king lacks in his fathering, because three years later, the next king was born and when Manasseh took the throne at the tender age of twelve, the records show his fifty-five year reign to be among the most wicked on record for the tiny kingdom of Judah.

So, it dawned on me that these two stories represented four kings.  And anybody who knows anything about playing cards can tell you that four kings is a very strong hand.  But rather than representing four-of-a-kind, these four kings amount to no more than two pair.  Two pair, in all the rules I read, is on the lower end of the pecking order.  So what should have been a show of strength, really wasn’t.  What should have been a legacy of lessons bathed in wisdom and the goodness of God instead resulted in two young kings with rebellious attitudes who took a nation and drove it to division, then drove it further into captivity.  Not a pretty picture when you look at it a few thousand years later.

The Crooked Path provides me an opportunity not only to learn from what I experience, but to pass that learning on to the next generation.  My daughters and others who I will influence have a huge task ahead of them.  This world isn’t getting any easier as the Story progresses toward its climax.  Evil doesn’t just go away on its own, and preparing myself and the next generation for the battle is a serious task.  Mere book learning just won’t cut it - it never did.

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