King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon. – 1 Kings 9:26-28
This passage is one of the passages that gave rise to the famous obsession with “King Solomon’s Mines”. The fiction book, written in 1885 by Sir H. Rider Haggard, tells the story of the epic search for these rich deposits of gold used by Solomon. It was the original “Indiana Jones” story. It has been made into movies numerous times. These lost mines clearly sparked the imagination of both readers and movie-viewers alike.
If the theme of David’s life and rule was conflict and war, it seems that King Solomon will be known for wealth and “industry”. Solomon seems to be more interested in building alliances and trading partners than battling foes. I am not sure why there is this fundamental difference in perspective but clearly David wanted a different life for his son — giving him the name Solomon which means peace.
The connection to water in this passage is brief and difficult to extract much deeper meaning from. The water mentioned, the Red Sea, is not being parted by God, but rather is being used to house a fleet of ships — a navy if you will — that Solomon has put together with the help of Hiram and his “sea fairing” men. In this passage the main purpose of the fleet seems to be to bring back riches (420 talents of gold). There seems to be a focus on acquiring things for Solomon and in displaying those things in a flamboyant and dramatic way.
The tension or dissonance in David’s life was between the relationship he had with God and the distractions of clashing clans; poor moral choices; and broken alliances. It seems Solomon’s relationship with God will have to compete with his love of knowledge, women, and his ability to form earthly alliances and business partnerships. The working out of this tension between each man’s God given talent, and the God who gave it to them, defines their life-trajectories.
This type of tension that David and Solomon are experiencing is not unique to them. I know there is a tension in my life that I think is similar and I suspect I am not alone in this. The tension for me is between a scientific, rational, and naturalistic worldview which I encounter and utilize in my profession as a researcher and scientist; and my emotional, spiritual, and metaphysical desire to follow God where he leads. This blog is an effort to explore, reflect, and hopefully reconcile these two streams of my life. I think David was intermittently successful in resolving the tension in his life and we will see as we learn more about Solomon whether he is able to resolve his life-tension. I know for me the resolution is a process rather than an event.
Prayer: God help us to identify those aspects of our lives which cause tension and make it more difficult to faithfully follow You.