King Solomon versus King Ahab
King Solomon versus King Ahab
The set of warnings outlined in part of the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 requires Israelites to choose a king who is a native of Israel. The king should neither amass wealth at the expense of his subjects nor acquire many wives, for they will turn his heart away from the Lord. The prospective king is to make a copy of the Law on a scroll and consult it all his life. Additionally, he should fear and adore the Lord in equal measure for him to be blessed by God. The Lord also instructs the king not to deviate from the law that will be issued to him. Failure to adhere warrants a short reign amongst the king’s lineage.
Psalms 72, on the other hand, in a prayer to God by King David, outlines the qualities of a righteous king. In the same chapter, the rewards of a king, who reveres God, are also listed. Among the many traits listed, are his wise and fair judgments when presented with disputes among his subjects, seeking justice for the weak, and defending the helpless. He was given the responsibility of crushing any oppressor of the innocent. Upon fulfillment of all the requirements, the king will be blessed with long life, prosperity, and fame.
An evaluation of the two chapters shows that a good king should be compassionate when dealing with the needy and helpless, should be fair in his decisions when solving conflicts between two feuding parties, and should not lust after women and wealth. Moreover, he should respect the Law of the Lord for as long as he lives. Additionally, the king should not perceive himself as superior to any of his subjects or try to manipulate citizens in any way for personal gain. Based on the requirements described, this paper aims to compare two kings with contrasting styles of leadership while exposing their strengths and shortcomings as leaders chosen by the Lord: Solomon and Ahab.
Solomon was appointed King over Israel by the Lord and declared as heir by his father, King David. This is in spite of his brother Adonijah’s attempts to install himself as King. Bathsheba, King Solomon, and Adonijah’s mother went to King David’s throne upon learning about Adonijah’s selfish quest to request that her other son Solomon be declared King. An ailing King David granted her her wish and pronounced Solomon King of Israel. Adonijah surrendered to Solomon and begged for mercy.
Upon assuming power, one of King Solomon’s acts was compassion towards his brother, Adonijah, who had attempted to steal his throne. However, a short while later, Adonijah’s defiance in requesting to marry his father’s caregiver provoked Solomon to kill him, alongside his other defiant lieutenants. Shortly after, in line with one of the traits of a good kill, slew Joab, his father’s former army commander, to avenge the deaths of two innocent and righteous men, Abner and Amasa.
Additionally, he was granted wisdom by the Lord and was able to give a wise judgment that earned him widespread fame. Two mothers gave birth to baby boys at the same time. One of the mothers lay on her baby in her sleep and killed it. She then exchanged her dead baby with the other live one during the night. They went before the king with their conflict. King Solomon decided to slash the baby in half and offer each mother half of the live boy. The mother offered to give away her baby to keep him alive. King Solomon granted her custody and was lauded far and wide for his wisdom
Due to his humility in asking for understanding from the Lord instead of wealth and long life, God gave him wisdom and more. Kings from other kingdoms paid homage to him and brought him lots of gifts as promised in Psalms 72. People came from very far lands to listen to his wisdom and ask about plants and animals. Solomon revered the Lord so much that he built him an altar and the Lord was very pleased with him.
However, over time, Solomon went to Egypt and married the Pharaoh’s daughter, contrary to the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 17 (McConville, 1989). He went to marry a further 700 wives as well as 300 concubines, disregarding God’s Law in the process. The women turned his heart away from the Lord and made him start worshipping other gods. King Solomon provoked the Lord to raise adversaries against him. When his time to die approached, the Lord punished him from turning away from Him by giving ten tribes to his servant Jeroboam to rule over.
King Ahab was the most condescending of God of all the Kings that came before him. He did a lot more to provoke God than all of his predecessors. He worshipped a god named Baal and Married a wicked woman called Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians, against the Mosaic Law. Moreover, he built his god a temple in Samaria. This provoked God into bringing a drought for several years over Israel. After three years of drought, God used His servant Elijah to show His mighty hand by burning an offering given to Him in front of Baal’s prophets, whose offering remained unburnt, despite fervent prayers.
Despite understanding the requirements for righteousness, Ahab and Jezebel plotted to kill Elijah, the prophet of God. Elijah escaped from them before they caught him. According to Andersen (1996), nonetheless, their wickedness knew no bounds, and they illegally acquired Naboth’s vineyard against his will. Naboth refused to surrender his inheritance but was killed, and his vineyard seized. The Lord showed his displeasure by allowing the enemy to kill Ahab after granting him a few victories over the Syrians.
Comparing the Two Kings
Solomon proved himself to be a better King, in light of both the Mosaic Law requirements and David’s prayer. He was compassionate to the weak, fair in his judgments and revered the Lord. However, he started manifesting his weaknesses after marrying 700 women, many of them foreign and 300 concubines. They made him turn away from the Lord and tarnish his great legacy. He built altars for his other gods and lost ten of the twelve subtribes to relinquish the throne from his lineage.
Ahab, on the other hand, had all the hallmarks of a wicked ruler. He defied God and worshipped Baal. He married an evil foreign woman who did not hesitate to show him he was better than his subjects, contrary to the Mosaic Law and David’s prayer.
Andersen, F. I. (1966). The socio-juridical background of the Naboth incident. Journal of Biblical Literature, 85(1), 46-57.
McConville, J. G. (1989). Narrative and Meaning in the Books of Kings. Biblica, 31-49.
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