At times, the book of 1 Kings can be depressing. We watch from the sidelines as Israel disobeyed and rebelled against the God who loved them and provided for them. Our shoulders slump as we see God punish them with increasingly strong punishments.
And, living in a day when judging is a bad word, how do we reconcile the love of God and the justice of God? Isn’t God being harsh, overbearing, and tyrannical? How can we love a god who behaves this way? In response to those concerns, it is important for us to remember that God warned Israel of the consequences of disobedience again and again. He wanted them to avoid sin.
After he finished building the Temple, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time (vv. 1–2). Solomon was not surprised when God warned him to stay the course, to follow the path, and to remain faithful to the covenant (vv. 4–5). He warned Solomon of punishment if the king or the people disobeyed. “I will cut off Israel from the land” (v. 7). “This Temple will become a heap of rubble” (v. 8). God wasn’t telling Solomon anything he didn’t already know.
Again and again, God warned Israel not to sin and gave them clear instructions on what’s righteous and what’s sinful behavior. Israel’s God was never random, unpredictable, or given to changing the rules on a whim. The covenant He made with His people at Mt. Sinai clearly laid out the blessings and curses that awaited the people based on their behavior.
These rules were not directed at making them God’s people. They already were His people. Rather, these were aimed at enticing them to enjoy fellowship with God! If they were faithful, they would enjoy His blessing. Unfaithfulness would bring judgment.
>> We may not always experience the consequences that our choices deserve. When this happens, it isn’t a sign that God endorses our actions but a sign that He gives space to repent (Rom. 2:4).
In Your grace You often spare us the full consequences that we justly deserve for wrong actions. Thank You, God, for Your kindness, which You extend even in discipline. May we grow through our mistakes and their consequences.