A Lamp for David (1 Kings 11:29-36)

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So I’m reading about Elisha and yet I somehow stumble over a couple of passages that relate to a post I wrote about Jesus’s family tree. Go figure.

See, the royal line in Israel originally stemmed out from David (at least after Saul screwed up), a member of the Tribe of Judah, and this all relates to the last words of Jacob, way back in Genesis.

However, while David was a godly man who made mistakes, his son Solomon was less righteous – although best known for his wisdom, Solomon actually ended up getting the kingdom split in two thanks to compromises and drifting away from God.

So two kingdoms – Israel in the north, Judah in the south – with two monarchies. Israel’s royal line is messy, disrupted by rebellions and treachery and made up of dynasties from the various tribes. In the south, things are different, the monarchy remaining in the House of David despite the mistakes made by his descendants. Why the difference?

The difference is in a promise made to the House of David in 1 Kings 11:36 (“I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.”.) Thanks to David’s loyalty to God, the Tribe of Judah would remain a royal line centred on Jerusalem – specifically the Temple.

It’s a big deal, placing David at the centre of promises that stretch from Judah to Jesus. “A lamp for David” crops up a couple more times, in Psalm 132 and 2 Kings 8:19. It’s an evocative image, a picture of an eternal flame burning in the midst of turmoil and destruction, of the lights still on at home while a people get dragged off into exile. It’s a picture of hope.

And all this comes about because of the faith of one man.

Interesting, isn’t it?

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