Now one of the things that I appreciate about the Old Testament Scriptures is (as my professor taught me) that they present the “stories- warts and all.” There are a number of difficult things about the Old Testament that shock our conscience. In short, the OT has some bloody scenes in it. We struggle to reconcile these things MOSTLY because we look at them through our own cultural lens. This makes discerning meaning more difficult. Because of this, sometimes we will attempt to make a historical account into an allegory or “spiritualize” an event that is simply historical. Frankly, this is unnecessary and is destructive to the practice of studying God’s Word.
The first chapters of this book reflect a struggle for power. With David’s death on the horizon, there was a power-vacuum looming and two factions sought to fill it. Adonijah did politics and popular appeal. He fed the people, was good-looking, and touched the bases with all of the key influencers. He exalted himself to the place of king so that he would be the people’s presumptive choice. Then there was Solomon whom David chose to replace himself (but only after a little manipulation by Nathan and Bathsheba). Following David’s death, Solomon was faced with a choice…learn to tolerate the competing faction, or destroy them. He chose the latter and it was the right choice.
That is the historical account. Certainly we should not try to apply the actions of Solomon in our own lives (since killing your opposition is generally frowned upon). However, we can apply the principle. When we are seeking a new start as holy people, there can be no compromise with evil. Imagine making brownies. You mix the batter with all of the good ingredients but add a few pellets of mouse droppings. Just a few. In the mix of all that is made, it is statistically improbable that 99% of the bites of the brownies could contain the droppings…but who is going to tolerate even those odds? Not me! Not you! If we were making brownies we would expect 100% or nothing. Period.
In our lives which are far more important than dessert, we have a tendency to lower that standard. We will present our bodies a living sacrifice to the Lord…yet we tolerate sin/evil as part of that sacrifice. Like offering God a potentially tainted brownie. How could we do that? We would never eat those ourselves! How could we offer such a tainted sacrifice to God.
The recipe for holiness requires that we completely remove evil if we are to be holy. All of it. Give the enemy no quarter and allow no sin to persist. This alone is the recipe for holiness. In obeying this instruction, we find that we will be firmly established as God’s chosen people.