Solomon, the son of David was given the honor by God of building his temple. When the temple was complete Solomon offered a prayer of dedication that included an expectation that the temple would stand forever. 1 Kings 8:20-26 NIV says:
“The Lord has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.” Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.1 Kings 8:20-26 NIV
God specifically gave Solomon a wise and discerning heart, so much so that he was considered the wisest man in the world. Even the wisest man was unable to predict a time when a building could be destroyed and yet just a few hundred years later all the work of thousands of men was completely destroyed under the reign of Zedekiah.
2 Kings 25:6-13 NIV says:
Zedekiah was taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. While Zedekiah was looking on, his sons were put to death; then Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah’s eyes put out, placed him in chains, and took him to Babylon. On the seventh day of the fifth month of the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, Nebuzaradan, adviser to the king and commander of his army, entered Jerusalem. He burned down the Temple, the palace, and the houses of all the important people in Jerusalem, and his soldiers tore down the city walls. Then Nebuzaradan took away to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, the remaining skilled workers, and those who had deserted to the Babylonians. But he left in Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and put them to work in the vineyards and fields. The Babylonians broke in pieces the bronze columns and the carts that were in the Temple, together with the large bronze tank, and they took all the bronze to Babylon.
If the wisest man in the world misunderstood God’s plans and directions we need to accept that we will too. This isn’t an excuse and it isn’t something we should be ashamed of, it’s simply that we need to realize as humans we aren’t going to understand the ways of a supernatural and all-powerful God.
What Do We Do When We Get It Wrong?
It takes humility to move forward when we realize we misinterpret God. These days we risk being ostracized. Consider what happened to Jeremiah Johnson. When Pastor Johnson admitted he was wrong about his prophecy 90% of his followers turned against him with hateful messages. He has since completely shifted his ministry. While this may deter us from wanting to honestly reflect on our inaccurate interpretations, Pastor Johnson’s humility and willingness to admit he missed the mark on his prophecy was correct.
When we misinterpret Scripture or misspeak about God’s character:
- It’s best to humbly admit we made a mistake. Full stop. We don’t need to explain this further except to acknowledge we’re human.
- Apologize for the error. Apologizing is important even if we do something unintentionally.
- Correct the original statement with the truth.
- Strive to do better next time.
Do these steps seem too simple? I guarantee the biggest hurdle is going to be admitting the inaccurate statement. Once we accept we made a mistake, the other steps should fall into place.
The other action step that seems to cause people to stumble is the space where we seek to correct the original statement with the truth. Since we tend to live in echo chambers we may find that as we seek to correct our original statements we encounter pushback similar to Pastor Johnson. Hopefully, most people won’t be a cruel as Pastor Johnson’s followers, however, it’s difficult for people to hear and accept that they may need to take a second look at their interpretation.
By leaning on humility and asking the Holy Spirit to help us discern the truth as we’re studying Scripture we will make fewer errors, however, we will never interpret God perfectly, and it’s important to retain a posture of expectation that we may need something corrected.
Solomon Misunderstood Which Temple God Valued the Most
Solomon was certain that the walls of the temple would last forever, but in reality, what lasted was God’s presence near his people. Solomon wanted people to depend on seeing God in the temple he built, but God wants people to identify him in us. 1 Corinthians 6:15 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” and 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
In full context these verses from Paul speak directly to sexual immorality, however, we shouldn’t limit our scope of personally reflecting Christ to this one area. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
Solomon misunderstood how important we are to God, and I think we do as well. Solomon believed the temple he built was more important than the people God called his beloved. Yet only a few hundred years later the temple was in ruins and we are the ones who are invited to live with God in heaven for eternity.