2 Chronicles 9:13-28 – Is God Against Wealth?

Posted: August 10, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 9:13-28

Solomon’s Wealth and Splendor

Opening Illustration/Comments

Is God against us being wealthy? In most everything you read in the Bible, wealthy people are often blinded by their possessions or are evil people. So, one might think that the Bible is against us being wealthy. Even in modern society, those who are wealthy are often seen as aloof, remote, uncaring, and insulated from the real problems of real people and do not think of what their business decisions will do to the common man. It is especially acute it seems in this decade in which we are living presently. There is a growing socialist movement in our country where wealth is seen as sinister and where there is a sense of entitlement where we all should have the same wealth as the wealthy. Thus, there is a common consensus almost, it seems, that wealth is either wrong or at least undesirable for society. But, in free economic systems such as in the United States, people keep getting wealthy.

Some are wealthy for certain because of inheritance, but many wealthy folks have become wealthy during their own lifetimes. Take Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, for example. According to celebanswers.com, Jeff Bezos was not born rich. Bezos’ mother had him when she was seventeen years old and his father Ted was eighteen. The teen pregnancy meant that the two had barely any money to their names. Jeff’s biological father worked at Walmart. His mother was a bank teller and high school student at the beginning of his life. As teenage parents, Jacklyn and Ted did not have much and their marriage quickly fell apart. Ted Jorgensen recalls in this USA Today interview that “”I wasn’t a good father or a good husband.” It was not long after Jeff was born that the two split. When Jeff was four years old, Jackie remarried to Mike Bezos. From his stepdad, Jeff learned of the toughness and grittiness that is needed when you are a poor immigrant and come to America and scratch out a good life through sheer determination. Jeff excelled in school and landed at Princeton, the school from which he graduated in 1986. He held various jobs in the tech start up field and in banking and in investments for the next 8 years, a positive beginning to any career by normal standards. During a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle, he devised the idea for a little company called Amazon. Because of Amazon’s unique nature and its emphasis on delivery speed, it is now the largest online retailer in the world and by 2018, Jeff Bezos had achieved the status of wealthiest man in the world. Amazon began in his garage and he told his family of invested that gave him his start up capital of $200,000 in 1996 that the company would likely fail or go bankrupt within three years. However, for the risks taken by Jeff, leaving his comfortable career and starting a brand new company in his garage, and by family members, they all have been handsomely rewarded for taking those risks.

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many others who have brilliant ideas that no one else has thought of and risk everything to begin garage companies are all great stories of people with vision who have been rewarded for it. More often than not, these folks were often just middle class folks who saw a need that could be filled by their idea and bet everything on that. Wealth comes to those who take risks. But, there are many who would condemn these people as wealthy and greedy but yet where were their critics when these guys were eating peanut butter sandwiches as they started up their companies in their garages? Aren’t we all glad that these guys took the risks they took and made the world a more efficient or easier in some way? Wealth was acquired through ingenuity and smart business management.

So, as we have seen, when economies are allowed freedom to operate, people can be inventive and ingenious and will be rewarded by the economy for their efforts. But, yet, there seems to be this disdain once you are rewarded by the economy. The world seems to love the fact that you are creating a company in your garage, but yet when, the idea takes off and the wealth comes, you are made into a sinister person by the culture in which we live today. Does that come from our biblical roots (even though we are no longer a biblically based society)? Does the Bible disdain wealth and any surface reading of the Bible might imply without studying deeper?

It is that idea of whether the Bible condemns the accumulation of wealth that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 9:13-28. Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

13 The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred sixty-six talents of gold, 14 besides that which the traders and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the land brought gold and silver to Solomon. 15 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of beaten gold; six hundred shekels of beaten gold went into each large shield. 16 He made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three hundred shekels of gold went into each shield; and the king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. 17 The king also made a great ivory throne, and overlaid it with pure gold. 18 The throne had six steps and a footstool of gold, which were attached to the throne, and on each side of the seat were arm rests and two lions standing beside the arm rests, 19 while twelve lions were standing, one on each end of a step on the six steps. The like of it was never made in any kingdom. 20 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon. 21 For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.[a]

22 Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 23 All the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. 24 Every one of them brought a present, objects of silver and gold, garments, weaponry, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year. 25 Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horses, which he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. 28 Horses were imported for Solomon from Egypt and from all lands.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that in accumulating chariots, horses, and much gold, he acquired a huge harem (see 1 Kings 11:1-3) and much, much wealth, Solomon became enamored with his own wealth and power. The more luxurious Solomon’s court became and the ambitious civic projects became, the more the people were taxed. Excessive taxation would lead to a brooding unrest in Israelite society toward the end of Solomon’s reign. As the unrest grew, the country became ripe for revolution. As he became more and more blinded by material possessions and wealth, Solomon allowed ungodly influences to enter his court through his intermarriage with wives who worshiped pagan gods. The spiritual decline of Israel that we read of in the books of Kings and the books of Chronicles begins amidst the glory and splendor that was Israel under Solomon.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that, yes, the Bible does often demonstrate that the wealthy often are blinded by the wealth and fall into sin. However, money or wealth, in and of itself, is not evil. It is only when we allow our wealth take first place in our hearts over God. When we make anything, wealth included (or even the lack of wealth), more important than our relationship with God, then we have fallen into sin.

God does not condemn anyone for having riches. Riches come to people from many sources, but He gives grave warnings to those who seek after them more than they seek after God and trust in them more than in God. His greatest desire is for us to set our hearts on things above and not on things on this earth. This may sound very high and unobtainable, but Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). The secret is knowing Christ as Savior and allowing the Holy Spirit to conform our minds and heart to His (Romans 12:1-2).

Thus, what God expects from us when He allows us to become wealthy through His gift of our unique mind and attributes or that of our forebearers is that we must use our wealth in ways that will glorify God. Does that mean we can’t live a comfortable life? No, God is not against us having nice things either. However, again, when they become our gods instead of Him, He does condemn that. However, if we keep our wealth in the right perspective, by viewing it of God allowing us to be generous to others, generous to our church, to use our wealth to help others who are being prevented from experiencing the full glory and love of God, to use our wealth in ways that will help others be lifted up (and that can be through creating companies that employ people and running those companies in ways that employees know they are loved, cared for, and feel safe). Wealth when kept in the proper perspective can be God-glorifying. Let us remember that all of our skills, intellect, and attributes are God-given. When we use those gifts to be ingenious and come up with a product or service that is needed or wanted, God is not offended if we become wealthy as a result. God will bless our wealth as long as it does not become our god. As long as we praise God for the wealth HE HAS GIVEN US and treat it in the same way as our salvation, an unmerited gift from Him, then we will have our wealth in proper perspective. We will then view it as a way that God has granted us to be able to expand His kingdom.

Amen and Amen.

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