How might the themes of idolatry and stewardship be connected?
Solomon has been raised within the frameworks of faith, and anointed by God through Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet. He has served as king of God’s people through a period of unprecedented prosperity and peace. And in the scene before us this morning we see Solomon in fullness of age kneeling … not in praise of the faithful Lord God but before a lifeless idol (1 Kings 11).
We prone are to idolatry, even and perhaps especially during times of prosperity and peace. I remember reading a book by the French Protestant theologian Jacques Ellul who suggested that perhaps the idol we are most prone to worship in this time and place is money. In money we trust, to money we grant power. The demands of money for more money shape our lives as individuals and nations, devaluing all things human and spiritual. And the only way to break the power of money is to do with money the one thing it cannot tolerate, that is … give it away. The most effective way of profaning money is by dedicating money to the Lord God and to care of neighbour.
And so, from exploring a scene of the Old Testament and a painting from 17th century Netherlands, we continue with the dedication of our stewardship pledges for the year of grace 2015 and a time of Holy Communion.
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Solomon’s Idolatry, around 1665, oil on canvas. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University. Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013 (56-003.15)