Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Mammon and His Slave, engraving by Sascha Schneider, c.1896
And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set; Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold; And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold; And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.
— 2 Chronicles 4:19-22
Gold, gold and more gold. From God's intimate conversations with Abraham, Jacob and Moses about honour, loyalty, freedom and honest living, essentially modelling a better world, the Israelites have evolved into this: temple builders focused more on wealth and glamour than actually following God's laws. Solomon personifies the fall from God to mammon. Repeatedly referred to as the wealthiest king, the king with most wives, the biggest palace (bigger and better even than the temple he builds for God) Solomon consistently fails to understand what is expected of him as king of Israel, to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.1
The development from simple listening to what essentially amounts to idolatry (the building as an idol) was repeated of course many centuries later. Jesus decried the religious pomp and circumstance, and modelled a simpler way. His message was likewise undermined by the church that was started in his name, putting money and glory before God, and within a couple of hundred years it was absorbed completely by the state of Rome.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.2
Gold over God. This was true in Solomon's time, it was true in Jesus's time, and it is true today. While we lust for wealth and glory we neglect God—we neglect the greater good, and the world suffers.
1 Micah 6:8
2 Matthew 6:24