Often when I see wicked rulers all around me, I wonder why God just does not deal with the lot of them – now! But perhaps he has a lamp amongst us as well. This also is further speculation, but something to consider. Philip Graham Ryken offers these thoughts: The flame in David’s lamp would never be extinguished. . . . Whatever punishment Solomon endured as the result of his sin was not God’s final judgment, therefore, but only God’s fatherly discipline. It was corrective judgment to preserve his people, not destroy them. This is an important principle to understand about the way God works in the world.
Why do you do what you do? If you are a Christian you should be doing ‘all things for the glory of God’ as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 10:31. That should be our bottom line. And we often read in Scripture of God doing something for his “name’s sake” – for the sake of his reputation and his glory. Here are a few of these passages;
1 Samuel 12:22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 25:11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Ezekiel 20:44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Revelation 2:3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
I have written previously about these matters, and how we should do things for the honour and glory of God: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/04/29/that-the-world-may-know/
But what is quite interesting – and quite amazing – is that sometimes we read of God doing something for the sake of someone else! Since I am reading through the books of Kings right now, I find this often in regards to King David. Here are the main passages, with the phrases in bold, as well as something I will speak to in a moment about Yahweh ‘leaving a lamp’:
1 Kings 11:9-13 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”
1 Kings 11:30-36 Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did. Nevertheless, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you, ten tribes. Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.
1 Kings 15:1-5 Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.