1 Kings takes a sudden shift, and we move from praising Solomon and his achievements with today’s reading, which recounts some of Solomon’s errors. Mark is no rosy picture either. The crowd shouts for Jesus to be crucified, and he is handed over to the soldiers, who mock him, spit on him, hit him with a reed, strip him, and shout, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Both texts deal with the rejection of a king. It is graphic at times. It is sad. It is moderately depressing.
Life is full of rejection sometimes – unfulfilled dreams, perhaps unrequited love, perhaps disappointment with political leaders (OK, that is an understatement! But I am not about to compare our people with King Solomon or the Prince of Peace).
And yet amidst the hurts and the heartbreaks of life, it is these dark passages from scripture which illuminate why the biblical text has endured the test of time. If this was one big happy story, my guess is that it would not be the best-selling book of all time.
The Bible is complex and dark. It has twists and turns. It has death and intrigue, rejection and triumph.
As the ironies play out in both testaments, we see the rise and fall of a king. And yet, as the story plays out, we come to realize that God is in charge, and the king must rise again. For the Hebrew people, Solomon marks the end of the undivided kingdom. The good news is that the story goes on. Despite Israel and Judah’s failures, God maintains the blessing and covenant with the people. But some darker days are on the horizon. Exile.
Nevertheless, the story continues. That alone is good news.
And so it is with the crucifixion. We read on, because we know there is a story beyond the grave. It is no longer about the Northern and Southern Kingdom, but about the army of God marching off to continue a battle which has already been won.
It is the good news at the end of the story that keeps us reading.