1 Kings 3-5 The Message (MSG)
3 1-3 Solomon arranged a marriage contract with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He married Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the City of David until he had completed building his royal palace and God’s Temple and the wall around Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the people were worshiping at local shrines because at that time no temple had yet been built to the Name of God. Solomon loved God and continued to live in the God-honoring ways of David his father, except that he also worshiped at the local shrines, offering sacrifices and burning incense.
4-5 The king went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”
6 Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.
7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.
9 “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”
10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”
15 Solomon woke up—what a dream! He returned to Jerusalem, took his place before the Chest of the Covenant of God, and worshiped by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. Then he laid out a banquet for everyone in his service.
16-21 The very next thing, two prostitutes showed up before the king. The one woman said, “My master, this woman and I live in the same house. While we were living together, I had a baby. Three days after I gave birth, this woman also had a baby. We were alone—there wasn’t anyone else in the house except for the two of us. The infant son of this woman died one night when she rolled over on him in her sleep. She got up in the middle of the night and took my son—I was sound asleep, mind you!—and put him at her breast and put her dead son at my breast. When I got up in the morning to nurse my son, here was this dead baby! But when I looked at him in the morning light, I saw immediately that he wasn’t my baby.”
22 “Not so!” said the other woman. “The living one’s mine; the dead one’s yours.”
The first woman countered, “No! Your son’s the dead one; mine’s the living one.”
They went back and forth this way in front of the king.
23 The king said, “What are we to do? This woman says, ‘The living son is mine and the dead one is yours,’ and this woman says, ‘No, the dead one’s yours and the living one’s mine.’”
24 After a moment the king said, “Bring me a sword.” They brought the sword to the king.
25 Then he said, “Cut the living baby in two—give half to one and half to the other.”
26 The real mother of the living baby was overcome with emotion for her son and said, “Oh no, master! Give her the whole baby alive; don’t kill him!”
But the other one said, “If I can’t have him, you can’t have him—cut away!”
27 The king gave his decision: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Nobody is going to kill this baby. She is the real mother.”
28 The word got around—everyone in Israel heard of the king’s judgment. They were all in awe of the king, realizing that it was God’s wisdom that enabled him to judge truly.
4 1-2 King Solomon was off to a good start ruling Israel.
These were the leaders in his government:
2-6 Azariah son of Zadok—the priest;
Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries;
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud—historian;
Benaiah son of Jehoiada—commander of the army;
Zadok and Abiathar—priests;
Azariah son of Nathan—in charge of the regional managers;
Zabud son of Nathan—priest and friend to the king;
Ahishar—manager of the palace;
Adoniram son of Abda—manager of the slave labor.
7-19 Solomon had twelve regional managers distributed throughout Israel. They were responsible for supplying provisions for the king and his administration. Each was in charge of bringing supplies for one month of the year. These are the names:
Ben-Hur in the Ephraim hills;
Ben-Deker in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh, and Elon Bethhanan;
Ben-Hesed in Arubboth—this included Socoh and all of Hepher;
Ben-Abinadab in Naphoth Dor (he was married to Solomon’s daughter Taphath);
Baana son of Ahilud in Taanach and Megiddo, all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, and from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah over to Jokmeam;
Ben-Geber in Ramoth Gilead—this included the villages of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead and the region of Argob in Bashan with its sixty large walled cities with bronze-studded gates;
Ahinadab son of Iddo in Mahanaim;
Ahimaaz in Naphtali (he was married to Solomon’s daughter Basemath);
Baana son of Hushai in Asher and Aloth;
Jehoshaphat son of Paruah in Issachar;
Shimei son of Ela in Benjamin;
Geber son of Uri in Gilead—this was the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and also of Og king of Bashan; he managed the whole district by himself.
20-21 Judah and Israel were densely populated—like sand on an ocean beach! All their needs were met; they ate and drank and were happy. Solomon was sovereign over all the kingdoms from the River Euphrates in the east to the country of the Philistines in the west, all the way to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and were vassals of Solomon all his life.
22-23 One day’s food supply for Solomon’s household was:
185 bushels of fine flour
375 bushels of meal
10 grain-fed cattle
20 range cattle
and miscellaneous deer, gazelles, roebucks, and choice fowl.
24-25 Solomon was sovereign over everything, countries and kings, west of the River Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza. Peace reigned everywhere. Throughout Solomon’s life, everyone in Israel and Judah lived safe and sound, all of them from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—content with what they had.
26-28 Solomon had forty thousand stalls for chariot horses and twelve thousand horsemen. The district managers, each according to his assigned month, delivered food supplies for King Solomon and all who sat at the king’s table; there was always plenty. They also brought to the designated place their assigned quota of barley and straw for the horses.
29-34 God gave Solomon wisdom—the deepest of understanding and the largest of hearts. There was nothing beyond him, nothing he couldn’t handle. Solomon’s wisdom outclassed the vaunted wisdom of wise men of the East, outshone the famous wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone—wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, wiser than Heman, wiser than Calcol and Darda the sons of Mahol. He became famous among all the surrounding nations. He created 3,000 proverbs; his songs added up to 1,005. He knew all about plants, from the huge cedar that grows in Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows in the cracks of a wall. He understood everything about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Sent by kings from all over the earth who had heard of his reputation, people came from far and near to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.
5 1-4 Hiram king of Tyre sent ambassadors to Solomon when he heard that he had been crowned king in David’s place. Hiram had loved David his whole life. Solomon responded, saying, “You know that David my father was not able to build a temple in honor of God because of the wars he had to fight on all sides, until God finally put them down. But now God has provided peace all around—no one against us, nothing at odds with us.
5-6 “Now here is what I want to do: Build a temple in honor of God, my God, following the promise that God gave to David my father, namely, ‘Your son whom I will provide to succeed you as king, he will build a house in my honor.’ And here is how you can help: Give orders for cedars to be cut from the Lebanon forest; my loggers will work alongside yours and I’ll pay your men whatever wage you set. We both know that there is no one like you Sidonians for cutting timber.”
7 When Hiram got Solomon’s message, he was delighted, exclaiming, “Blessed be God for giving David such a wise son to rule this flourishing people!”
8-9 Then he sent this message to Solomon: “I received your request for the cedars and cypresses. It’s as good as done—your wish is my command. My lumberjacks will haul the timbers from the Lebanon forest to the sea, assemble them into log rafts, float them to the place you set, then have them disassembled for you to haul away. All I want from you is that you feed my crew.”
10-12 In this way Hiram supplied all the cedar and cypress timber that Solomon wanted. In his turn, Solomon gave Hiram 125,000 bushels of wheat and 115,000 gallons of virgin olive oil. He did this every year. And God, for his part, gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised. The healthy peace between Hiram and Solomon was formalized by a treaty.
The Temple Work Begins
13-18 King Solomon raised a workforce of thirty thousand men from all over Israel. He sent them in shifts of ten thousand each month to the Lebanon forest; they would work a month in Lebanon and then be at home two months. Adoniram was in charge of the work crew. Solomon also had seventy thousand unskilled workers and another eighty thousand stonecutters up in the hills—plus thirty-three hundred foremen managing the project and supervising the work crews. Following the king’s orders, they quarried huge blocks of the best stone—dressed stone for the foundation of The Temple. Solomon and Hiram’s construction workers, assisted by the men of Gebal, cut and prepared the timber and stone for building The Temple.
Luke 20:1-26 The Message (MSG)
20 1-2 One day he was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”
3-4 Jesus answered, “First, let me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?”
5-7 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know.
8 Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”
The Story of Corrupt Farmhands
9-12 Jesus told another story to the people: “A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black-and-blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘I know what I’ll do: I’ll send my beloved son. They’re bound to respect my son.’
14-15 “But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. ‘This is our chance—this is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all to ourselves.’ They killed him and threw him over the fence.
15-16 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others.”
Those who were listening said, “Oh, no! He’d never do that!”
17-18 But Jesus didn’t back down. “Why, then, do you think this was written:
That stone the masons threw out—
“Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup.”
19 The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.
20-22 Watching for a chance to get him, they sent spies who posed as honest inquirers, hoping to trick him into saying something that would get him in trouble with the law. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re honest and straightforward when you teach, that you don’t pander to anyone but teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23-24 He knew they were laying for him and said, “Show me a coin. Now, this engraving, who does it look like and what does it say?”
25 “Caesar,” they said.
Jesus said, “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is his.”
26 Try as they might, they couldn’t trap him into saying anything incriminating. His answer caught them off guard and left them speechless.