1 Kings 16:21-28
In my early teens I really enjoyed this TV show titled Fame. It was a drama chronicling the everyday adventures of teenagers who'd managed to enroll in a special school for the arts. All these teens were studying the arts-especially music and drama-in order to be famous one day. In fact, that was the explicitly stated goal in the show’s theme song: “I’m going to live forever, I’m going to learn how to fly.” They were all hoping to see their name up in lights, and there was almost no sacrifice which they wouldn't make to achieve it.
It’s been over three decades since I watched that show, and the common hunger for fame since then has grown to pathetic proportions in our society. Why are people willing to humiliate themselves on daytime talk shows? Why are they willing to stand in line for hours and go through all that hardship in order to get on a reality show? Why do people scratch and claw in order to be the next American Idol? So that they can be famous. Not respected for any specific achievement, just famous for anything, even if it’s for something bad. As the saying goes in advertising, "There's no such thing as bad publicity."
So why do I bring up the subject of fame with today’s reading? You wouldn’t know this just from reading about him in scripture, but King Omri is one of the most famous Israelite kings in all of history. There's much more archeological evidence regarding Omri among “secular” (non-biblical) sources than for any other king in Judah’s or Israel’s history. Over 150 years after his reign, Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (the most powerful kingdom in the world at that time) still referred to Israel as “the house of Omri.” This was after Omri’s family had stopped ruling and the throne had passed to other families (through violent means). In stark contrast, David, whom I consider to the greatest king ancient Israel or Judah ever had, is hardly ever mentioned in any non-biblical sources. In fact, many historians, who don’t take the Bible at its word, completely disbelieved that David ever existed until very recently, until they found some mention of him in ancient records.
So what’s my point here? Omri was more famous than David, at least among foreign nations, but so what? Here’s my question to bring perspective: Of these two, whom do you think God considered more important? The answer is so obvious that it’s laughable. Omri achieved fame among the nations, but David had much more of an eternal impact. The most apparent reason for this is because our Savior came into the world through the son of Jesse. Everything in God’s plan hinged on this. Omri oversaw some incredibly awesome publics-works projects, though. And if you visit the right archeological sites you just might get to see the ruins someday.
Maybe you don’t have much of a personal desire to be famous, but you might be star-struck by some people who are in the headlines at least right now. Can you see past all the hype? Fame on earth and fame up in heaven are two very different things. One is very temporary, and the other is eternal. Which is more important to you?
It matters not if the world has heard
or approves or understands;
The only applause we’re meant to seek
Is that of nail-scarred hands
--B. J. Hoff
Lord Jesus, that's the only applause I want. When I start to crave the approval of men, please do whatever it takes to draw me back to you.