Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Solomon’

What Happened to Solomon?

Did you know that God gave a list of laws for kings?  Even more amazing is that one of the most famous kings of Israel broke every one of them!  (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

DO NOT ACQUIRE MANY
War horses, especially from Egypt.  These were the armaments of that day, important for national security.
RATHER, strength and security are to be found in God alone.

Wives, source of pleasure and delight.
RATHER, the heart’s delight is to be found in God alone who gives His good gifts.

Wealth.
RATHER, God Himself is to be our treasure.  We look to Him for provision and honor.

DO
–Make a personal copy of the Scripture and read it every day!  In here we find all those things
Security:  You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. (Psalm 119:114)
Pleasure:  How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.  (Psalm 119:103)
Treasure:  Your teachings are worth more to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. (Psalm 119:72)

So what happened to Solomon when he amassed warhorses from Egypt, collected 1000 wives & concubines from many foreign nations, and accumulated stupendous wealth?  You can read his sobering story in 1 Kings 10-11.

And after all these thousands of year, what person or nation hasn’t sought security, pleasure, and wealth?  But why be taken in by the fakes which go sour, don’t last, and just disappoint?  The real thing is found in only one place:  God.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land,
Yes, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

Chorus:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause,
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom,
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb.
He’s all my hungering spirit needs
I’d rather have Jesus and let him lead.
(by George Beverly Shea)

Listen to the song here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

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The Power of a Choice

As a kid, we didn’t have TV at home, so going to my grandparents’ place was an opportunity to watch cartoons like Popeye and game shows such as Let’s Make a Deal.  The difficult thing about the latter was that people had to choose between two unknowns—such as money in an envelope and an object behind a door—or between one known and another unknown that might be much better or much worse than what they already had.

Thousands of years ago, King Solomon was given a choice. In fact, lots of people in the Bible were given a choice which determined the whole outcome of their lives and the lives of others.  But, unlike the game show, the options and their consequences were clearly stated from the start.  Solomon went into this with his eyes wide open, the whole deal laid out on the table.

Solomon got to make two major choices in his life.  First, at the outset of his reign, God appeared to him and offered him anything he chose.  Because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth or fame, God gave him all of these!  He treated him as a favored son, lavishing on him fabulous riches and renowned wisdom.  He had everything he could wish for! 

After some years, God presented him with another choice (1 Kings 9:4-9): 

1)  Live a life of obedience to God.  The result would be a continuing dynasty that would reign forever over Israel.

2)  Reject God and worship other gods.  The consequence would be that Israel would be uprooted from their beloved land and made an object of ridicule, and the magnificent Temple he had just built would be a shambles.

Now, is that a hard choice? Who would choose the latter?

Yet, that is just what Solomon did as the years went by.  He chose to marry wives from nations around him who brought their “detestable” gods along—gods that were worshipped by burning children alive and by lewd prostitution.  Solomon not only tolerated this kind of worship by his wives, but he also turned his heart from the true God and participated in the disgusting worship of his wives’ gods.  As a consequence, his glorious kingdom was divided as it passed to his son, and idol-worship became a constant problem as long as those two kingdoms lasted.  Finally, God had enough of it and they were expelled from their land as He had said.

It’s enough to make one cry.  Why, oh why would anyone choose to rebel against this loving and generous God and bring trouble upon themselves?  Well, the story goes on in the headlines today, in our neighborhoods, and even in our hearts. 

Each day brings its choices.  Will my choices today be those that please or displease Him?  Remember:  God does not “tolerate” what He has forbidden.  The consequences may be delayed out of His mercy, but they will surely come.

Pardon, your character is showing

What happens in me when things go well? When a crisis comes?  When I’m on my own?  What do my responses say about my true character?

The “report cards” of the kings of Israel and Judah are very revealing.  Here are some of the more dramatic ones.

When things went well…

…Solomon turned to worship his many wives’ foreign gods.  (1 Kings 11)

…Amaziah, after trusting God for an amazing victory over an enemy, brought back that enemy’s worthless gods, adopted them as his own and worshipped them. (2 Chronicles 25:5-16)

…Josiah enjoyed a peaceful reign, radically committed to the Lord all the days of his life.  Ahhh!  Smile  (2 Kings 22:1-23:25)

When a crisis came…

…Asa, previously a very godly king, appealed to powerful neighbors instead of God, and then became a tyrant to his own people.  When God punished him with illness, he turned to doctors instead of back to the Lord and died a painful death. (2 Chronicles 16)

…Jehoshaphat went straight to God for help.  God took over from there and turned the enemies on one another.  All Jehoshaphat’s people had to go was march into battle with songs instead of swords, then haul away the plunder.    (2 Chronicles 20)  Hezekiah’s story is very similar.  (2 Kings 19:1, 14-36)

When a godly mentor was taken away…

–Joash enthusiastically served God as long as the priest (his guardian and mentor) was around.  BUT when that man died, Joash turned right around and abandoned God, turning that same enthusiasm to the worship of heathen gods. (2 Chronicles 24) How could he?!?  Sad smile

–Uzziah “followed God during the lifetime of Zechariah, who taught him how to honor God….BUT once he became powerful, his pride destroyed him. He disobeyed the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 26:5, 16 NET) 

What about me? What is my true character that will show through when my circumstances change—or if they don’t?  Who am I, really?

How Wise Was Solomon?

The fabled wisdom of Solomon:

—Choosing wisdom as his “one wish” from God (Wow, what would I have chosen?  I think the request in itself was pretty wise!) (1 Kings 3)

–Threatening to cut a baby in half to determine who was the real mother         (1 Kings 3)

–Thrilling audiences from far and wide with brilliant lectures on botany and zoology (1 Kings 4:33-34)

But how wise was he when he flaunted God’s list of guidelines for kings in Deuteronomy 16:16-20:

–Do not accumulate a lot of horses, especially not from Egypt.

–Do not take many wives.

–Do not accumulate vast amounts of wealth.

–And DO copy out God’s whole law, READ IT daily his whole life, and OBEY it!

Solomon had everything going for him:  God’s special favor, wisdom, wealth, fame, a huge and peaceful kingdom.  And God’s promise of an ongoing prosperous dynasty IF he would remain faithful. 

So what did he do?  He threw it all away, violated every one of these regulations.  His heart turned away from the God who had lavished favor on him to the gods of his myriad wives. Sad smile  Read the sad story in 1 Kings 10:23 to 11:13. (I have lots of “sad faces” in the margin of my Bible beside the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah.)

So what about me?  Will I cling to God when things go well, or do I need problems to keep me holding tight to His hand?  By God’s grace, I choose the former.

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