1 Kings 3-4, 1 Corinthians 16

Wasted Wisdom.

1 Kings 3-4, 1 Corinthians 16

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV

Solomon was given the opportunity of a lifetime. God spoke to him in a dream and basically told him that He would grant Solomon one wish. It was as if God was saying, “Name it and you can have it!” But instead of asking for more money, fame, power or military success, Solomon asked for “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people” (1 Kings 3:9 ESV). Given the chance to have God grant his one wish, Solomon asked for godly wisdom. And as a result of his request, God also granted Solomon what he had not asked for: “both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days” (1 Kings 3:13 ESV). While this had been a dream, it had real-life implications. God gave Solomon great wisdom and blessed him with great wealth, incredible success, and a reign marked by peace rather than war. But God’s provision of wisdom came with a condition. Solomon was required to live obediently according to God’s statutes and commandments. This was going to prove to be a real challenge for the king, in spite of his wisdom. God made Solomon wise, but Solomon was going to have to choose to be obedient.

What does this passage reveal about God?

Chapter three of 1 Kings opens up with the seemingly innocent statement: “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (1 Kings 3:1 ESV). But this one sentence speaks volumes regarding Solomon and his struggle to remain faithful to God’s commands. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God had made it clear that the king of Israel was not to “return to Egypt” and make alliances of any kind with that nation, because God had told the people of Israel, “You shall never return that way again.” Not only that, God had commanded that the king of Israel “shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17 ESV). In Deuteronomy 7:3, God had warned the people of Israel against intermarriage with foreign nations because He knew that these marriage alliances would end up in idolatry and unfaithfulness.

In Deuteronomy 12, God had commanded the people of Israel to destroy all the high places in the land of Canaan, where the pagan nations had worshiped their false gods. God had said, “You shall tear down their altars and dash to pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way” (Deuteronomy 12:3-4 ESV). God went on to tell them that they were to seek a solitary place and establish it as their only center of worship. And yet we read, “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places” (1 Kings 3:3 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

Solomon loved God. He also knew that if he was to rule the people of God successfully, he was going to need the wisdom of God. And while God would grant his wish, and provide Solomon a wise and discerning mind, this did not completely eliminate his tendency to make unwise choices. Wisdom still requires obedience. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different matters. Solomon’s wisdom was indisputable. He was world-renowned for his wisdom and displayed it on a regular basis for all to see. The people “stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” (1 Kings 3:28 ESV). But Solomon was going to struggle with obedience. His God-given wisdom was not going to prevent him from making unwise choices and self-destructive decisions. God was clearly blessing Solomon, providing him with incredible wisdom and discernment, as well as peace and prosperity. But Solomon amassed for himself thousands of chariots and horses, in direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:16: “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself.” In the midst of great peace made possible by God, Solomon was building up a might army. The psalmist would later write, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7 ESV). It seems that Solomon had a trust problem. It would also appear that he had a pride problem. And it is painfully clear that he struggled with an obedience problem.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

In the closing paragraphs of his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). These were people who had placed their faith in Christ, who had received the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God, and who were assured eternal life. But Paul still reminds them to be on the lookout against sin and to remain steadfast in their faith. He knew that they were going to continue to face difficult days ahead, so he told them to stand firm and act like men. He encouraged them to remain strong. And then he added, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). They had been saved. They had the Spirit of God within them. They were assured of future life with God. But in the meantime, they were going to need to live obediently, faithfully, and firmly grounded on the Word of God. They had the wisdom of God residing within them in the form of the Spirit of God, but they were still going to have to obey what He told them to do. They were going to have to live in faithful dependence upon God’s Word. We have available to us the wisdom of God in the form of the Spirit of God and the written Word of God. But all the wisdom in the world, if not obeyed, will never do us any good. A Bible that is read, but not applied, will never change us. A Spirit residing within us, but regularly ignored by us, will never transform us. Solomon had received a great gift from God, but it was up to him to avail himself of it. I have been given a great gift from God, but I must choose to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man and be strong.

Father, Your incredible wisdom is available to me every day. I have access to wisdom beyond that of even Solomon. And yet, far too often, I ignore it or simply disobey it. I choose to live based on my own ignorance, driven by selfishness, and motivated by my own sin nature. Help me see the reality of my own condition and turn away from living life on my own terms. I want to apply Your wisdom to every area of my life and live in obedience to Your Word and in submission to Your Spirit. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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