Living Within God’s Will.
1 Kings 5-6, 2 Corinthians 1
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. – 2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV
Solomon was going to have the unique opportunity to fulfill the lifelong dream of his father, David, and build a temple for God. At one point in his reign, when David had established his kingdom and was living in a palace made of stone, he determined to build a suitable house for God, so that the Ark of the Covenant would no longer have to be housed in a tent. But God denied David the privilege of building the temple. Instead, God reminded David that it was He who had made David great. He had called him, established him and would continue to make his kingdom significant. God would raise up a son who would fulfill David’s dream of a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and become the dwelling place for the presence of God. Now Solomon was going to fulfill that promise. This was all part of God’s divine will. And chapters 5 and 6 of 1st Kings go into great detail describing just how Solomon went about fulfilling the will of God regarding the construction of the temple. But God also makes it clear that His main concern regarding Solomon and the people of Israel was their obedience. God had told David, “Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” (2 Samuel 7:5-7 ESV). God didn’t need or demand that David build Him a house. But He would allow a house to be built. On one condition. “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12-13 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
God’s ultimate will for Solomon and the people of Israel was their obedience. The building of a great temple was not going to replace that obligation. While a great deal of detail is given about the intricate design and expensive trappings of gold and exotic woods that went into the construction of the temple, God’s real concern was the people live in obedience to His laws. It was their obedience that would set them apart as His people. God knew that the temple would become a symbol of God’s presence and would even tempt the people to believe that God was always with them, whether they lived in obedience to His laws or not. This impressive structure would almost become a status symbol, providing them with a false sense of God’s presence and blessing. But God made it clear that it was their obedience to His laws that would determine and guarantee His presence among them. In his speech before the Sanhedrin recorded in Acts 7, Stephen reminded them, “…it was Solomon who built a house for hi. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” (Acts 7:47-50 ESV). God did not require that Solomon build the temple. But he did require that Solomon live in obedience to His commands.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Stephen went on to tell the Jews of his day, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51 ESV). The people of Israel would continue to live in rebellion against God, in spite of having a magnificent building in which they worshiped the presence of God among them. They never seemed to understand that it was their hearts that God wanted. Stephen would die as a result of his scathing words. He would be stoned to death for speaking truth to the people of Israel. Their response to his words revealed the true condition of their hearts. “They were enraged and they ground their teeth at him” ( Acts 7:54 ESV). The amazing thing is that Stephen was doing the will of God and it resulted in his death. He lived obediently to God’s will and died as a result. In his second letter to the believers living in Corinth, Paul speaks a great deal about comfort and affliction. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV). Paul knew from first-hand experience what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to endure affliction. But he also knew what it meant to receive comfort from God in the midst of that affliction. Paul’s afflictions made him increasingly more dependent upon God. “On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:10 ESV). For Paul, living in obedience to God was the most important thing in his life. The way he lived his life may not have always made sense to those around him. In fact, the Corinthians were accusing him of indecisiveness because he kept saying he was going to come visit them, but then he wouldn’t show up. But Paul assured them that he did not make his plans according to the flesh. In other words, he was not the one who was in charge of his life. He depended upon God and viewed any perceived setback or delay as the will of God for his life. His main concern was “that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Paul didn’t want his life to be marked or characterized by hypocrisy or insincerity. He wanted to live honestly and openly in obedience to God’s will for his life. He wanted to live in godly sincerity or purity, motivated by the grace of God, not the wisdom of men. He knew that he was completely dependent upon God’s grace, as made available through Jesus’ death on the cross and the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit. He was incapable of living the godly life without God’s supernatural help. Yes, he longed to visit the Corinthian believers again. But he longed more to live in obedience and subjection to the will of God for his life. And that is how God wants me to live. God is less concerned about all my accomplishments for Him, than He is with my obedience to Him. He wants me to live without hypocrisy and in godly sincerity, completely dependent upon Him. Building “temples” for God may impress others, but God is much more concerned with our hearts. He knows that our accomplishments mean nothing if our hearts are far from Him. Obedience and submission to His will are still the object of our existence and the ultimate expression of our love for Him.
Father, You didn’t need Solomon or David to build You a house. You don’t need me to accomplish great things for You. All You really want is my heart. You desire my obedience and submission to Your will for my life. Help me to live without hypocrisy and in godly sincerity, completely dependent upon You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men