Month: May 2018

Tragedy (1 Kings 9-11)

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The man who loved God (1 Kings 3:3), the man God chose to use to finally build Him a dwelling place, the one who had the privilege of fulfilling promises and had promises made to him by God who revealed Himself to him personally twice, the one God blessed by answering his prayers and going beyond just answering into exceeding blessing and peace and prosperity…

That one, did the very thing his dad had warned him not to do, the very thing God had spoken to him twice about directly in a very personal way.  After the overflowing blessing of chapters 9-10, 1 Kings 11 is a tragedy of monumental proportions!

We can be tempted sometimes to think something along lines of; “if only I had…….. then I’d be content”.  Solomon is probably the clearest example in all of Scripture exposes that thinking as false.  

Solomon had God’s favour as a chosen man with destiny, God’s promises, God’s blessing financially, God’s blessing in his role as king with peace in the nation, God’s blessing with wisdom.  More than this he wasn’t single wanting to be married but was married…

And yet he wasn’t satisfied!  That’s because things don’t satisfy us, only God can truly satisfy us.  

Solomon’s desire for more is most clearly expressed in his insatiable lust for women.  Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines!  His lust for women blinded his eyes and shut his ears to the words of his father and more expressly the words of God and the commands of God which urged him to follow God’s ways and God’s commandments.  

God had specifically instructed him not to marry foreign women for a specific reason – God knew that they would cause him to compromise and would lead him astray to the worship false gods.  And that is exactly what we discover happening in 1 Kings 11. 

So God eventually swore He would tear the kingdom from Solomon, divide the kingdom into two parts.  Was God not gracious in swearing to do this?  Sometimes we read the Old Testament and make a wrong conclusion that somehow the God depicted in the Old Testament is different to the New Testament- but that is not true.  After all, God didn’t make this pronouncement after the first foreign wife or the second or the third or the 300th or 600th….!

God is is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and yet God is also holy and pure and righteous and He can not leave sin unpunished…

And so the glorious reign of Solomon has a dark lining – it’s a sad end and at the end of his life Solomon himself declares;

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV84)

So sad, what a tumultuous fall from grace and favour!  So what can we learn?  How does this apply to our lives?

If the one guy in Scripture who literally ‘had it all’ wasn’t satisfied by earthly things, by relationships by sex, money and power – do you honestly think you’ll be?

Seek God, find your joy in God, He alone can truly satisfy as God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (Piper).  So don’t be tempted and distracted by temporal things or even the good blessings given to you by God, love God more than anything find your joy in Him.

Faithfulness (1 Kings 5-8)

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In a long section with lots of detail that can seem insignificant to our eyes potentially.  I was struck by a number of little gems along the way with a theme.

In 1 Kings 5:12 it simply says; “And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him.”  I love that!  Solomon wisely asked God for wisdom, and God promised to give him what he asked for and more (1 Kings 3:11-13).  Here is this passage the writer simply records the full circle, that God was faithful to what God had promised.

In 1 Kings 6:1 we read that; “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt…he began to build the house of the Lord.”  Think about how long that is!  That is older than the country I live in, it is nearly all the way back to the days of the Reformation and Martin Luther…  When God brought His people out of Egypt he commanded them through Moses to not worship Him anywhere like the foreign people who worshipped their gods on any high place but that they should ‘seek the place that the Lord your God will choose’ (Deuteronomy 12:5, 12:13-14) but to build a sanctuary “that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8).  That elaborate tent, the sanctuary which moved about in the wilderness with the people of God, was always intended to become a temple a permanent place which represented God’s presence with His people, the place of worship.  And yet it took 480yrs from promise to ultimate fulfilment.  What a journey, what an old tent!  How many people might have prematurely concluded that God was not going to have them build a temple?  God does what God says – He is faithful.

Then in 1 Kings 6:12-13 God calls for Solomon to be faithful like He is faithful.  God makes promises to Solomon but they are promises that contain a little word that has a BIG impact – “IF”.  God says IF you are faithful and obey ‘all my commandments’ THEN I will be true to the promises I made to King David and my people Israel.  God is faithful, and here He calls Solomon to be like Him, to also be faithful, promising amazing blessing to Solomon ‘if’ he is faithful.

In a little sidebar – it is concerning to say the least that after God waited 480yrs for His permanent house to be built, Solomon took 7yrs to build God’s house and in the very next verse it says that Solomon took nearly double that time to build his own house!  Hmmmmm.  The bible is not arbitrary, this is communicating something.  It is SO important that we do not relegate God and God’s house to the sidelines making our own financial agendas more important than that of His.  How are you doing on this front?  Are you being faithful with bringing your whole tithe into God’s storehouse (the church) or are you more focused on your personal financial goals/desires?  It’s worth asking and being provoked to think regarding this.

Lastly, in 1 Kings 8 there is a long section with the dedication of the temple and God is faithful again in vs10 by coming and filling this ‘house’ built for Him with His presence!  Solomon prays honouring God as the faithful One, the faithful, covenant keeping God to all those who are faithful in walking before Him with ‘all their heart’ (vs23).

God is faithful always!  He desires that we be like Him.  He wants you and I to love Him and to obey Him because we love Him.  May we be like Him.

God is faithful!

A warning (1 Kings 3-4)

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Our enemy is patient.  He is happy sometimes to bide his time, he lays down land-mines in our lives (if we let him) but then waits to detonate them at some point in the future when the impact will be greater than it is now.

Solomon becomes king as a young man, he loves God Scripture says, and is even a humble young king at this point (1 Kings 3:7).  But sadly he is already making some wrong choices, disregarding the charge given to him by his father David (1 Kings 2:3) to walk in God’s ways and commandments.

Solomon unwisely, disregards God’s commandment to not marry foreign women.  Through Moses God had warned about not doing this because these foreign wives would cause God’s people to compromise and end up worshipping their false gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).  Solomon however marries Pharaoh’s daughter in a political move designed to give him political allies.  

Solomon loves God (1 Kings 3:3) but again he is unwise not paying attention to God’s commandment in Deuteronomy 12:1-8 to not worship or make sacrifices anywhere they pleased but rather to only worship God in the place God had chosen (where the tabernacle was at any given time).  Solomon does exactly what Deuteronomy 12:8 specifically instructs not to be done and makes sacrifices at the ‘high places’ of worship used for worship of other gods (1 Kings 3:3).

The remainder of chapters 3-4 record Solomon’s good request from God and the blessing that flows from this request for wisdom.  God blessed Solomon in incredible ways with wisdom (we see this in his adjudication of the difficult scenario of the two women in 1 Kings 3:16-28), prolific writing and song writing and blessed the whole nation with peace and prosperity.

And yet the seeds of compromise had been sown!  Solomon didn’t know it but his compromise was germinating beneath the surface and would later result in his effective downfall.  Satan is patient, happy to sow sin-seeds and to leave them there for a later time for greater impact.

How many church leaders or prominent people have years later when they have profile been exposed for some thing that was private that they never dealt with which then later becomes public only to destroy them?

So what relevance does this have for your life and mine?

What might there be in your life that seems small to you at the moment but is in fact an area of compromise?

Is there anything in your life that you are tolerating or turning a blind eye to even though you know God’s will for you is contrary?

I urge you to never see sin-seeds as small things, but to see what they become and to deal with them as soon as the Holy Spirit points them out to you.  Remember that Satan is patient, happy to wait for the moment when detonating that land-mine, causing that seed to germinate will have greater impact on you and on others.