Sunday, October 23, 2011

1 Kings 3 & 4 - The Way of Wisdom

LINK: 1 Kings 3 & 4

BACKGROUND

Solomon's name is derived from shalom, the Hebrew word for "peace."  This is fitting since during his reign, Israel enjoyed peace on all sides. He made treaties with other rulers by marrying their daughters. This is why he had so many wives and concubines (11:3). Deuteronomy 17:14-20 specifically warns against the future king multiplying wives for himself! This will lead to Solomon's downfall in the end, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. By the way, Isn't it amazing that Solomon's first bride was from Egypt when just 475 years earlier, they were crushing Israel?

The key verse is 1 Kings 3:3:


 Now Solomon loved the LORD, 
walking in the statutes of his father David, 
except [emphasis mine] he sacrificed and burned 
incense on the high places.

This was in direct disobedience to GodDeuteronomy 12:13-14 says, "Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes . . ." Leviticus 17:3-4 stipulated that offering sacrifices at places other than the tabernacle was prohibited in the Law. These restrictions were meant to keep purity of worship in Israel; but during the time of the Judges, Israel began to offer sacrifices on the high places like the Canaanites. The Canaanites thought that the high places brought them closer to heaven and the gods. The most popular high place was at Gibeon, five miles north of Jerusalem. 

Even though the "except" was there, in 1 Kings 3, Solomon was visited by God in a dream. This was common in ancient Israel (Genesis 28:10-15; 37:5-7). Solomon's request for an understanding (literally "hearing") heart to rule and judge the people of Israel and discern between good and evil was very pleasing to God who gave him wisdom and discernment and more! 

The end of 1 Kings 3 and beginning of 4 are examples of how Solomon put these gifts into practice in judging wisely between the two prostitutes who disputed over the baby, delegating responsibility over his vast empire to 11 chief officials, 12 district governors, and a manager in charge of the district officers, and providing for his vast empire. Because of his wisdom, his domain enjoyed peace and prosperity. 



He was lauded for his great wisdom, writing 3,000 proverbs and 1005 songs. We will be reading his proverbs in the coming weeks after we read one of his songs believed to have been written early in his reign. 

REFLECTION

I have come to the conclusion that wisdom is more important than anything; money, power, professional status.  Recently, I was in a room sitting next to a couple of high-powered professionals. Among everyone in the room, I might have been the only person who did not even have at least a part-time paying job. I heard a subtle "put down" from one of the professionals when I mentioned one of the things I did.  She said, "You have too much time on your hands."  I barely know this woman, and she had already made a judgment about how I use my time. (Boy, if she only knew me and how seriously I take the stewardship of my time, but I digress.) My life is not as "important" as hers in the world's eyes, but I think it is important to God. I truly believe that I am right where He wants me to be, applying the gifts that He has given me for His glory and the people's good. But what I give from God's gifting in me is not valued in those women's eyes. 

Honestly, I could be in their shoes. I have the degrees to have a high-powered professional career just like theirs. In fact, I almost went into their profession having the grades and potential to do what they do. My mom even had my sister-in-law call me to try to convince me to go into this career, but God very clearly told me in my early 20's that He had chosen a different path for my life (much to my mother's chagrin). My undergraduate degree was nutrition, but God told me, when meditating on David being taken from the sheepfolds to shepherd Israel (see Psalm 78:70-72), that he would take me from nutrition education and counseling so that I could teach and encourage people in nutrition for the soul. I have never regretted the path that God laid out for me so long ago. 

So, I am not doing nutrition counseling, counseling college students through their many challenges (graduate degree and first career), delivering babies, or working with cancer patients (both considered and possible with my undergraduate core courses), but I am helping people to feed their soul (BBC), delivering spiritual babies (Bible studies for seekers), helping those babies grow through the challenges of life (discipling), teaching spiritual moms how to help their children grow (equipping), and helping people to seek God to cure the cancer in their hearts (Theophostic Prayer Ministry).  

I do not get paid a cent monetarily, but I am so richly rewarded.  I do not have a house in one of the elite housing developments in town (like those two high-powered professionals), but I am a princess next to the throne of a King. I do not have people in awe of my presence in a group because of my professional status, but I lead seeking people toward being in awe of God. I think the rewards make all the social ridicule I get well worth it.  It is in such opposition to the world, but it is the eternal reality, and it is the way of wisdom. I have, by no means, arrived, but I am pressing on toward it. That is why I like Solomon's more important request and request it regularly. I hope you will request it too. 


Self-portrait of me working on this post. It is a lovely fall day in Oregon. 
APPLICATION 

Write out 1 Kings 3:9, put it in a prominent place, and pray for wisdom daily to carry out the "career" He has given to you.

PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You are all wisdom. Please work Your wisdom through us so that You might be glorified and people would be blessed. Amen. 
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