Spiritual Rants: June 8 “A Wise Guy, Eh?” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 1 Kings 3:3-4:34 Acts 6:1-15 Psalm 126:1-6 Proverbs 16:26-27

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Old Testament: 1 Kings 3:3-4:34

Solomon was charged an enormous task, wisdom was all that he would’ve asked.

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1 Kings 3:3-15   A Wise Guy, Eh?

Wouldn’t you love for this to happen?  Solomon had a dream and Yahweh asked him to name whatever he wanted!  What would you ask for?  Solomon asked for wisdom.

J.Vernon McGee says that the wisdom Solomon asked for was political wisdom, not necessarily spiritual wisdom.  Verse 3 does say that Solomon “loved the Lord.”  But then it goes on to say that “he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.”  Worshipping on the high places instead of in one central location, as later in Jerusalem, was prohibited in Deuteronomy (cf. 12:2).  Many kings were responsible for following this pagan custom (1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:4, 35) and it resulted in their downfall.  Worship in high places may not have been the sin it would be, but does seem to be a portent of things to come.

Solomon started well but did not end well.  His downfall seems to be linked to his practice of marrying many foreign wives as he could for political purposes.  He started by marrying the Pharoah’s daughter.  Remember the incident before the Israelites were about to enter the land?  The people had come too close to the Midianites resulting in a mass slaughter in Num. 25:9 (cf. see Peor People Get The Point).  Deuteronomy 7: 1-5 clearly prohibits intermarriage with pagans in surrounding countries.  In the book of Ezra (10) all who had heathen wives agreed to divorce them!  We do not have to do this today though the taking of an unsaved husband or wife is prohibited (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14).  Solomon obviously had no compunction regarding the spiritual state of his wives since he had 700 wives and 300 concubines!  Most were the result of liaisons with foreign powers for political purposes.  Here are the sad words, “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:3-4).

The sad truth is that an unspiritual companion can have a strong negative impact on a person and move them away from the Lord.  As a pastor, I have seen it time and time again.  Take your relationships seriously!

That Solomon knew better. He wrote The Song of Solomon which extols the primacy of love between one husband and one wife.

The reason Solomon wanted wisdom was that he realized that he did not have the experience that his father had had in ruling the nation.  He may have been only twenty when he became king though he had the benefit of his father’s older advisors. Since Solomon was wise enough to ask for wisdom, Yahweh also granted him riches, honor, and a long life (v. 13).

1 Kings 3:16-28   A Split Decision

Solomon’s wisdom was exemplified by his decision in the case of two prostitutes brought to him to decide.  They had both had babies about the same time and lived in the same house.  One of the woman’s sons died when she rolled over on top of it!  Then while the other woman was sleeping she stole and swapped out the babies and kept the living one for herself.  They each claimed the living baby.

Solomon said he had the perfect solution:  he would just take a sword and slice the living baby in two and they could each have half.  One of the women cried in panic, “No!  That’s OK.  She can have the baby!”  The second woman said, “OK.  That seems like a good solution.  Cut him up.”   Solomon then knew whose the baby was and gave him to the first woman.  The entire country was amazed at his wisdom!

1 Kings 4:1-19    The Official Officials

Solomon ruled over the entire nation of Israel, north and south.  If you want to know the names of his officials they are listed here.

1 Kings 4:20-19    Professor Solomon

The reign of Solomon was a time of great peace.  In many ways it is like the coming one thousand year kingdom of Christ.  People were just having a good ole time “rejoicing” and “eating and drinking” (v. 20).

Yahweh had warned that if Israel chose a king that he would raise taxes and collect too many horses (cf. Deut. 17:6, also 1 Sam. 8:10-18).  Solomon did raise taxes (v. 21, “they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life”).  One of the first things the people wanted under Solomon’s successor was lower taxes!  (1 Kings 12:3-4).

Solomon knew of 3,000 proverbs.  He collected them, even from foreign cultures.  Only a few hundred are inscripturated in the book of  Proverbs.  He wrote over a thousand songs.  We only have one: The Song of Solomon.

McGee says of Solomon’s intellectual pursuits, “Solomon was an dendrologist — ‘he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall.’ The hyssop is a humble little plant that grows on rocks. Solomon was also a zoologist — ‘he spake also of beasts’ — and an ornithologist since he spoke of birds. He was an entomologist: he spoke of creeping things, or insects. He was an ichthyologist: he spoke of fishes. He spoke of these things because he was an authority in these particular realms. this, apparently, is the beginning of the sciences.”

Solomon had not endured all the hardship that his father had and therefore did not have the character that David had.  But the book of Ecclesiastes shows that he was a deep thinker and an extraordinary person.

New Testament: Acts 6:1-15

Not only the apostles but also the deacons were lights and beacons.

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Acts 6:1-15   The Magnificent Seven

There were so many people joining the church at this time that it strained the apostles to do all the work.  The twelve apostles decided that there should be seven men chosen to take care of the food for everyone.  They were chosen and the apostles prayed and put their hands on them.

The church’s numbers were exploding and even some priests were coming to faith in the Lord.

Stephen, who was one of the seven, was “full of grace and power” and was also “performing great wonders and signs” (v. 8).  Some Jews resented him though and tried to take him on in debates.  He demolished them.  Then they accused him of blaspheming Moses and were really creating havoc with the people and religious leaders.   He was brought to the council against his will.  False witnesses lied about his view of Judaism, saying Jesus would tear down the Temple and change the Mosaic law.  But when they looked over at Stephen, his face lit up and looked like the “face of an angel” (v. 15).

Psalm 126:1-5    A Lament By Anonymous

You can sow and maybe mourn but later reap with joy being born.

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Psalm 126:1-5    Beautiful Dreamers

Imagine hearing about Jerusalem your whole life but you’re stuck in Babylon, hoping for the day that you can return to your homeland.  Now you look up as you’re pulling up to the capital and you can see Mount Zion.  It’s like a dream (v. 1).

You can now look around at your fellow travelers and they’re all laughing and shouting for joy (v. 2).  The surrounding nations have heard of their journey and giving glory to the Lord (vv. 2b,c, 3).

Are you glad when the Lord has done great things for you (v. 3)?  There is a hymn with the lyric, “count your many blessings, name them one by one.”  Ephesians 5:20 tells us to “give thanks in all things” (cf. 1 Thess. 5:18; Phil. 4:6).  When you are down, sometimes it’s good to just count every blessing God has given you rather than all the things that are wrong with your life.  Do you have a good friend?  Do you have a roof over your head?  Food?  Special treats?  Thank God for them.

All the pilgrims reciting the songs of ascent (Pss. 120-134) prayed for the restoration of Israel including the southern area (v. 4, aka Negev NIV ESV).  The southern regions were dry and arid.  They will be flowing with living water when the Jews return to the region, ultimately, in the Millennium.

Isn’t it great to know that even though you might be down today, you could be euphorious tomorrow (v. 5)?  It is always good to remind ourselves that things change.  You may be going through a tough time now but tomorrow everything could be different.  We might be planting a crop with tears in our eyes in the spring and by harvest season, we could be laughing and scratching (v. 6).  Sometimes things change as quickly as the weather in Indiana (or fill in the last word with wherever you live).

Sheaves are bundles or heaps (v. 6).  Those in Christian work may sow in tears but will bring back heaps of saved people if they are patient and persistent (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

Proverbs 16:26-27   Stirring and Stirred

If a man is so hungry in his ardor, it can cause him to work harder.

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If you are prone to laziness, when you get hungry you are often disabused of your slothfulness (v. 26).

In contrast, evil people are often very industrious (v. 27a).  They love to stir things up and use their words to burn deeply into their victims (v. 27b).  Don’t be surprised if you are doing God’s work and even Christians attack you mercilessly.  Satan can use believers if they yield to him (cf. Matt. 16:23).

Choose Life: Scripture:   Acts 6:4  NASB    “Teach Preach!”

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”    Acts 6:4

Charles Stanley used to tell us that he was always accessible if we really wanted to talk to him . . .  except not during the morning hours because he was praying and studying during that time.  Must be great to have a staff!  However, he did make a good point.  The pastor’s job is mainly to feed the flock (cf. John 21:17; Eph. 4:11 and blog Body Builders).  The reason the early church appointed deacons in the body was so that the work of the church could be delegated so that the teachers would be free to study and teach.

Are you in a church where the pastor prioritizes teaching and preaching the Word?

If you are, you will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

Why is our world in the state it’s in now?  Look at the church and how it’s run down in Europe.  Look at the state of Europe.  Now look at the state of the church in America.  Consider the culture and how it has strayed from Biblical standards in the past fifty to a hundred years.  Note a correlation?

What can you do to help the teaching ministry in your church?  Can you teach Sunday School or serve on the Sunday School board?  What are you doing to make sure that those in your own home are being taught?  Sometimes all we can do is encourage them to go to a Bible-teaching church.  Sometimes we are responsible to teaching our own young ones.  Or maybe all you can do is pray.  But if you do any of these things, you will feel better about yourself.

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  A Wise Guy, Eh?

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