Kings Lesson 3 - Make a Wish . . . Any Wish
If God were to come to you today and give you one wish, what would you wish for? More money? A husband or wife? The ability to fly? Solomon could have had anything he wanted . . . anything . . . but he chose wisdom. Let's follow his example today.
Make a Wish . . . Any Wish
If you could write your pearls of wisdom for others to read, what would they be?
One author by the name, Jack Brown collected gems from hundreds of people of various ages:
-A 64 year old said, "I've learned that most of the things I worry about never happened"
-Another said, "I've learned that when someone says something unkind about me, I will live so that no one will believe it."
-One 29 year old parent said, "I've learned that parents of other children know just how you should raise yours."
-A 46 year old said, "I've learned that you can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you'd better know something."
-This one reminded me of our discussion last Sunday - a senior citizen said, "I've learned that the great challenge of life is to decide what's important and to ignore everything else."
Some of these gems were simple home-spun advice:
-I’ll add one of my own here . . . I’ve learned that if you eat Krispy Crème doughnuts warm, you can eat more of them before feeling it. That was priceless wasn’t it?!
A couple more gems of wisdom:
-Someone said, "I've learned that wisdom is the intelligence that keeps you from getting into situations that require - wisdom."
-One more - "I've learned that a person begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew."
If there is a gem that described the drama Solomon find's himself in - it's that one.
The curtain has just risen, and young Solomon is standing in the center of the stage - all eyes are on him.
There is debate about how old he was - most believe he was still a teenager!
Whatever young age - he is now the King over all Israel.
Now chapter two of I Kings gives us the first few events surrounding the accession of Solomon to his father's throne. It's a violent, bloody chapter where, as I mentioned last Sunday, Solomon is left to handle the compromises David allowed in the Kingdom; namely that justice be meted out for enemies of the throne - and so, the first decrees recorded from Solomon relate to the deaths of a general named Joab, Solomon's half brother Adonijah and that old snake, Shimei.
It wasn't a pleasant, peaceful start, but it was necessary to ensure that Solomon would reign as God's chosen successor to his father David's throne.
I want us to begin digging into the life of Solomon this morning in a series of biographical studies I've entitled, "The Renaissance King".
For without a doubt, Solomon was indeed the King over Israel's flourishing age.
For the sake of understanding the most colorful, brilliant King Israel would ever claim - we need to begin with his birth.
So I want to turn your attention first to 2 Samuel 12
The context of this passage is the death of David and Bathsheba's baby boy - the conception of this child had resulted from their adulterous union - the entire household of David was in an uproar as Nathan had boldly confronted the Kings sin.
Somewhere during this period in David's life he penned Psalm 51, his personal poem of confession.
Soon after the death of their son, Bathsheba, now David's wife, conceived again.
Notice verse 24 "Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon.
Names conveyed significant hopes and aspirations. David, the strong warrior who's life has been one series of crisis after another - then he falls into the mire of sin - he experiences the loss of fellowship with His God and the loss of integrity among his followers. Finally there is repentance, followed by the death of Bathsheba's child. But the God of grace allowed Bathsheba to have another baby - another boy - and as David cradles him in his arms, he names him - Shalom - Solomon - Peace.
It's as if David marks the birth of Solomon as a time of peace - peace within his own household, peace within his own heart, ultimately peace from restored fellowship with God.
But God has a special name picked out for him as well - we read it only one time in the scriptures - it's found in v. 25. Now the Lord loved him and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the Lord's sake.
Jedidiah simply means, "Loved by God."
Nathan's involvement with the naming of the young baby boy has led many to believe that he served as Solomon's tutor, throughout his young years.
What I find most interesting is the thought that Lemuel, perhaps yet another name for Solomon, was a nickname given to him by his mother Bathsheba. The name appears only once and its found in chapter 31 of Proverbs. The name simply means "unto God". As if Bathsheba had promised the Lord that this child would belong to God.
Most O.T. writers believe from Proverbs 31, that Solomon, called Lemuel, records for us the words that his mother taught him; words of great wisdom and insight. You ought to read the chapter sometime with the conscious thought that these words are coming from Bathsheba's lips.
In fact, throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon repeatedly urges his readers to not only listen to the teaching of their father but to the teaching of their mother:
Prov. 1:8 - Hear my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching; indeed they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.
Listen to Solomon's obvious love and deep affection for his mother as he writes in chapter 4:3. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words.
Prov. 6:20 Solomon commands, "My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.
This is incredible when you consider that the mother Solomon refers to, and the wise counsel that he was reared to follow was the teaching and counsel of not just David, but Bathsheba, a woman with a shady past, but evidently a woman who came to love and know deeply the God of Israel and who would pass on to the young prince, the things she had learned.
So Solomon was reared under the counsel and teaching of Nathan, the godly prophet and Bathsheba.
If there is a principle here for us it could be this - God's grace can be found at work no matter what your past.
Certainly, there can be lasting limitations to sin - as with David here - for Nathan told David by the word of the Lord that because of his sin, the sword would never depart from his house - however, God's grace would continue to work and a young prince would grow up at the feet of a developing, maturing woman - a woman who would ultimately become the teacher of millions of believers who, by reading the book of Proverbs, indirectly read and study some of the instruction she gave to her son Solomon.
One of the hidden stories of these chapters is the story of grace, revealed and developed in the life of Bathsheba.
Now I want to fast forward the biography of Solomon and take you to the INAUGURATION OF SOLOMON
It's found in I Kings 3 so turn there please.
This same account is given in 2 Chronicles. 1. We'll focus on Jeremiah's account in I Kings chapter 3.
We have time to focus on three things:
-Solomon's first wife -his first recorded acts of worship
-his first and only wish!
I Kings 3:1. Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her to the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.
This was a political move to ensure Israel's ancient taskmaster acted as an ally rather than enemy. While the marriage was never specifically condemned by the law - only intermarriage with the Canaanite nations was - it shows us how, early on, the door was cracked open for Solomon's later fall. . .for it would be Solomon's foreign wives who turn his heart away from God.
HIS FIRST RECORDED ACTS OF WORSHIP
verse 2. The people were still sacrificing on the high places, becuase there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days. 3. Now Solomon loved the Lord walking in the statues of his father David, except (highlight that word) he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 4. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a 1,000 burn offering on that altar.
At first glance this also sounds like direct disobedience. He's barely on the throne and he's married an Egyptian and now he's sacrificing on some strange high altar.
The word "except" in verse 3 seems to indicate that Solomon was doing everything right "except" he sacrificed at Gibeon.
I even read a couple of lengthy sermons highlighting the word "except"; Solomon was walking righteously except! In fact, I thought early on this week, my sermon would be built around the ungodly exceptions in Solomon's life.
Trouble is, the companion volumne to I Kings provides an explanation, not a condemnation. Look over to 2 Chron. chapter 1
v. 3. Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place which was at Giveon; for God's tent of meeting was there, which Mosese the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. 4. However, David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath-Jearim to the place he had prepared for it; for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5. Now the bronze altar, which Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the Lord, and Solomon and the assembly sought it out.
In other words, Solomon followed his father David in everything except, David sacrificed in Jerusalem where the ark was, and Solomon sacrificed at Gibeon where Moses' tabernacle was. . .God honored both! There went my sermon idea out the window!
It's amazing how the Bible can ruin a good sermon - by the way - that's a good warning for all of us - wether we're teaching or preaching or listening to make sure we compare what we say and hear to the Word, no matter how convincing or attractive.
6. And Solomon went up there before the Lord to the bronze altar which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it."
You know what Solomon is doing? He's beginning his reign by publicly acknowleging his love and commitment to the God of Israel.
Now notice what God does. . .go back to I Kings 3
I Kings 3:5. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you."
God said, "Make a wish Solomon . . . any wish!"
Imagine . . . In effect God is saying, "Solomon, here's you a blank check . . . write anything you want into the top line!"
What kid hasn't laid in bed and thought, "Man, if I had three wishes."
The other day on the way to school I asked my kids, "If you had three wishes what would you wish for?" I needed a sermon illustration. . .sure enough - for my first and third graders, "I wish I could fly" was #1"
If it will encourage you parents, some kids will actually try. I read recently about Leo Tolstoi, the Biblical scholar who, as a 9 year old convinced himself that he could indeed fly if he placed total faith in
God. . .so he jumped out his second story bedroom window - and became fairly disappointed in God.
This is every kid's dream.
One of my sons came home recently and said that another one of his playmates at school was born again - saved. . .that was two kids in just the last few days. So I decided to ask the little evangelist some questions - like, "Did you actually pray with them?" "Oh yes sir - right on the playground." I thought, "Wow!" I asked, "What do you pray?" He said, "I lead them in a prayer that they repeat after me, like you do at church." Sounded right. "Well, son, how do you bring up the subject." "Oh, that's easy." I said, "Really?" "Yeah, Dad, I just ask my friends, "Hey do you want to be able to fly one day and walk on water? They say, "Sure do . . . and we pray!"
His theology was sound, but his motivational methods were questionable!
Well, for grownups, having our dreams come true are quite a bit different; but they're still pipe dreams:
-like, what color jaguar do you sign up for just in case you win the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes - how many of you know what I'm talking about? Somebody's lying!
-here's a teenage mother's wish - your 13 year old saying one evening, "Mom, you sure have worked hard today, you sit down and rest and I'll clean up the kitchen"
-every man wishes the mechanic would say, "That strange sound and billowing blue smoke is nothing at all - I just need to tighten the fan belt, and clean the battery cables."
-or the state patrolman saying, "You were only going 55? I apologize, my radar must not be working today - sorry to bother you."
-here's a young mother's wish - that your 3 year old would run around the house saying, "Yes, Mommy; yes, Mommy - yes?!"
. . . or your husband would come home to leftovers and say, "Tuna casserole again? Great!"
By the way wives, if your husband complains, try this one on - one woman was overheard saying to her friend, "I have the perfect recipe for meatloaf - it works for me every time - I simply mention it to my husband and he says, "Let's go out to eat tonight."
If you did get your wish . . . what would you want?!
Well, believe it or not - Solomon was given one wish...any wish!
Go back to I Kings 3:6. Then Solomon said, "Thou hast shown great lovingkindness to Thy servant David my father, according as he walked before Thee in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward Thee; and Thou has reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that Thou has given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. You could write one word besides these verses in your margin - GRATITUDE - In effect, "Lord you have done so many wonderful things, and you have given me so much already - my heritage - my holy calling! If God were to come to us and say, "Ask anything and I'll do it - how many of us would stop long enough before we got to our grocery list of items, to say, "Oh, Lord, you've already done so much - I want to thank you for that!"
The next verses could be marked with the one word - HUMILITY!
7. And now, O Lord my God, Thou has made Thy servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in."
Can you imagine an 18 or 19 year old saying "I need help" - at a time in our lives when we know how to do more than people will give us credit, and if they'd just get out of our way we could change the world - at that time in his life, a teenager named Solomon said, "God, I don't know how to do this . . . I can't even find the front door."
Contrast Solomon with his brothers Absalom and Adonijah - they knew they could be the King - they knew how to lead the nation! They said, "I will be king!"
Solomon said, v. 7 "Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of my father David."
I am who I am because you made me!
I LOVE THE STATEMENT BY THE reformer Martin Luther, who once said, "God made the worlds out of nothing, and when you and I consider ourselves nothing, He can create something out of us as well."
I have scrolling across the screen of my computer, whenever it's on but not in use a quote from missionary Hudson Taylor who impacted China for God - Hudson Taylor said, "God chose me because I was weak enough and quiet enough and small enough to be used by Him.
Now notice verse 8. And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. By the way, the word translated "a great people" can be literally translated "a heavy people" - in other words, "Lord leading this people will be a heavy thing - I'm not sure my shoulders are quite broad enough. . ." You ever feel like Solomon?! You have a responsibility as a parent or teacher or executive or housewife or a student - "Man, this calling is a heavy burden. . ."
For those of you who take your role in life seriously, who feel the weight of responsibility - who go to the Lord with the words, "Lord life is heavy. . ." you're the ones who can make the wish Solomon made - and see the wish come true - for the New Testament book of James records, Eugene Peterson's paraphrase is outstanding, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. (another way of saying, "when life gets heavy") You know that under pressure, your faith is forced into the open . . . don't try to get out of anything prematurely. . .let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. . .if you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father . . He loves to help . . . my translation then reads, if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach.
Let's continue on with the heart of Solomon's wish 9. So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people; to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?!
The words translated "an understanding heart" are literally, "a hearing heart!" Solomon asked for a "hearing heart."
Walter Wangerin wrote, "Wisdom is none other than the ability to listen."
I like the way one man put it - "Listening is the way to gain wisdom, because everything you say, you already know."
Now I'm convinced that every one of us have hearing hearts - the question is, what are we listening for?
Solomon is requesting a "hearing heart" tuned into "godly discernment".
In his commentary on Ecclesiastes, Pastor Ed Young told the story of two men who were walking down the sidewalk in Manhattan - one man was a native American Indian, the other a born and bred New Yorker. The noise was incredible - cars, buses, horns, sirens, people talking loudly as they moved down the street, jammed shoulder to shoulder in the chaos. Suddenly, the Indian said, "Listen. I hear a cricket. Do you hear it? The New Yorker was astounded. "No way? You couldn't possibly hear a cricket on a Manhattan sidewalk during rush hour." "No, I'm serious" the Indian man countered, and to prove it, he stopped, bent down, and picked up a cricket from between a crack in the sidewalk. "How could you hear it?" the New Yorker asked. "Easy," said his friend. "I've lived outdoors all my life. My ears are tuned into sounds like this and I can hear a cricket in spite of lots of other noise." Then the Indian said, "Watch this." And he reached into his pocket, pulled out a quarter, and dropped it on the concrete. As soon as it hit the sidewalk, every head turned. Everyone heard it. . . you hear what you are listening for. Our ears pick up the sounds to which they are tuned.
The question is, "What do our hearts hear?"
Solomon's wish is that his heart would be tuned into hearing wisdom; that he would be able to discern between good and evil. In other words that God would give him an instinct for the truth.
That's my wish Lord - give me a hearing heart!
Now in the next few verses beginning with verse 11 God responds to Solomon's wish; He grants 4 things to Solomon;
Notice verse 12. Behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before, nor shall one like you arise after you."
So gift #1 - discernment - by the way, Solomon's discernment will be revealed in our next discussion
But God isn't finished yet. . .notice verse 13. And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor. . .
Gift #2 -wealth - scholars estimate that Solomon's weekly paycheck would have been 1.4 million dollares - 2 Chron. said that Solomon made gold and precious stones as common as ordinary rocks. In the first year of Solomon's reign, his intake of gold articles and coins received from the surrounding nations as tribute weighed 65 tons.
Turn over to I Kings 10:18 - and just try to imagine this as I read it - "Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold. There were 6 steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions (ivory and gold) standing beside the arms. 20. And 12 lions were standing there on the 6 steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. 21. And all Kings Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of Lebanon were of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 2. For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. 23. So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24. And all the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in hes heart.
The third additional blessing God gave to Solomon was -honor/fame - The Chronicler informs us that when the great Queen of Sheba came to see for herself the kingdom of Solomon, the text reads, 2 Chron 9:3 "And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built, the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, she was breathless. . .
then she said to the king, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greateness of your wisdom was not told to me. You surpass the report that I heard."
Finally, in the last part of I Kings 3:13, God gives Solomon the promise of long life. In Solomon's day he will compose and collect some 3,000 gems of wisdom we call proverbs - he will write 5,000 songs . . .
While we all want to rush ahead in our minds to the self destruction of Solomon - let's pause long enough to see him in his early reign - his wish came true - God gave him wisdom.
I want to draw a few observations from this pasage before we wrap our discussion up - "What can we learn from these first events in Solomon's reign??!"
1) Wisdom comes only to those who first admit they need it!
Read the book of Proverbs again and be made aware how available wisdom is to anyone who will admit they need it.
2) Wisdom is revealed only through those who recognize God gives it.
Nearly 10 times in the conversation between Solomon and God, the words, "asked for" are written. . .God is the giver of wisdom, mankind is the recipient.
3) Wisdom is available only to those who are grateful when God provides it.
Notice verse 15 of I Kings 3. Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt
offering and made peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
That's the Old Testament way of saying to God, "Thank you."
How many of us are quick to say, "Oh Lord, help me!" But how slow are we when fresh with success to say, "O Lord, thank you."
This young King, who's reputation would reach nearly around the world - began his career with his eyes, not on the gifts, but on the Giver - and his heart was open to hear.
It was late into the night, when Britain's Lord Chamberlain woke up an eighteen-year girl. The date was 1837 and when she awakened from her sleep, in her bedroom deep inside Buckingham Palace's halls; Lord Chamberlain told that sleepy teenage girl that her uncle had died and that she was now the Queen of Great Britain - and then he opened his Bible to I Kings 3 and he read to that young lady who would soon be crowned Queen Victoria - from this very passage!
This is a good place to stop - and ask ourselves - what are you trusting in? Where are you looking - what are you asking God for - do you have hearing hearts tuned into the wisdom of God.
If God were to come to you and say, "Make a wish, any wish . . . would you wish for wisdom!"
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