Summary: While we can benefit from some of the wisdom that whirls around us, to be truly wise we need the wisdom that comes from above.
Recently a survey was done with a group of kids. This is how they responded to the question, “What do you think wisdom is?”
Rocky, age 9, said, “Wisdom is wearing a hat when feeding seagulls.”
9-year-old Carol commented, “Never ask for anything that costs more than $5 when your parents are doing taxes.”
Nicholas, age 11, spoke from experience: “Never bug a pregnant mom.”
Kelly, age 10, has learned the dinner drill: “Don’t ever be too full for dessert.”
And, Heather, a seasoned teenager said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ don’t answer him.”
The Bible is full of wise sayings. One of my favorites is found in Proverbs 26:17: “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” It sounds like he learned that lesson the hard way! While we can benefit from some of the wisdom that whirls around us, to be truly wise we need the wisdom that comes from above. James 3:17: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
So far in our series called, “Power Prayers,” we’ve learned how to pray by asking for boldness and to pray for limitless love. This morning we’re going to focus on a request that always results in a “yes.” Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Kings 3. Solomon is the king of Israel and is known throughout the world as being the wisest guy who ever lived. He is the author of most of the Proverbs, but is also somewhat of a tragic figure. We get some insight into his character in the first four verses.
1. He was politically compromised (1). In order to extend his kingdom and be at peace with those around him, Solomon was adept at political compromise. Look at verse 1: “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh King of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David…” Israelite kings were forbidden from doing this because God was to be all they needed. While this was a common practice back then, this alliance led to his heart becoming entangled. One of the most heartbreaking verses in the Bible is found in 1 Kings 11:4: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” By the way, the Bible is clear that a believer must not marry an unbeliever for this very reason (see 2 Corinthians 6:14).
2. He was personally conflicted (2-3). This political compromise led to Solomon becoming personally conflicted. We see in verse 2 that the people were sacrificing on the “high places,” which is a reference to the sites where the Canaanites worshipped their gods. This was not where worship was to take place for followers of God. Deuteronomy 12:4-5: “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go.”
I want you to notice how conflicted Solomon was. According to 1 Kings 3:3, he loved the Lord and demonstrated that love by walking according to the statutes of his father David. That’s the good news. But there’s more to Solomon. He loved the Lord but notice the next two words: “except that.” I think this describes a lot of us today. We love the Lord except that we gossip. We love the Lord except that we mistreat our spouse. We love the Lord except that (fill in the blank). I think most Christians have an “except that” in their lives as either a blind spot they can’t see or a fatal flaw that they are well too familiar with.
Solomon chose convenience over consecration when he worshipped on the “high places.” He should have gone to Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was, or to Gibeon where the Tabernacle was located. John Courson points out that many people today think they can worship wherever they want. “I can go out to the beach and praise God. Didn’t Jesus preach by a lake? Didn’t he go fishing? I can worship on water skis because Jesus walked on water…” Friends, those who forsake assembling together with other believers in weekly corporate worship face a vulnerability to the world’s worship practices (see Hebrews 10:24-25).
3. He was profoundly committed (4). Solomon was a bit of an enigma. He loved the Lord and yet he compromised and he was conflicted. Verse 4 shows us that he was also profoundly committed: “The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.” He got this one right as he at least worshipped at the place where the Tabernacle was located. And he killed a thousand cows in sacrifice to God. Can you imagine how long this must have taken? For Solomon to sacrifice this many animals shows how much he adored the Almighty. The young man who was ruler over all Israel never forgot who the Ruler of the universe was.