Faithlife
Faithlife

20080727_sermon

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K

ing Solomon, like all of us was a sinner justified by God's grace. At the beginning of his kingship the one chronicling his actions points this out. He walked according to God's statues except he offered sacrifices on the high places. In his defense, archeologists have found such high places had been rededicated to YHWH[1] but it was still against God's command.

Here is a King, who has pretty just established control over the territory of Israel. He had secured a treaty with Egypt by marriage to Pharaoh's daughter.  And we now see him honoring the God who established the nation and his throne. In the midst of all of this God's grace wins out and in a dream God meets Solomon and asks a very simple question. "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Here's a blank check from the Lord of Lord's.  

Now we've all seen movies in which the hero recovers a magic lamp with a genie. Whether it's Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie or Robin Williams in Aladdin it's a fun concept. Yet Solomon had the real deal. Here is Solomon, pretty much the top of the political and social heap, and God says go ahead and ask me for anything you desire. How would you answer that offer?

Some would ask for money, so that they could do a lot of good things in the world. Some would ask for a cure for cancer. Others would seek power so that they might make a difference in the world. Still others would probably desire prestige so that they could take on the role of spokesperson for God's causes. I will assume that those who know Christ as Lord and Savior would seek to lift Him up in whatever they asked for.

Solomon doesn't ask for security for Israel. He doesn't ask for a long life so he can ensure the nation grows stronger. He doesn't even ask for the money and resources to make sure the people thrive. He asks for a "discerning heart".

 Literally it means a "hearing heart". A mind and spirit that is attentive, receptive, and discriminating when it comes to the issues of ruling the people and in the area of determining good from evil. Heart isn't the seat of emotions in Hebraic thought; it is the seat of reason and purpose. When Jesus says, where your treasure there is there is your heart he's saying that is the focus of your life is located.

Solomon realized that to be King wasn't going to be easy. He had to hunt down would be usurpers and there would be other problems in the future. He had heard the stories of the Exodus and knew just how stubborn the people would be as they were led. And he knew his own weakness and need.

Make the jump into the New Testament and we have James explaining to the readers of his letter that we should face every problem, trial and test with joy and if we lack the wisdom of how to do this we should "ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

Knowing you don't have the answers is key to gaining a discerning heart. Why is Kenton's negotiating team made up of Rick, Benell, Bev and Bob? It is because they have wisdom when it comes to negotiation and business I and most others don't have. Solomon is aware of the huge situation he faces and his lack of ability. "I am only a little child" he tells God.

The one who desires this type of wisdom must be totally committed to seeing God's desires win out. That is the focus of Solomon's request, "I don't know how to carry out my duties," he confesses. His desire is to govern the people and decide right from wrong. This isn't a personal request as much as a request for his dealing with the political realities of the nation.

When we seek God's wisdom we need to be brutally honest with our motivation James tells us that when we seek God's wisdom we have to "believe and not doubt". There is no room for a wishy-washy type of desire here. In the words of Yoda, "do or do not, there is no try." To gain a divine perspective on the world and situation in which we live we have to be given over to Christ and His desires for the world and our place in it.

A discerning heart has the power to put us in unique places for the sake of Christ. It can elevate one to the pinnacle of political power or take them into the slums of Calcutta. It can forge huge corporations and move people from the office into the home. It can stop us mid-sentence or allow us to speak with the authority of God Himself. But it is discovered only in the willingness to follow a Lord who takes us into new and different places.

If you're in a place where you need God's wisdom first of all ask for it. But do so aware of and humbled by your need. Ask for it with confidence that God will grant you what you long for. Don't doubt God's goodness. Don't doubt God's mercy. Don't doubt God's grasp of the situation. He knows all of this and the wisdom He gives is perfect for what we face.

As for this heart with the understanding that the answer will most likely be down a road you never foresaw.  Here's something to think about as you decide if you want to ask God for this. Tony Snow, who recently died, was the former press secretary for President Bush. He battled cancer since early 2005 and in a January 2008 interview he was what spiritual lessons he has learned from his battle, he replied: "We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road."[2]


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[1] Stanley A. Cook, The Religion of Ancient Palestine in Light of Archaeology (London: Oxford University Press, 1930), 196–97. As mentioned in Vol. 9: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 9 : 1, 2 Kings.

[2] Tony Snow, "The Up Side," Guideposts (January 2008), p. 20;

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