Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence evermore!”
Psalm 105: 4
“Lord, make Yourself always present to my mind, and let Your love fill and rule my soul in all those places, companies and employments to which Yu cal me. Amen.”
Today’s Study Text:
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give thee…and Solomon said…Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.”
1 Kings 3: 5-14
“What Would You Ask For?”
“If we seek God for our own good and profit, we are not seeking God.”
If God gave me the opportunity to ask Him for anything I wanted, what would I request of my Father in heaven?
“O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart!”
“Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell Him the truth.”
Hebrews 4: 13
Today we continue our study of all the women in the Bible, which I might add, includes the study of many of the men, too, for as we have found out, the lives of men and women throughout the ages have been closely woven together. This is the way it was in the life of David and his son Solomon who followed him on the throne of Israel.
As the offspring of David and Bathsheba’s union, one might conclude that Solomon’s heritage could be somewhat tarnished by his parent’s notorious history. However, to jump to such a conclusion would be inaccurate for we find that God, Himself, handpicked this young man, who God called Jedidiah, because the “Lord loved him (Solomon) (II Samuel 12 24, 25, K.J.V.).
In 1 Kings 3, as Solomon ascended to the throne of Israel, we are told that in a dream at Gibeon, God came to Solomon and it was as if God opened up His own personal bank vault, full of heavenly treasures, and invited this young man to “help himself” to whatever he wanted.
I ask you, if you had been a young person, what would you have selected? As I think back to my late teens and early twenties, in all honesty, some of my selections regarding my life were very flawed – both in the things I liked as well as in some of the individuals I chose to associate with. It seems that glitter and glamour were a lot more fascinating to me than the hum-drum of what I assessed to be a boring existence. In fact, in discussing times past with some close friends, we found ourselves questioning our errors in judgment that often found us attracted to the “bad things” as one of my classmates observed. The fact is, there are authors and psychologists who have made a bundle of money trying to analyze the reasons behind some of the choices we make in our lives – choices which can end-up leaving us with a bitter trail of heartache when the chickens come home to roost. I’ll add that some of you may understand exactly what I’m talking about.
What we find in the early life of Solomon, though, is quite the opposite.
There are several distinct reasons why Solomon made wise decisions when he was so young and I believe that after spending some time studying about the time David took advising Solomon, regarding the blessings that fall upon a life which is planted firmly in God’s pathway, Solomon decided to heed his father’s wise advice, at least initially. And guess what? David was absolutely correct! Solomon’s early years became a blueprint on how a life following God’s will is showered with the best heaven has to offer.
But there are four very interesting points I want to emphasize from Solomon’s early decision-making process because they go to the heart of how you and I make decisions in our own lives, no matter what age we are.
First, in I Kings 3: 6, before Solomon took out his “list of things I want” and began to ask God, he shared the verifiable truth with his heavenly Father that God had “showed” great mercy to David. Not only was Solomon an eyewitness to this fact, but David had told his son that God had blessed him and had been merciful to him. But there was more that Solomon had seen with his own eyes. He was also witness to the fact that when David, his father, “Walked before Thee (God) in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart,” his life was centered and certainly “on track.”
Second, in 1 Kings 3: 7, Solomon openly admitted to God that, “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”
Third, Solomon freely acknowledged in 1 Kings 3: 8, that he was in way over his head, “Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.”
And finally, I found it critical that Solomon, at his young age, immediately recognized who was in charge: “Thy servant…Thy people…Thou hast chosen.” God was the leader and guide. God was who Solomon wanted to follow.
Now let’s apply these points to our own lives, even if we feel we have wasted years when we went our own way and did our own thing. Thankfully, our Father in heaven still, throughout our entire lives, wants us to fall within the covering of his way and will. As Frederick Robertson so correctly notes, “We do not seek God – God seeks us.” And at anytime, and anywhere, if we will recognize and accept our Father’s guidance, we will come to the truth, in our everyday living that as J. Robert Ashcraft explained, “All heaven is waiting to help those who will discover the will of God and do it.”
No matter the time in our lives, whether we are young or in our twilight years, God will come and say to us, “What can I give you?” And as Solomon considered this question, he thought about the mercy God extended to those close to him, in particular his father. As I pondered the way I had seen God’s mercy reflected toward those close to me, I personally remember my dad often using this phrase in our family worship prayer: “We thank You for Your merciful blessings.” It’s one of those phrases that rings in my ears when I get discouraged or feel alone or as if God isn’t listening to me.
However, it wasn’t just God’s mercy which Solomon was keenly aware of. He was also a personal spectator to the fact that upright behavior brought blessings and I’m not talking about just money and wealth for we find that even when David was at the pinnacle of financial success, because his affair with Bathsheba brought a separation between his heavenly Father’s will and David’s lustful desires – all the money in the world couldn’t bring satisfaction and heaven’s joy into David’s world.
But there’s more you and I can learn from Solomon’s thoughtful consideration before making his request to God. He realized his youth and inexperience, as well as the fact that the immense tasks he was to embark upon as King of Israel, were too large for him to ever handle alone – he needed a “Thou” he needed God’s guidance everyday – not just occasionally or when he hit a slippery patch of ice.
Not only did Solomon freely admit he was just a kid with a job that was way too big, he knew that even if he was an elderly man, his knowledge was no match for what he would confront as king. And you and I should admit the same thing today and everyday, in our own lives. For without the greatness of “Thou” from our majestic Father in heaven, any task on any day can overwhelm us.
I recently listened to a beautiful orchestral version of the favorite hymn, How Great Thou Art. Just consider for a moment that you were young Solomon, and God came to you. Our great God, who is described by Stuart K. Hine in this way:
“O Lord, my God!
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed,
Then sings my soul, my Saviour
God to Thee, How great Thou art.”
How would you have responded? How would you have decided what to ask for?
Gerald Hopkins acknowledged, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” And we find this same expressive awe conveyed by Job, who after perceiving his small “ant-like” role in the universe, declared to God: “I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he (or she) that hideth counsel without knowledge, therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 42: 2,3, K.J.V).
This is the same God who came to a young man who had been crowned king of Israel and asked, “What can I give you? Ask!” And showing an open heart and wise knowledge beyond his years, Solomon didn’t just blurt out a list of all the things he thought would give him power, possessions and place, but instead, he took time to consider God’s mercy; the bounty that comes with walking in God’s path of righteousness; and the inadequacy he brought as an imperfect human to face the daily task of being king. Solomon didn’t want to live without “Thou” in his life as his Master and Guide. And in fact, later in his life, Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15: 33 these instructive words: “Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living – first you learn humility, then you experience glory.” (The Message Bible). May you and I learn from Solomon’s experience and live each day with “Thou” at the center of our lives.”
“Each thing I have received, from Thee it came,
Each thing for which I hope, from
Thy love it will come,
Each thing I enjoy, it is of Thy bounty,
Each thing I ask, comes of Thy disposing.”
“Master, to do great work for Thee my hand
Is far too weak. Thou givest what may suit –
Some little chips to cut with care minute,
Or tint, or grave, or polish. Others stand
Before their quarried marble fair and grand,
And make a life-work of the great design
Which Thou hast traced; or, many-skilled, combine
To build vast temples, gloriously planned.
Yet take the tiny stones that I have wrought,
Just one by one, as they were given by Thee,
Not knowing what came next in Thy wise thought;
Set each stone by Thy master-hand of grace,
Form the mosaic as thou wilt for me,
And in Thy temple-pavement give it place.”
Frances Ridley Havergal
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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