Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 3:3-4:34; Acts 6:1-15; Psalm 126:1-6; Proverbs 16:26-27
Yesterday we saw one of Solomon’s flaws when he married an Egyptian woman. Today we learn that he worshipped not at the temple but at other places (1 Kings 3:3). While this was acceptable before the Temple was built, Solomon would keep doing it even after construction was completed. As we will see Solomon’s heart was drawn away from God by his many foreign wives.
This is a great example of why it is important to marry a strong believer. If a Christian marries someone who is not strongly committed to Christ, that spouse will lead the believer away. It would be better not to marry in that case.
I’ve always found Solomon’s request to God in this chapter to be amazing. What better thing to ask for than wisdom? Solomon knew that the task before him was too great for him so he asks God for the ability to lead the people wisely (1 Kings 3:7-9). This would not be wisdom gleaned from on-the-job training but supernatural wisdom bestowed directly from God.
Solomon displays this wisdom in the famous story told in 1 Kings 3:16-28. He knew the real mother would want the child to live, even if it wasn’t with her. He knew he edict, to split the child in two, wasn’t going to happen. That is why he could suggest it. Over the years as I’ve read these stories of Solomon’s wisdom I’ve tried to find clever solutions by thinking out-of-the-box.
Solomon’s reign was noted for its peace. This peace was mostly achieved by his father David. During Solomon’s tenure as king Israel enjoyed great wealth and their population grew tremendously. They even received tribute (money) from surrounding nations (1 Kings 4:20). This will be the height of Israel’s prosperity.
Notice how similar this is to the United States of about 50 years ago. Living at peace. Plenty of food and material possessions. A growing population. But since that time we’ve followed ancient Israel’s downhill trajectory.
Problems arise in the young church in Acts 4 today. The church (defined not as a building but as all believers) was growing rapidly and bringing in people of different backgrounds. As with any group of people, problems arose. Sometimes problems are legitimate but also sometimes problems exist because of our own pettiness and selfishness. Its important to be able to tell the distinction.
In this case it appears that the church was just growing too rapidly and the people in charge could not keep up. So they delegated responsibility. This is a common theme in the Bible. God is a god of organization and structure. He also gives responsibilities to people based on what they can handle. The apostles did not need to get involved with the day-to-day activities of managing a large organization. They needed to stay focused on teaching. So they wisely delegated.
We meet Stephen today in Acts 6:8. He was a strong believer who debated with the religious leaders whose arguments could not stand up against Stephen’s knowledge, which came from the Holy Spirit. So they started rumors about him that get him in trouble. Such is the way of human pride.
When we realize we are wrong we can either dig in our heels and fight a battle that we may win outwardly even though it has already been lost inwardly. Or we can give up our pride and admit we were wrong and change our minds. As famous economist John Maynard Keynes said “When the facts change, I change my mind”. Unfortunately Mr. Keynes is in the minority. Most people will stubbornly resist admitting they are wrong. I’d say that this is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on.
Psalm 126 was written with the exiled Jews returning from captivity in mind. They were ecstatic that God has brought them back to their homeland. Even the other nations knew that this was an amazing event that could only have come from God (Psalm 126:2-3).
God chose to work through Israel for this very purpose – to reveal Himself to all the nations of the world through His interaction with Israel. And He wants to do the same thing through the lives of believers today. He wants our lives to be on display so all can see His great mercy and grace. Then they may turn to Him and be saved too. That is one reason why it is important for our lives as Christians to be above reproach. We don’t want to undermine the work God is trying to do through us.
Being hungry is not a bad thing. It can motivate us to work so we can obtain food (Proverbs 16:26). God demands hard-work. He does not accept laziness. We all may have times in our life when we need to lean on others for support, but times such as that should be temporary. We are all responsible for ourselves.
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