Solomon

God's gifts can be squandered.

2 Chronicles 10

Today’s chapter reminded me somewhat of the story of the Prodigal Son—you know, the foolish boy who squandered the riches of his father’s estate. And since we looked yesterday at what an outrageous giver God is, I thought it might be prudent to add a P.S. today—that all of God’s gifts come with freedom. That means, if we are foolish enough, we can squander them all. What God gives, He doesn’t force us to keep or use wisely. We are free to do with His gifts what we want.

When Rehoboam succeeded his father as king, it didn’t take long to discover that he had inherited none of Solomon’s wisdom. In fact, one commentator (Dilday) observed that "with a dozen rash words, Rehoboam, the bungling dictator, opened the door for four hundred years of strife, weakness, and, eventually, the destruction of the entire nation." It didn’t take very much to totally destroy everything his father had built in Israel. His reign ushered in a phase of rebellion that split the nation, a rebellion from which it never recovered.

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

With all his wisdom and insight, it seems that Solomon foresaw this possibility, although it’s unknown whether he had his own son in mind when he wrote these words: "I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun." (Eccl 2:18-19) It seems Solomon accurately foretold the fate of Israel.

Rehoboam took everything his father had built and wasted it. He took all of the gifts God had blessed his family with and squandered them. And, although it may be hard for us to believe, God allowed him to do it, and He also allows us to do it. He does not cease to be generous, even if He knows we will squander what He has given us. He gives because He is a giver, not because He will force us to use those gifts in a way that is pleasing to Him. He doesn’t determine outcomes. He doesn’t dictate our behavior. He only determines His behavior.

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

God gives us the freedom to take what He’s given us and abuse it, if we wish. We can destroy His gifts, if we wish. There’s part of me that still doesn’t understand that, just as I don’t understand why the father of the Prodigal Son would finance his journey into the far country. The only thing I can say is that God loves to give, and He loves to give with no strings attached. Accepting His gifts doesn’t turn us into puppets. We are free, as Rehoboam was, to squander it all... if we’re that foolish.

God always gives more.

God always gives more.

2 Chronicles 9

There’s no doubt about it. The Queen of Sheba was totally smitten with Solomon. Everything about him and his kingdom took her in—the palace, the temple, the banquet, and especially his wisdom. She had been expecting to see great things on her visit to Solomon, but she wasn’t prepared for what she actually found when she got there: "She said to the king, 'The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.'" (vs 5-6)

God requires an undivided heart.

God requires an undivided heart.

2 Chronicles 8

Although I am the one who decided on the title of this blog, I feel the need to ask you to read until the end—especially if you might take immediate offense at the title. There are a lot of ideas floating around out there about what God "requires" us to do before He will accept us. Sacrifices to be made, penance to be paid. This is not how I am using the word requires. So, if you’ll bear with me for a moment, I’d like to explain what I mean.

God is beautiful on the inside.

God is beautiful on the inside.

2 Chronicles 3

All I saw in this chapter was gold, gold, gold. Gold on the floors, gold on the ceilings, gold on the walls. Gold, gold everywhere. It must have been something to walk into that dazzling temple, with every surface sparkling and shining. It must have been incredible to walk into the Most Holy Place (if you were the high priest) and see the wings of the sculptured cherubim spanning the room from wall to wall.

God is the greatest.

God is the greatest.

2 Chronicles 2

After Solomon became king, the first thing he set out to do was build a temple for God. As you might remember from the story in 1 Kings, Solomon enlisted the help of Hiram king of Tyre for building materials and skilled craftsmen. He wanted the temple to be the most glorious, most elaborate sanctuary ever built for a god on the face of the Earth—and indeed it was.

God doesn't destroy His enemies.

God doesn't destroy His enemies.

2 Chronicles 1

I think this is one of the neatest stories in the Bible. Solomon asks for what is most important—and ends up receiving everything that is most important as well as all the "perks." It always reminds me of what Jesus told His disciples: "But seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt 6:33)

God exalts others.

God exalts others.

1 Chronicles 29

1 Chronicles 29 recounts the story of David’s "passing the baton" to his son Solomon. In his final speech, he challenged Solomon and the people to remain true to the Lord, and then there was a large celebration with music, feasting, and joy. But tucked away into the description of the festivities was, I thought, a very important lesson about God.

God understands you.

1 Chronicles 28

If I had ever believed in the theory of evolution, I'm pretty sure my first pregnancy would have blown that belief out of the water. As I went through that experience, week by week, I marveled at the little life unfolding in my own body. From the heart that is fully functional and begins to beat by five weeks to the whole development process, it was very hard for me to understand how people (especially doctors who know the intricacies of pregnancy) could believe that there is no design involved in human development.

Beyond those considerations, one of the problems with believing in evolution is that it erases the idea of a personal God who knows you, who knew you even before you were born. Maybe some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of such a personal God; is it a more palatable idea to think that there is no purpose to our existence? That we’re just random accidents and that there’s no meaning behind where we came from or where we’re going?

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that, and David certainly didn’t believe it either. In his final charge to Solomon, he challenged him to remember God: "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought." (vs 9)

Is that a comforting thought to you? It certainly is to me. God knows you. And it’s more than just knowing who you are or knowing your name or recognizing your face. He knows you even better than you know yourself. He understands the inner workings of your mind. He understands where your every desire comes from and hears every thought you have.

In addition to that—and probably best of all—He is gracious and merciful and sympathetic. You know, we’re all messed up. And the fact that He understands the intricate workings of your heart only makes Him more compassionate toward you. He doesn’t use this intimate knowledge as ammunition against you. On the contrary, because He understands you so completely, He is the one who is in a position to help you. And He wants to help you.

The only thing that surpasses God’s knowledge of you is His love for you. He knows every hair on your head, He hears every cry of your heart, and He loves every bit of you!

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

God wants us to trust Him.

God wants us to trust Him.

1 Chronicles 22

Just before Solomon ascended to the throne, his father made all the necessary preparations for the building of the temple. David had wanted to build the temple himself, but God had decided that Solomon would build it instead. This was because Solomon would not be a warring king, as his father had been. In fact, Solomon’s very name was related to the Hebrew word for peace. It seems that God wanted the idea of peace to be an integral part of His dwelling place on Earth.

God knows what He's talking about.

God knows what He's talking about.

1 Kings 11

So, God had given Solomon incredible wisdom, massive amounts of wealth, and great fame. What He hadn’t given Solomon was a thousand marriage licenses. In fact, In Deuteronomy 17, God (in prophesying the fact that Israel would, in the future, demand a king to rule over them) specifically commanded that the king was not to take multiple wives. If he did, God said, his heart would be led astray.

God has no problem with wealth.

God has no problem with wealth.

1 Kings 10

Did you notice that as you read through today’s chapter? Whoa! God certainly has no problem with wealth! I was amazed by the fact that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. Who needs 12,000 horses?! And this was just in addition to his palace and all the other things he acquired over the years as his fame spread far and wide. In the description of Solomon’s palace, the Bible says "nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom." (vs 20) Solomon was, by far, the richest man in the world—probably in the history of the world!

God allows Himself to be eclipsed.

God allows Himself to be eclipsed.

1 Kings 7

Well, now that King Solomon has built a temple for the Lord, he decides to continue building. After all, it’s important for him to have a place to live, right? Perhaps if he hadn’t made his palace so big, he wouldn’t have felt the need to fill it up with 1000 women! But, for me, the size of Solomon’s palace was the interesting thing in this chapter. Given its dimensions, did you realize that Solomon’s palace was more than four times larger than the temple He built for God?

God's way brings peace.

God's way brings peace.

1 Kings 4

At least starting out, Solomon did things the right way. He had a heart for others. With his newfound power, he was more worried about having the wisdom to judge his people fairly than he was worried about accumulating wealth or honor. And here, we see that God was true to His word: He gave Solomon what he asked for... and everything he didn’t ask for.

God wants us to have it all.

God wants us to have it all.

1 Kings 3

Wow! This chapter started out with God coming to Solomon like a genie in a bottle: "At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.'" (vs 5) I had to wonder what I would say if God ever approached me like that. If you believed you were talking to someone who could give you anything, what would you really want?

God isn't above His own law.

God isn't above His own law.

1 Kings 2

Throughout history, there’s probably been at least one thing that set a king apart from his subjects: He didn’t have to abide by the same rules as his fellow citizens. That’s one of the "perks" of people in power—they tend to be (or at least see themselves as) above the law. They aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else.