Dear God, I’m preaching tomorrow at the local Presbyterian church and I will be using the verses that I’ve been journaling on over the last week from 1 Kings 3, Ephesians 5, and John 6. Certainly a pattern emerged (I’m sure those who chose these passages for the Presbyterian Church intended for there to be some synergy between them). I suppose I could say the executive summary is that a scared young man who was overwhelmed by his situation (which was orchestrated by his mother, Bathsheba, on his behalf against David’s oldest remaining son) had a vision from you and he showed some real insight by asking you for wisdom. But in reading what happened next, one almost has to wonder if you did the right thing by giving it to him because the wisdom made him very successful, but it also led him away from you.
I think there were two main things that were Solomon’s downfall: power and women.
Power: Quite simply, he got to where he didn’t need you and his priority eventually became amassing more and more wealth and power. He forced those from previously conquered peoples to be slaves (1 Kings 9:15-21) and he made the Israelite men his military and government officials (1 Kings 9:22-23). He forgot about the 1,000 years since your promise to Abraham and everything that had been done by you and through the faithfulness of others to you over the generations. He forgot about your command to stay loyal to you and not worship other gods (1 Kings 9:6-9). Simply put, he got fat and happy.
Women: This one is complicated, and I have a feeling it involves what he learned from his dad, to some extent. After all, I’m sure he knew the whole story about how his mother came to be David’s wife. He knew how his father abused his power as king to rape his mother, kill her husband, and eventually add her to his haram. He knew how his half brother raped his half sister and David did nothing about it. Eventually, he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines (the only difference I can see between them is that the wives were of royal birth and the concubines weren’t). And going back to the power angle, because the wives were from the surrounding nations that God warned them about, it appears as if he married many of the 700 wives (the wives of royal birth, or princesses) to form alliances and consolidate his power so he would not have to devote resources to military, but instead focus them on his personal gain and ease of life.
So eventually, Solomon turned his heart from you, Father. He let the ease of life lull him wandering away. He let the excitement of these relationships with the myriad of women dilute his faith in you. He was joining with them in body and instead of insisting that they leave their idols and worship you, he joined many of them in their worship of other things.
So that’s Solomon. Now, what about Ephesians 5 and John 6? How do they fit into this? Well, obviously Paul is talking about wisdom in Ephesians Paul gives us a pretty basic instruction in Ephesians 5:15-20: Make the most of every opportunity. Act thoughtfully/intentionally, seeking what you want me to do. Avoid things that promote escaping reality like wine/drugs, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Sing to you by myself and with others. Thank you for everything.
Then there’s Jesus in John 6. True bread from you is Jesus and what he gave us through his life (teaching), death, and resurrection. Jesus is the bread, and he also instructed us to ask you for our daily bread–our daily dose of Jesus. Our provision for our physical needs, but also our continual dependence upon you for our emotional stability and purposeful growth and actions.
So what do we do to make sure we are pursuing our daily bread being filled by the Holy Spirit and avoiding the things that encourage us to escape reality and numb ourselves to the needs around us and what you are calling us to do? Well, I think that can be different for everyone to some extent. The general things are there. Daily time in prayer and scripture of some sort. Daily time worshiping you. Surrounding ourselves with a community of people who are like-minded in their worship of you. That’s not to say all of my friends have to be Christians, but certainly the ones I lean on the most should be. It’s looking for the opportunities you call us to to serve others.
Father, help me to not only take all of this and put it into a format that communicates effectively in the morning. Help me to live it out as well. Help me to live it out before you. Help me to live it out in my marriage and my family. Help me to live it out in my work and in my service to others. Help me to not focus on protecting what I have, but instead using what I have to help others. Do all of this so that my life would be part of your kingdom coming and your will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’s name I pray,