1 Kings 3-5
(Solomon's Request)

April 8th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, down to the border of Egypt; they paid Solomon tribute and served him as long as he lived.

- 1 Kings 5:1 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

In these three chapters we learn more about Solomon's character and skills. When God asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon replied that he wanted wisdom:

    "Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?"

    - 1 Kings 3:9 (MSG)

Solomon demonstrated this wisdom in the famous scenario from chapter 3 in which two women claimed the same baby. He knew that the real mother would be the first to object when he announced that he would split the baby in two.

    The other woman answered, “No! The living one is my son, the dead one is yours.” But the first kept saying, “No! the dead one is your son, the living one is mine!” Thus they argued before the king.

    Then the king said: “One woman claims, ‘This, the living one, is my son, the dead one is yours.’ The other answers, ‘No! The dead one is your son, the living one is mine.’”

    The king continued, “Get me a sword.” When they brought the sword before the king, he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other.”

    The woman whose son was alive, because she was stirred with compassion for her son, said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby—do not kill it!” But the other said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours. Cut it in two!”

    The king then answered, “Give her the living baby! Do not kill it! She is the mother.”

    - 1 Kings 3:22-27 (NAB)

Adjudicating disputes between individuals was just one of the roles and skills of the fifth son of David. Chapter 4 describes how Solomon organized his officials into a hierarchy that enabled him to run a productive and efficient empire. He also initiated his plan to build the temple, as described in chapter 5.

How did Salomon organize the labor for the temple project? Some of the workforce was conscripted from the population. The king took strong men away from their families, thereby fulfilling one of Samuel's prophecies issued when he warned the people about the dangers of having a king (1 Samuel 3:10-13). But they wanted a king, so God gave them a line of kings that began with Saul, and was followed by David and Solomon.

Reflection and Application

The idea of asking God for wisdom seems like a slam-dunk decision. Why wouldn't we ask for it and why wouldn't God grant it? He is the source of wisdom and desires for us to have the wisdom to understand what he wants from us. Solomon could have asked for wealth and success, but he already had the wisdom to know that wisdom was the most important asset for which he could make a request.

Solomon's request is reminiscent of the three friends of Dorothy in the movie Wizard of Oz. The talent that each character pursued throughout the story was one that each already possessed. The Scarecrow, for example, wanted to ask the Wizard for a brain, because he thought that all he had was straw in his head. But when the group needed someone to concoct a plot to break into the Wicked Witch's castle it was the Scarecrow who designed a clever plan. Likewise, the Lion and the Tin Man demonstrated that they already had the attributes that they desired - but did not recognize it. In addition to asking for wisdom, we may want to ask for the courage to follow wisdom.

Courage was the attribute that the Lion asked for, but he had already demonstrated great bravery in the mission to rescue Dorothy. Solomon had the courage to dream and execute his vision for a prosperous empire, but he did not have the courage to resist certain types of desires. This weakness would be the root cause of the division of the empire that he valued so highly. We shall read about this fracturing in future days.

While we are making a list of requests, we might as well add one more: The heart to love God fully without any competition from other desires. Solomon was wise in the head but weak in the heart. He desired the things of this world that crowded the chambers of his heart. The Tin Man wanted a heart so that he could love and be loved, but he had already shown that capacity when he wept over his despair or the loss of a friend. Likewise, we already have the hearts to devote to God. He built us in a way that we crave him, but we often misread those cravings and fill our hearts with the equivalent of junk food for the heart. We are tempted by wealth, success, fame, recognition, possessions, etc., etc., etc.

Which attribute should we ask for and how do we make sure that we can follow God and also take care of our basic material needs? Jesus gave us a straight-forward answer. He said " 'seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you' (Matthew 6:33 KJV)." This statement was preceded by Jesus' explanation of how we should pray and a reference to King Solomon:

    Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

    Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

    And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

    And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

    Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

    Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

    (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

    - Matthew 6:26-33 (KJV)

If we put God first, he will satisfy our deepest needs.

The Bible you are reading is a vast source of wisdom that God has given us. As we read it and study it in a dedicated way, as you are doing now, we are likely to draw courage from it. The longer we spend with the word, the more we fill our hearts and minds with the thoughts and love of God in ways that does not allow any room for the other things of the world (it will be like filling up on a healthy dinner and not having room for dessert).

When we re-focus our lives in ways that are more devoted to the Creator we may find that the character from the Wizard of Oz that we most resemble is Dorothy. She left home to find a way to satisfy her heart and then discovered there was nothing she desired more than her home with her family and friends (and Toto too). In the same way, real humans like us run away from God to satisfy our desires but discover that what we desired most was a relationship with God, which we had available to us all along. We don't even need to tap our heels.

If you are interested in further exploring the words of Jesus from Matthew chapter 6, then we recommend a commentary from the Denver Seminary that is posted on the Gordon College website:

"On Wealth and Worry: Matthew 6:19-34--Meaning and Significance," by Craig L. Blomberg

If you would like a musical insight into this verse from Jesus, we recommended a song written by Karen Lafferty, which you can listen to by clicking the YouTube object below:

"Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God," Performed by Maranatha! Music

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one skill or attribute that you wish you had?
    2. If Solomon was so wise, then how did he get off track?
    3. How do we keep ourselves on track with God, given that most of us are not as wise as Solomon?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge you as the source of wisdom. Help us to seek you first.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Kings 6-8 (Temple Done!)

    Comments and Questions
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