So, we have talked about Saul and David, the first two Kings of Israel. Today we are talking about Solomon, the third King of Israel. Solomon is known as the wisest man who has ever lived. If so, we should devote ourselves to reading the books he wrote which are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. We might learn something. I wonder how well we know the Wisdom of Solomon. I’d like to start out today in a completely different way. Would you all mind standing and consider playing a game with me? I’m going to read some statements and you have to decide if what I am reading is a Proverb of Solomon or a Chinese Proverb. If it is a Proverb of Solomon, stay standing. If you think it is a Chinese Proverb, sit down. Keep track of how many you get right.
- “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” (Proverbs 11:17)
- “Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” (Chinese Proverb)
- “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
- “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” (Chinese Proverb)
- “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” (Proverbs 10:5)
- “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” (Chinese Proverb)
- “Deal with the faults of others as gently as your own.” (Chinese Proverb)
- “The lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.” (Proverbs 5:3-4)
- “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)
- “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)
Did anyone get all ten right? How well do you know the Wisdom of Solomon?
Solomon was about 20 when he became king and he reigned for forty years. During the first year of his reign, he went to Gibeon where the Tabernacle was located. While he was there he offered 1000 burnt offerings to God which is a good way to start a kingship, with worship and seeking God! And there God appeared to him in a dream.
1 Kings 3:5-14 –5 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.” 6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
What people ask for whether they are given the opportunity to ask or they simply just ask for something, what they ask for really says a lot about what is in their heart or what they believe about their needs. God gave Solomon permission to ask for anything. How many of us would love that opportunity? To be granted a wish by God, to be able to dream and ask for anything? How many of us would ask for a special trip, a special relationship, a dream house or car, or impeccable health? Solomon could have asked for anything, but he asked for nothing material. He didn’t ask for anything that would make him feel better about himself such as the opportunity to be popular with everyone. He didn’t ask for a thrill that would be here today and gone tomorrow, but he asked for a wise, discerning heart. He asked God for wisdom so that he could serve God and God’s people better. Wow! God was so thrilled with his request God gave Him what He asked for and he threw riches and honor on top of it. And to top that all off, God promised Him long life if Solomon would obey God with his life.
Solomon not only wanted to do right by God, but he also wanted to do right by Israel. He wanted to accurately judge Israel. He didn’t want to be partial or give preferential treatment to people. He wanted to make right judgments based on the truth.
Solomon’s request revealed his humility. He recognized his limitations. He knew that he didn’t have all of the answers. David, Solomon’s dad, had asked God for a clean heart following his sin with Bathsheba. Solomon asked for a wise and discerning heart. He wanted to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. He wanted to make just decisions.
Not every situation is a cut and dried situation for us as humans to figure out. We are short-sighted. We are easily influenced. Life and situations are “complicated.” We don’t know all there is to know about a situation and never will because we can’t see inside a person’s heart or mind. Solomon knew that even as he matured, even as he grew in his ability to rule there would always be situations that would be beyond his ability to discern what was needed. What he asked for was so strategic because what he really asked for was an ongoing relationship with God that would daily inform him of what he needed to know.
He trusted God to give him the wisdom needed to be a good king and that would come in and through his relationship with God and not just a one-time event.
James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom we can pray and ask God who generously hands out wisdom. Prayer becomes that relationship tool, that mechanism whereby we ask God for what we need in our lives which strengthens our relationship with Him, and the reading of His Word becomes the voice of God which directs our minds onto the right path.
Think about where you need wisdom in your life. Is it in your parenting? Your relationships? Your finances? Your job or educational pursuits? I think we often pray, “Lord, show me the way,” and asking for God’s direction is a form of wisdom or asking for wisdom, but perhaps we need to pray, “Teach me the way” and then we need to make up our minds to walk in it. Solomon wasn’t just asking God for some one-time “super power,” but he was demonstrating a great humility and desire to walk with God. He was expressing that he desired to learn God’s way so that he could do God’s will. Solomon had a teachable spirit.
Solomon had a great challenge early in his kingship. The story is in I Kings 3:16-28. Basically, two women who lived in the same house had babies around the same time. One of the babies died, and the mother took her baby and crept into the room of the other woman and exchanged her baby for the baby that was still alive. In the morning, the mother whose child had been stolen realized what had happened. She confronted the woman who took her baby, and of course, the baby-stealer denied it. They brought the case before the king.
That is a real dilemma. No previous experience could have prepared Solomon for this particular scenario. He hadn’t ever encountered anything like this and probably never did again. He couldn’t rely on his own wisdom. He needed to dig into that relationship with God, that desire to do God’s will, and receive wisdom from God in order to make the right call.
We pick up the story in verse 24: 24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” 26 The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” 27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”
So Solomon was faced with a huge dilemma. One of these mothers was the real baby’s mother and one was an attempted baby stealer. How could he know what to do when both ladies were claiming to be the baby’s mother? He did something to expose the real mother’s heart. Once he saw her concern, the real mother’s concern, for her baby and her willingness to give the other woman her baby if it meant her baby could live, he knew which one was the real mother and was able to give the baby back to her.
Read verse 28: When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice. The people of Israel knew Solomon was not only wise, but that he was someone they could trust to do the right thing. Solomon was going to be a king who knew how to get to the bottom of the truth even in difficult situations because he was receiving wisdom from God.
In the remainder of our time let’s look at some of the Wisdom of Solomon and see how it might enable us to become wise in every area of our lives.
Proverbs 3:1-2 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
Living well begins with a hunger to know what God has to say about our lives.
COMMIT TO EXPOSING YOUR HEART TO GOD’S WORD.
Every time you read the Word of God you are sowing seeds of righteousness into your life. Do you realize that? God’s Word is like a seed that is being planted in your heart and mind and it works on your personality and your passions and your desires and wills, almost like a seed works in soil underground. Over time, it reaps a harvest in your life. Your life will be spared and sustained and blessed because of the Word that grows in you. It will work on your life in subtle and in dramatic ways and lead you to the right people, the right places, and the right opportunities. It will give you spiritual strength to say “no” to temptation.
Don’t underestimate the power of the Word of God. Every time you expose yourself to it, something supernatural, something spiritual is going on in your being. Notice something about verse one. Where are the commands of God kept or broken? In your heart. In an area unseen by you and relatively unknown to you, your inner person. That is where you decide to obey or disobey. The outside action is just the revelation of that inward choice. If you lie, cheat, steal, murder, commit sexual sin, or something else that is against God, the choice to do so began in your heart and not with the act itself. That is why we need as much Bible as we can get into our hearts!
Solomon says in chapter 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Why? The battle is won in an inward place, in your heart. Whether you realize it or not, when you read the Bible, when you study the Bible, when you listen to sound Bible teaching, you are engaged in “Heart Boot Camp” and your heart and mind are undergoing a transformation process that helps you want and desire the things of God rather than the things of the world. I remember hearing growing up that the Bible is a book that can keep you from sin, and it is true. As you internalize the principles of the Word of God you begin to long for things to be done God’s way in your life. It isn’t anything you have to work at or work to desire. If you will just open the Bible and expose yourself to it regularly, it has Divine power to completely change your life. Maybe rather than trying harder, we need to read the Bible more. Let’s get our noses in the book, and let God do His transformational work. Doesn’t that sound like a wise plan?
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
COMMIT TO LOVING AND BEING FAITHFUL IN YOUR HEART
As we allow God’s Word to change our nature and to give us the desire to live like Christ we can become people who are committed to being faithful, committed, dependable, and lovers of people. Being right in our hearts with God will enable us to live right with other people. And when we commit to living that way, we are the winners. We are the beneficiaries. We are the blessed one. We win favor with people, and God is pleased. Loving leads to being loved and faithfulness produces favor. Love and faithfulness really cannot be separated. If I love someone with the love of Christ I will be devoted to them, pray for them, encourage them, help them, and support them even when they hurt me, even when they do things I wouldn’t do, and even when they do things that displease God. Faithfulness is really love in action.
If your desire is to love your spouse and be faithful to your spouse in a God-honoring way, you will have favor with your spouse, and it will improve your marriage.
If your desire is to be faithful to your employer and to respect them and treat them with love and kindness, God will give you favor with your employer.
If you keep confidences with your friends and don’t gossip about them, or lie about them, or put them down, but speak lovingly to them and keep plans when you make them with them, and invest in them when they are down and discouraged, it is all going to come back to you. You will be blessed.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”-Proverbs 16:25
I believe I have a responsibility to speak to an issue of our time that is creating cultural waves and has monumental consequences and great power to steer us as a people further and further from God’s desires for us as individuals and as humans in general. I have never publicly spoken about the issue of transgender, but as I was preparing this message and got to this set of verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 it was as if a lightbulb went off. I believe we can apply these verses not just to decision making about what we want to be when we grow up or what college we should attend or to seeking God’s input from time to time, but I believe at the heart of Solomon’s words is an admonition to absolutely trust that what God has in mind for who you are in this life is best and is His call to make.
COMMIT TO GOD’S PERSONAL PLAN FOR EACH OF US IN OUR HEARTS
Embracing who God has created you to be is the way to peace with God and fulfillment in life. When He created you, it wasn’t something random that happened. You were created on purpose for a purpose. Psalm 139 details how God worked on all of your parts, your DNA, your chromosomes, your form, your biology, if you will. While He is at work He decides if you will have two X chromosomes and be a girl or if you will have an X and a Y chromosome and be a boy. Your gender is a definitive decision made by your Creator, and God isn’t second-guessing Himself now about His design. We have to trust Him about that and not try to lean on our own understanding or feelings and thoughts about the matter. The fact that fish swim, that a duck quacks, that a bird flies-all of these are the result of the will and design and intended purpose by a loving creator. It would be absurd for a fish to decide he simply is tired of the water and wants to live on land and think that it would work out well for him. Straying from God’s intended purpose, moving beyond what God has blessed, will result in difficulty and destruction.
Genesis 1:27-28-So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God BLESSED THEM and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number.”
We read in the beginning in Genesis that God created two people. He created one male and one female. He created two distinct sexes. He intended for them to be what He created them to be, male and female. He designed a male and He designed a female, and He intended for Adam to live as a man and for Eve to live as a woman. Imagine Eve saying to God, “I think you got it wrong. I believe I am a man trapped in a woman’s body. You have already shown you can perform surgery, God, as that is how I came to be. Could you put me to sleep and perform another surgery to make me male?” It is preposterous, right?
While we were created with free will and the ability to choose, being male or female wasn’t something that was left up to Adam and Eve. That part of their identity was chosen for them by a loving God. The blessing of God rested on them as Adam adopted or owned or embraced his manhood and as Eve accepted the womanhood God created her to experience.
Beyond that, Adam and Eve had to trust God and embrace who they were as a male and as a female respectively in order to live out what He asked of them. For only in Adam’s maleness and Eve’s femaleness could they come together and be fruitful and increase in number. In other words, had they not embraced who they were and how God created them, they couldn’t have fulfilled the mission He gave them. In a very real sense, what was blessed by God, what He called good, was when Adam accepted who God created him to be and the role he was supposed to play and when Eve accepted who God created her to be and the role she was supposed to play. That is what in Genesis 1:27 God ordained and that is what in Genesis 1:28 God blessed.
To decide I don’t want to be the female God created me to be would be complete rebellion against the will and design of God. Romans 9:20-But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” The way I live out my femaleness may look different from the way some other ladies live out their femaleness, but at the heart of my identity are two X chromosomes have established me as female no matter how I might choose to dress or what kind of surgery I may think would benefit me. My job isn’t to resist God, but to trust God’s plan for my life.
Gender isn’t fluid. It isn’t changeable. It is fixed. Dogs can’t become cats. Fish cannot become birds. We have to trust that God had a wonderful reason for choosing how His image would be expressed in and through our maleness or femaleness.
I don’t deny that there is confusion about the topic, and all I have to say about that is that Satan is the author of confusion and the father of lies. As long as we live as sinners apart from a relationship with God we will lack understanding, (Ephesians 4:18/II Cor. 4:4) we will rely on our feelings, and we will do what seems right to us even when it contradicts God’s design. But if we will trust God and accept who He has created us to be, we will lay a foundation to walk in wisdom in our lives. For “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 To accept our identity as male or female is fundamental and foundational to fearing the LORD as He is the perfect Creator who makes no mistakes. Accepting that may not make feelings, thoughts, desires and tendencies just disappear, but it is the first step to walking in wisdom with God. If you have confusion about that in your life, seek out the help of godly counsel and godly people who will pray for you. There is nothing more that Satan would love to do in your life than mess with your mind regarding who God created you to be.
Trusting God with all your heart doesn’t just mean acceptance of every condition or situation in your life. It means you talk with Him and seek out His plan and desires for your life no matter what situation you find yourself in. Don’t live on intuition, but intention. Seek out God’s will and rest in it.
The Wisdom of Solomon tells us to commit to exposing our hearts to God’s word, to commit to loving God and others and being faithful to both in our hearts, and to commit to God’s personal plan for each of us with all of our hearts.