We Own Our Sins!

Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. 1 Kings 11:26

This is the third reference in this chapter to enemies that the Lord raised up against Solomon because of his sin. Solomon’s sin against the Lord was his own. His wives led him down the wrong path but it still was Solomon who was engaging in idol worship. He rebelled. You could probably make a case that this was all a result of David sinning against Bathsheba and then Uriah (ultimately sinning against God), but that’s not entirely fair.

Yes, David paid a high price for his sin. We see the dysfunction in his family. However, sin is a choice. It was a choice for Saul, for David, for Absalom, for Solomon. And it’s a choice for us. You can argue all day long about “the sins of the fathers visiting x number of generations down the line,” but the point remains, we choose to sin. The sin is on our shoulders, not our parents, not our grandparents or our great grandparents. We own our sins.

Now, having said that, Christ forgives when we ask Him. His blood and His alone can cleanse us from our sin.

We sin; Jesus forgives, our lives are changed. Hallelujah!

Meditate on that simple truth throughout the day.

Mini-Rebellions

Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom. 1 Kings 11:14

In a previous verse, the LORD had specifically forbidden Solomon to follow after other Gods. Solomon made no mistake about what he was doing. He was explicitly rebelling against God. So God’s response was to rip the kingdom out of his hands and given over to one of Solomon’s underlings. Solomon’s actions are blatant rebellion. Evidently he was so enmeshed in worshipping other gods that pleasing God no longer mattered to him.

I think many of us can relate to Solomon to varying degrees. Normally we come to our senses but not always. We want our way and we want it now. But as in previous verses, the change away from God can be subtle and in increments. We’ve got to guard our hearts against mini-rebellions against God (Proverbs 4:23). What do I mean by mini-rebellions? It’s when we refuse to obey God’s word when we know what is right, when we dishonor him throughout the day, when we are more concerned about what others think than what God thinks. When we say in our hearts, “I want to control my life,” that’s a mini-rebellion (that can outright turn into a full rebellion).

As the Scripture says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Turn Back!

The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. 1 Kings 11:9-10

God is a jealous God. I’m not sure that we can fully comprehend that statement. Not only had Solomon turned away from the LORD God Almighty, but he followed after other gods. Or perhaps because he followed other gods, he turned away from the LORD. Either way, the Lord was displeased with Solomon. He strayed. Solomon’s foreign wives turned his heart.

The point with the foreign wives is that they served other gods. They didn’t know the Lord Jehovah. It’s what the New Testament refers to as being “unequally yoked.”

We would do well to find out what makes our hearts stray from the Lord. Often it’s life situations that cause us to stray. We become discouraged, and neglect our time with the Lord. And before you know it, weeks and months have passed before we realize what has happened. No matter what you’re doing that is moving away from God, you can always always stop and turn towards Him. Always.

Even if you feel you’ve strayed to the point of no return, turn back.

Turn back. He’ll be there.

Blessed to Bless

When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions.
How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.”
1 Kings 10:1, 8-9

One of the major patterns that we see throughout Scripture is the concept of “being blessed by God to be a blessing to others.” The phrase sounds like a sugary sweet twenty first century cliche, but Scripture teaches time and again the idea that God blesses a people so that they may bless others. In fact, you could rightly argue that it was why Jesus came to earth. He blessed his disciples and they in turn blessed others who blessed others, and so on. Of course the highest blessing is salvation but the principle of blessing still remains. The queen of Sheba seems to have understood this and praised Solomon’s God because of it!

We have been blessed with many material things, much like Solomon was. We have money, land, houses, gold, silver, bank accounts, savings, investments. We also have families, friends, Salvation, wisdom, talents, skills, and a God who loves us unconditionally. So the very same question I ask myself, I’ll ask you: what are you doing with your “blessings?” Are you hoarding them or are you richly blessing others? Take a look at both of those lists again. What one thing can you bless others with this week? Just one.

Dissatisfaction

King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon. 1 Kings 9:26-28
King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.1 Kings 10:23
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
1 Kings 11:1

Without a doubt, King Solomon was an extremely wealthy man, perhaps the Bill Gates or Warren Buffett of his day. Verse 23 seems to indicate that he was the wealthiest. He was a builder. It took him 20 years to build his palace and the LORD’s temple, his surrounding terraces, and numerous cities. To say that he was an important man is an understatement. And he was wise.

In the end, though, he loved his women, and lots of them. On top of that they were foreign women at that. What’s the significance of foreign women? They worshipped other gods, and Solomon followed after them.

We see some of his yearnings and boredom in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He had everything but he wanted more. Think about that. He had everything the known world had to offer him, but he wasn’t satisfied with it, to the point that he turned away from God. I don’t think I can underscore this point enough, even in my own life.

Billy Graham once said, “if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul, was it worth it?”

We are bombarded with ads that tell us should be dissatisfied with our looks, our teeth, our weight, our hair color, our hair loss, our popularity, our old cars and old furniture, and even our boring monogamous family. Lies, all lies. None of those things draw us closer to God. None.

Today when you’re tempted to go after the “temporary,” remember Solomon’s demise: he was ultimately a dissatisfied man when he turned from God.

Step By Step

“As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’

“But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’ “ 1 Kings 9 4-9

Now that God had given Solomon wisdom, he had some standards to go along with it. God wanted Solomon and his sons to walk uprightly. He realized how easy it would be to be wise but not Godly, to know the good to do, but not to actually do it, to serve God half-heartedly, especially when life is going well. He would bless them if they continued to serve Him.

On the other hand, if they began to go astray, disaster awaited them. God also knew the results of turning away from Him: embracing other gods. There is a pattern in the Scriptures of God blessing the people, the people becoming disgruntled then beginning to serve other gods, and then disaster.

Before we’re quick to judge Old Testament character for falling away from God, it’s a good chance for us to look within ourselves to see if little gods have taken the place of the One True God. What are those little gods, you ask? Think about it, what is it in your life that is more important than God? Could be money, popularity, sports, how you look, craving recognition. These things are wrong if they are what drives us, if they motivate us to do the things we do. Essentially, here’s the question to ask yourself: what thoughts consume me throughout the course of a normal day?

Turning away from God rarely comes all at once. Instead, we fall away in small steps or stages. The beauty of it is we can turn back towards Him any time we want, no matter how far we’ve strayed! He’s the God of the Second (and Two Hundredth) Chance.

Turning Our Hearts Toward Him

“When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence.

When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:

“Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” 1 Kings 8:31-32, 54-60

When Solomon dedicates the temple to the LORD, he lays it all out on the table, so to speak. From verse 31 through 53 he is praying on behalf of the people of Israel. He is pleading with God to hear their prayers if they are doing well, but he also reminds God (as if God needed reminding!) that the people of Israel were God’s chosen inheritance and to protect them because of that. Essentially the prayer is this: “if the people are obeying you and praying for your blessing, God, bless them. If they are sinning, let them know so they can repent and turn back to you.”

From verse 54 to the end, he charges the people to follow God’s decrees and that we would “turn our hearts toward Him.” How we desperately need that prayer in our lives.

Pray Solomon’s prayer of dedication over your nation. God needs to move sovereignly over nations of the world. Then pray that we would turn our hearts toward Him.

Glory Filled the Temple

And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. 1 Kings 8:11

To me, there is something powerful and dramatic about this verse. Solomon has just furnished most of the temple, and the priests have left the Holy Place. The glory of the LORD filled his temple. Say that out loud and take in the fullness of it.

To many reading this, the parallel between what happened back then and what has happened in your lives is crystal clear: our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the LORD wants to fill it with his glory. Not just one time, but over and over again.

The Holy Spirit is in our temples, but by our sinful actions we squelch it and grieve it. Ask that the Holy Spirit would fall afresh on you. Let the Holy Spirit fill your temple. Pray to be filled. Rest in that filling. Then, do it all again the next day. God wants to reign supreme in our temples.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3)

Huram

King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was a man of Tyre and a craftsman in bronze. Huram was highly skilled and experienced in all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him. 1 Kings 7:13-14

Huram. You’ve probably never heard the name before. You may have just glossed over the name when you embarked on your Through the Bible in a Year program. But out of all the workers who worked on the temple and Solomon’s palace, Solomon called this man out from Tyre. We would say that his reputation preceded him. Then the Bible lays out the many things that Huram had been commissioned to build: pillars, networks of interwoven chains (with 400 bronze pomegranates), capitals to go on top of the pillars, the Sea adn twelve bulls under it, movable stands with wheels and axels, basins, pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls. When 25+ verses in the Old Testament are dedicated to detailing your work, you’ve made quite a good name for yourself.

Huram was a master craftsman in bronze. It’s probably an understatement. That’s what he did. We don’t know if he was a good husband, great father, or upright citizen. We don’t know much more about Huram, but we do know that he was a master craftsman. He was passionate about bronze.

What are you passionate about? What do you do that’s just fantastic? What rings your bell? Pray to God that He will use you in that gifting and passion. You may not be sought after like Huram was, but you can still glorify God with that talent or passion.