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.

A Few

And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. 1 Kings 4:31-34

Solomon must have lived a charmed life. He had wisdom beyond compare; he was knowledgeable, and he enjoyed fame. Dignitaries came from all world to listen to him. Think of that influence and opportunity he had to promote his God!

But before we become discouraged when we compare our lives to Solomon’s, think of the influence and opportunities you have in life. You have influence over more people than you think. You have influence over people I would never have contact with. You have opportunities to plant seeds every day. Rejoice that you have the opportunity to influence a few. Most of us will only have a few in our circle of friends and acquaintances. But when the chips are down, people will come to you and lean on you because you’ve cared about them.

Again, rejoice that you’ve had the opportunity to influence a few.

Beginning of Wisdom

God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 1 Kings 4:29-30

These two sentences sums up Solomon’s wisdom. The rest are in the details of the accounts of wisdom. Even in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes we see the wisdom that came out in writing. Of course he had the very best teaching that the world could offer, but many learned and scholarly men are not wise. Knowledge itself doesn’t bring wisdom. Having a high IQ does not give a person wisdom. We see very clearly in life today that having a lot of money and fame and beauty does not bring about wisdom. Even those who are considered wise in the things of the world may not have a Biblical view of right and wrong.

Solomon states that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). That’s our starting point, and a good one at that. Meditate on this phrase throughout the day and let it permeate your soul.

Heavenly Wisdom

Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.

Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other."

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!"

Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother." 1 Kings 3:16-17, 24-26

We're familiar with this story. It is the first time that Solomon's wisdom is tested. Solomon's task was to do the right thing, to discern who was telling the truth and telling a lie. Solomon got the reaction he wanted. He knew the "mother instinct" would kick in. Most mothers would have compassion on their own children even if it meant giving them away than to lose the children altogether.

Often we are faced with extremely difficult decisions that must be made quickly. We may not have time to weigh all the options that are available, so what do we do? Read through the list of wisdom qualifiers in James 3:17-18 (pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere). Any decision that meets all of those qualities must be better than those that don't. Unfortunately, we rarely have 100% of all the facts when we make a decision.

Sometimes we just have to make the decision. It'll be okay. Really, it will.

Five Minutes Before Bedtime

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, 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. 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. 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." Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream. 1 Kings 3:11-15

I've had dreams like this before, but they are rare indeed. Solomon had given the possible answer to the question, "what do you want me to do for you?" Wisdom is the answer. He wanted discernment in meting out judgment. He wanted to be able to see black and white in a gray world.

We should be praying for wisdom often. But there's another point I'd like to make.

How is your dream world? Are you troubled by the cares of the world? Do you wake dreading what this day holds? Do you find yourself waking up unrested and worn from a night of tossing and turning? I know I do often enough. But I can usually point back to something I've read or seen or heard the previous night or the night before.

I would encourage everyone reading to try this over the next week or so. Before hopping into bed at night and clicking off the light, meditate on Scripture for five minutes. That's it, five simple minutes. Choose one verse and read it until you've committed it to memory. Then the fun begins. Roll the verse over and over and over in your mind, meditating on its meaning, letting it settle into your inner being. Then with that verse on your mind, it will stay in your head throughout the night (like that song you heard but can't get out of your head sometimes).

After a week or so, let me know how it has worked for you. The power of God's word, even when you are sleeping, cannot be underestimated.

Here are a few verses that you can start with. Most Believers are familiar with them already.

Proverbs 3:4-5
Psalm 23:1,2
Ephesians 3:20
Psalm 139:1
Psalm 67:1-2

Good Answer, Solomon!

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."
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?" 
1 Kings 3:5,9

Good answer, Solomon, good answer. Out of all the things that Solomon could have requested, a discerning heart was the absolute best. As King, he could have power and wealth and prominence and fame and whatever his heart desired. But few with that kind of authority and power have had the desire to be wise. It's sad but true. The folks who need it the most are the least likely to ask for it because they think they're invincible.

Look at the countless years of history: none of those leaders were invincible. None. They all have come and gone. So, too, the current crop of leaders will come and go.

Once again, I urge you to pray for your leaders, that they will have a heart of wisdom and will desire to discern between right and wrong. Leaders today do not need more fame or power or wealth or beauty. They need wisdom.

And so do we.

Blessing Others in Prayer

"I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.' 1 Kings 2:2-4

The entire first chapter of First Kings is how Adonijah wanted to be King but those advising King David insisted that Solomon take the throne. Then, as David is on his death bed, he blesses Solomon, who is considered the wisest man who ever lived.

David blessed Solomon thusly, "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go." This is a prayer that most Believers would love to have prayed over them. So, why don't we?

Read the prayer over and over again until you commit it to memory, then put it in the form of a prayer: "I pray that this person will be strong and show himself strong, and that he will observe what the Lord requires of him. I pray that he will walk in His ways, and keep his decrees and commands, as written in the Law of Moses, so that he may prosper in all he does and wherever he goes."

Memorize this blessing, then pray it over a different person every day. Then, watch that person grow in the Lord!