Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 23 October 2022:
1 Kings 3:1 — Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David.
Solomon began his reign by going against God’s specific word not to entangle with Egypt, not to marry unbelieving women, and not to have many wives. (Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 17:16) Almost immediately, Solomon, the wisest ruler of all time, had sowed the seeds for his downfall – “When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods.” (1 Kings 11:4) Solomon’s disobedience to God, the ultimate leadership failure, left Israel permanently divided until its final destruction. Why would Solomon directly disobey God by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter? Solomon was following a common practice used by rulers during that historical period to maintain peace between nations. His decision was likely celebrated by many as a great step forward for world peace. But there is no real peace apart from peace with God. Solomon chose worldly wisdom over true wisdom which comes only from God. True wisdom would have been to fear the LORD and obey His commands, defying worldly expectations. If only he had trusted the Lord and remained obedient to His commands for marriage and holiness. Today, many of God’s commands are viewed as outdated and out of touch with how the world actually works, and Christians have compromised to keep the peace and to get along. As a result, the Church is more divided than ever before, and Christians suffer the same consequences of sin as everyone else.
1 Kings 3:2 — The people were sacrificing at the high places, however….
A historic trend revealed as a warning in the Old Testament for future generations is that while a nation is heading down a path of destruction, it often continues proudly in religious practices, deceiving itself in believing that all is well with God. “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35; see also Romans 2:11)
- Jeremiah 6:14 – They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.
- Ezekiel 13:10 — Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash….
- Ezekiel 13:16 — …the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.
- Isaiah 56:10 — His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
1 Kings 3:3 — Only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.
David was in disobedience to Deuteronomy 12. Why? Again, probably because everyone else was doing it. Here is another incident where Solomon’s compromise set the stage for his future idolatry that would cause him to lose the kingdom. This is the deceptive, destructive worldly ‘wisdom’ of “acceptance”, “inclusion”, and “tolerance”, that is so widely proclaimed today. But not every idea or lifestyle is equally honorable, valuable, or beneficial. God is the Author of ethics, right and wrong, and opposites cannot both be right. No one on earth was smarter than Solomon, yet intelligence cannot overcome pride and an unfaithful heart. Every person makes a choice to obey God or not. There are really only two kingdoms on earth. The Kingdom of God, and the kingdom of man, with its many warring factions. Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom of God. We will soon read Ecclesiastes where Solomon laments at the end of his days over his ultimate failure to simply obey God and serve the Kingdom of God on earth faithfully.
1 Kings 3:7 — I do not know how to go out or come in.
Humility is the path to greatness. Knowing that you don’t know anything is key. God is very clear in his word. You cannot know how to make good choices without His guidance, and you cannot obtain the self-control required to resist temptation apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Kings 3:11, 12 — Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word.
Wisdom comes through selfless sacrifice, seeking what is right in God’s eyes and best for others over self. You have to decide if you want wisdom or rather comfort. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone.
1 Kings 3:13 — I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.
When you focus on God and others, God will take care of you better than you could take care of yourself by directing your efforts towards personal success and security. God gives His people abilities and success, not for their glory and comfort but rather for His glory. If you start to believe life is for you or about you, you have walked away from God.
1 Kings 3:14 — And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.
Intelligence and talent is not enough. Obedience is essential.
1 Kings 3:26 — Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.”
There is worldly ‘love’ and then there is genuine godly love. All ‘love’ that is not godly love (selfless) is really lust (self-centered desire). Most of the time, when people profess love, they are really describing their lust. The worldly form of love is ultimately focused on self – getting what you want from someone else, approval, validation, pleasure, gifts, etc. Worldly love, which is not really love, will eventually hurt the object of affection. Godly love is selfless – wanting what is best for the other regardless the personal cost. True love is ready to surrender everything for the sake the one loved. King Solomon knew that true love would be self-evident by the choices made by the one who truly loves.
Psalm 122:1 — I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
How excited are you to go to church today? Do you have a heart to worship God in fellowship with God’s people? The Bible says that how much you really love God is revealed by how much you really love others, how much unity you have with fellow believers. Do you have a passion for your church? If not, your relationship problem starts with your relationship with God. Pray about your heart for God and others — the two are inseparable: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
Psalm 122:8, 9 – For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.
The way of a child of God is to seek peace for others and not to just give them comforting words of peace but also to personally work to bring them peace, meeting their needs in a tangible way, while seeking to draw them closer to the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Don’t just say, “Have a nice day”, but do something real to make it nice.
Psalm 123 – Look to the LORD if you need mercy. You won’t find complete mercy anywhere else.
Psalm 123:2 – Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Keep your eyes on Jesus today; follow Him closely.
Proverbs 23:1-3 — When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
Many promise wealth and comfort with hidden agendas designed to gain control over you or your wealth production capacity.
Proverbs 23:4 – Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
Do not think that your security comes from wealth and so neglect your relationship with God in order to pursue riches. If you cannot find time to study the Bible, pray, fellowship with your church, raise your family as disciples, minister to the needs of others, etc, you are likely doing something wrong. People work too hard when they do not trust God for their future provisions or when they are not satisfied with what God has provided. Their insecurities and appetites cause them to toil to the point where they lose their peace and joy. They cannot even enjoy what they have.
Proverbs 23:12 – Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
God says you show trust in Him by studying His word and then applying His word. Study is essential, but study without application is only knowledge that puffs up. We love others through application.
Proverbs 23:13, 14 — Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
The home is the school house of character development, and parental discipline is a critical part of the development process. The way parents discipline their children should serve as a model for children to understand how God disciplines His children.
Proverbs 23:15 – My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.
All that godly parents want from their children is that they too live godly lives, surrendered wholeheartedly to Jesus.
Proverbs 23:17 — Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
The Bible describes envy as one of the most dangerous of emotions. It involves resentment over the wealth, blessings, talents, good fortune, or achievements of another. The envious person feels a deep sense of injustice that can only be directed at God who provides all things to all people. This verse points out that envy is a deep spiritual sin which tempts you to rebel in your tantrum against God. Be very careful not to be envious of others, but rather be thankful for what God is doing in your life to bless you.
Proverbs 23:20 — Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat….
The Bible compare gluttons with drunkards, people who eat too much with people who drink too much. While many churches address sins associated with alcohol, statistics show that evangelical Christians are fatter as a group than the unbelieving population, and obesity is one of the top three leading causes of death in America. Both gluttony and drunkenness reveal a lack of self-control; self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit. So, these conditions are spiritual conditions which require repentance. Don’t turn to Jenny Craig to solve that diet problem; turn to God and examine your heart.
Proverbs 23:24 – The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Family life should bring joy.
Proverbs 23:26 — My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
Your heart guides what you choose to focus on, but what you choose to focus on also affects the condition of your heart. We must do as Job did and make a covenant not to gaze upon what we shouldn’t in order to guard the heart. (Job 31:1) This is a premeditated decision.
Proverbs 23:26-27 – My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well.
A young person’s sexual sin can ruin their future, though their passions blind them from this long-view.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 October 2022: Consider the strength of your faith (how much you trust God at the moment of decision), hope (how much you trust God with the future), and love (how willing you are to selflessly and unconditionally love others, particularly those who hurt you, because God loves you perfectly and gave His Son for you). Your faith, hope, and love reveal the quality of your relationship with God. If you find yourself lacking, don’t try harder but rather draw closer to Jesus. Read John 17 and seek the “oneness” with God for which Jesus prayed for you.