Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 29 October 2022:
1 Kings 9:4 — If you will walk before me… with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you…
God’s blessings are conditional. Even in a love relationship with God, David and Solomon were subject to blessings or curses based upon their faithfulness and obedience. This conditional “if you obey” statement appears a multitude of times in the Old Testament; however, Solomon, the wisest man that lived, failed to obey, resulting in terrible consequences. Today’s readings address Solomon’s splendor and the tremendous wealth he acquired (much through his relationship with Pharaoh). In Solomon’s pursuit of success, he directly disobeyed God: Deut 17: 16, 17 — “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” Surely the wisest man on earth was aware of God’s commands, yet he disregarded them, exemplifying our sinful nature and our complete reliance of the mercy and grace of God. Despite the beliefs of the secular humanists, no amount of education or economic prosperity can overcome man’s condition.
Fortunately, as we learn in the New Testament, God has reconciled His people to himself, through Christ, “not counting people’s sins against them,” so that, “in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God has given us the message and ministry of reconciliation as “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” And how does Paul say we should live our lives as Christ’s Ambassadors? “So we make it our goal to please him…. that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Today, we will all go on mission with the message of reconciliation at Christ’s Ambassadors — glorify God today.
If you are a Christian, your salvation is eternally secure in Christ, and God will finish the good work He started in you (Philippians 1:6). However, God’s blessings in this life are still conditional – “if… then…” as is described throughout the New Testament too (such as Matthew 6:15 and John 8:31 as just a couple examples). As an earthly father, I can understand this from the perspective of my relationship with my children: My children will always be my children, and I will always love them as unconditionally and consistently as a human father possibly can. However, the quality of our relationship, the experience that they have in our relationship, and the practical benefits they enjoy in our relationship largely depend on their response to my love. If they choose to disrespect, disobey, or simply disregard me, my love doesn’t change (though my approval would), but their reception of my love does as the essentially walk away from the goodness of the relationship. Not only do they suffer the consequences of their behavior, they might also suffer my discipline which is intended to teach them how to behave in beneficial ways. Similarly, though we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by our behavior, our behavior matters. Jesus continually encourage those who would follow Him to truly follow Him by obeying Him in order to experience the fullness of the blessings He desires to give freely that they may be received fully, and the apostles regularly encouraged the disciples not to grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit, or get out of step with the Spirit through self-centered, short-sighted disobedience. Trust and obey!
1 Kings 9:5-8 — I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever…. But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you… then I will cut off Israel…. And this house will become a heap of ruins.
Once again, throughout the Bible, God gives His people choice and points out there are consequences to choices – blessings or curses (see Deuteronomy 30:19). The New Testament also warns that we will all face final judgment before The Holy God. More on that below….
1 Kings 9:7 – …then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
God can reveal Himself and His truth to others through your relationship with Him either in a positive way or a negative way. Either way, God will be glorified through your life. Better for you to glorify God be revealing the blessings of a life lived closed to Him and aligned with His will.
1 Kings 9:11 — King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
This was very bad; the land of Israel was given to Israel by divine decree. Solomon surrendered God’s blessings for what he thought was a shrewd business deal. Solomon did not have the right or authority to give parts of the Promised Land to an unbeliever. The men of Israel paid for the land with blood and lives, but Solomon sold it to a foreigner for gold. What about the people who lived in those towns? Solomon turned them over to be ruled by a pagan king. There are many socially accepted and preferred business practices, customs, and traditions that are practiced by Christians as a way of life that are contrary to God’s will and commands. Take a close look at all that you do and all that you have taken for granted from the standard of God’s word. Don’t just do what the rest of the lost “sheeple” (people) are doing. What hard-earned Liberties is our nation giving away in treaties to foreign rulers?
1 Kings 9:20, 21 — All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites… whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction—these Solomon drafted to be slaves, and so they are to this day.
Psalm 124:1-5 – If it had not been the Lord who was on our side… when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Life is too big for any of us. God tells us to take responsibility for our lives, to plan, to save for the future, to work hard, etc., but we are deceived if we think that our security and our future rests in our abilities. God remains in complete control. Trust in Him, and rest in His security.
Psalm 124:8 – Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Your fate is solely in God’s hands. Turn to Him. Part of turning to Him is obeying what He has told you to do for His glory and for your benefit. Too often we expect God to remove from our lives the consequences resulting from our disobedience. Sometimes, our merciful God does remove the consequences of our sin, but often, in perfect love, He leaves the consequences in our lives as his chisel to shape us more and more into the image of Christ.
Another compromise by Solomon. These people were to be driven out. They were not.
Proverbs 29:1 – He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
God forgives and heals, but there is a point where the sickness of sin becomes terminal.
Proverbs 29:4 — By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
Godly leaders are motivated by justice, not influenced by political interest group donations.
Proverbs 29:6 – An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
Obedience to God leads to joy.
Proverbs 29:7 – A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
Godly leaders are not influenced by money. The righteous care about the poor.
Proverbs 29:10 – Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.
Good people will never be at peace with bad people. There will be no earthly peace until Christ returns.
Proverbs 29:11 — A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Have the wisdom to control yourself. Wise leaders show restraint when confronted.
Proverbs 29:12 — If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked.
Ungodly leaders bring ungodly subordinate leaders.
Proverbs 29:13 – The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
God as Creator gives equal worth to the rich and the poor and holds both accountable for their behavior. There may not be justice from earthly institutions, but everyone will face their Maker.
Proverbs 29:15, 17 – The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother…. Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
External discipline is required where there is not internal discipline.
Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
“The world operates on vision. God’s people live by revelation. The world seeks grand and noble purposes and goals to achieve. People dream up the greatest and most satisfying things in which they can invest their lives. Institutions establish goals and objectives and then organize themselves to achieve them. God’s people function in a radically different way. Christians arrange their lives based on the revelation of God, regardless of whether it makes sense to them. God does not ask for our opinion about what is best for our future, our family, our church, or our country. He already knows! What God wants is to get the attention of His people and reveal to us what is on His heart and what is His will, for God’s ways are not our ways! (Isa. 55:8-9).
Whenever people do not base their lives on God’s revelation, they ‘cast off restraint.’ That is, they do what is right in their own eyes. They set their goals, arrange their agendas, and then pray for God’s blessings. Some Christians are living far outside the will of God, yet they have the audacity to pray and ask God to bless their efforts!
The only way for you to know God’s will is for Him to reveal it to you. You will never discover it on your own. When you hear from the Father, you have an immediate agenda for your life: obedience. As the writer of Proverbs observed: ‘Happy is he who keeps the law.’” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 29:19 – By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond.
The law is powerless without self-control which is a fruit of the spirit.
Proverbs 29:20 — Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Godly leaders are careful with their words.
Proverbs 29:22 — A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
Godly leaders do not stir up strife.
Proverbs 29:23 – One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
“Pride is the great enemy of the Christian. Pride is an overly high opinion of yourself. It motivates you to do things that you know are not Christlike, and it hinders you from doing what brings glory to God. Pride influenced Adam and Eve to try to become like God (Gen. 3:5). Pride motivated Cain to murder his brother (Gen. 4:5). Pride provoked Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Gen. 37:8). Pride caused King Saul to resent David so deeply that he tried to murder him (1 Sam. 18:8). Pride led King Hezekiah to foolishly reveal his nation’s wealth to his enemies (Isa. 39:2). Pride was at the root of the Pharisees’ anger toward Jesus. Pride was the reason the disciples argued over rank in the kingdom (Luke 9:46).
Pride is your relentless enemy. If you succumb to its influence, there will be consequences. You may know that you have offended someone, but pride holds you back from asking forgiveness. You may realize you need to reconcile a broken relationship, but pride will lead you to deny that need. The Spirit may convict you that you are living a sinful lifestyle, but pride will discourage your admitting it. Pride will convince you that you deserve better treatment. Pride will impede your serving others. Instead, pride will have you striving for places of prominence. Pride will have you listen to flatterers and ignore honest counselors. Pride will lead you to isolate yourself so that you are not accountable to others.
Humility, on the other hand, is pleasing to God and places your life in a position where God will honor you. If pride has crept into some areas of your life, ask God to give you victory over it before it robs you of God’s will for you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
You will either fear people or trust in God. Who has a greater impact on your decisions God our others?
Proverbs 29:26 – Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.
Your hope is not in political leaders or any other human leader. God is your only hope and your only salvation.
If only we sought the favor of God the way we week seek the favor of influential people.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 October 2022: Today, seek God’s revelation rather than following your own vision. If you aren’t receiving God’s revelation, consider how you might be quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, or getting out of step with the Spirit through self-centeredness and disobedience. Repent and listen for the Lord’s leading. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)