The kings and The King
The Humble Way of Wisdom and the Subtle Trap of Compromise
Even the wisest man in the world isn’t exempt from the spiritual erosion that can occur from small compromises. Dig deeper with Pastor Todd into the way of wisdom and the trap of compromise in this message from 1 Kings 3-4.
Well, if last week was a chess match, remember last week? 1 Kings 1 and 2, Travis taught us about the chess match of those two chapters. This week is like the game of Risk. Who has played the game of Risk here in this church? Just raise your hand, would you? Okay, it's a pretty old game. They just made a 2016 version. I'll show it to you on the screen here. This is kind of the newest version. There may be some other ones out there that are modeled after different motifs, but this is the one that is most recent even though it's an older game, and basically the game is trying to dominate the world and you make alliances and you conquer in battles and that's kind of what Risk does. It takes forever. I'm not a real fan of the game myself but I was noticing in these two chapters 1 Kings 3 and 4, it's a lot like this game. Solomon is expanding his kingdom. He's becoming quite the international leader and he makes a number of treaties and alliances. He becomes very wealthy and Solomon's kingdom actually becomes one of the greatest kingdoms on the earth at this time. He becomes one of the greatest leaders on the earth at this time. This is what happens 1 Kings 3 and 4.
Now if you were to ask me this question, "Well, Todd, what enabled that to happen?" You might expect an external answer, for instance, you might expect that someone gave him something or he stumbled across like a really, you know, rich treasure chest of something. Something on the outside came in and just helped him do what he had to do to be this expansive and massive and great, but it actually wasn't anything on the outside. It was actually an internal trait that led to all of this greatness.
Now that goes against our thinking, doesn't it? We don't normally think that way. We are kind of like this, that when something really good happens on the outside that would fix all of our problems. We typically think that way. Like we think if we won the lottery all of our financial troubles would be over. You've thought that, haven't you? I've thought that. Like, man, at that figure, I'd have no worries. But truly external blessings aren't the solution to our problems.
Here's one way to prove that. Did you know that the Certified Financial Planners of America has researched those who won the lottery and about 33% of them eventually declare bankruptcy. Now, there are some who don't so let's be honest in the research and say that apparently some don't fall prey to that but the fact that anyone after winning the lottery would declare bankruptcy, it shows me it's not an external solution. Are you with me?
You may say, "Well, what about other factors like success or fame? I mean, maybe money can't do it but could fame or success, popularity, and really being good at what you do on the outside? Does that solve problems?" No, not in the long run. In fact, just last week you watched a lot of celebrities and famous people in the Super Bowl, didn't you? And yet do you know that most research will tell you that after about two years of retirement, 78% of NFL players are either in financial distress, have declared bankruptcy, or in relational crises. Almost 80%. You would think, "Well, man, that's the life! NFL."
It goes to show me something: that the solutions to our issues and problems are not external, they're internal, and as a young kid, which was what Solomon was when he became king, most scholars think he was about 17, 18ish, he knew he needed something besides what was on the outside. He needed something on the inside that would help him govern and lead and act wisely. That's why he asked for wisdom.
So we're going to see today something that I think is going to help us a lot in our walk with God, we're going to see that, and this is what Solomon knew, we're going to see that wisdom comes from God, is perfectly personified in the Son of God, and is available to the people of God to keep us from compromising our walk with God. Get all of those in there? Can you read it with me? I'll show it to you again later, don't worry. But here's where we're headed today. This is the main thing we're going to see today. Let's read it together, shall we? That wisdom comes from God, is perfectly personified in the Son of God, and is available to the people of God to keep us from compromising our walk with God.
Let's see how this truth emerges from 1 Kings 3 and 4. Open your Bibles there, would you? 1 Kings 3 and 4. Solomon is coming out of the chess match, as gruesome as it was. He's now opening the game of Risk, we'll call it, and here he is going to lead the people as Israel's new king. Today what I want to do is show you three things from these two chapters. They're mainly going to be from verses 3 through 15 of chapter 3, but I will cover all the chapters but just not in a real verse-by-verse way. I'm only going to focus on 3 to 15.
Here's kind of an outline of where we're headed. Can I show it to you in advance? I want us to, first of all, look at the request that was humble and pleasing. This is Solomon's request for wisdom when God says, "What do you want? I'll give you whatever you want. What do you want, Solomon?" On the heels of this request, we're going to look at the results that were both visible and powerful. These simply showcase his wisdom. Then after that, we're going to see a stark warning for us, though, that even as good as this was, there were some invisible but present roots in Solomon's life that essentially dismantled his wisdom.
Let's begin. Chapter 3. I'll have you look at verse 3 of this chapter in which the Bible says that, "Solomon loved the LORD," a wonderful compliment. He was "walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places." We'll come back to that, okay? But let's just say this initially: this is somewhat similar to how you and I live, isn't it? You love the Lord, you're a follower of Christ, and yet do you find sometimes you have an issue here or there, a struggle now and then, you have a couple of things that you're kind of holding onto still? This is where Solomon was. There were some high places that he made offerings at. I'll discuss this later in a moment. Just kind of mark this and note it, that even in his love for the Lord, he had some areas that he was kind of struggling with.
"And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, 'Ask what I shall give you.' And Solomon said, 'You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.'" I mean, what a preface to his request. Do you see this? Like, "God, this is an awesome request. I'm going to make it in a humble and pleasing way but here's why, because I do not have the ability to govern this people. I need something not only outside, I don't need the lottery or fame or success, I need something on the inside that can only come from you." So he says in verse 9, "Give your servant therefore an understanding mind." Here is his humble pleasing request. It's in verse 9. "Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" Would you circle the phrase in verse 9, "an understanding mind"? Just circle that for now. We'll come back to it.
Verse 10 says, "It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, '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," you should underline that phrase as well, circle it, "behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind," circle that as well. So you've got three times that this idea of a wise and understanding and discerning mind is mentioned. You ought to connect them all on the line because the first time it's his request, the second time it's God's response. This is really the real central focus of these two chapters. In a dream God says, "Solomon, what do you want?" And Solomon asks for an understanding, discerning mind and God gives him exactly that.
Because he asked for that, verse 13 says that says to him, "'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. 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.' And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream." So you realize that many of us tell this story to our kids, that the Lord came to Solomon and asked him what he wanted and he said wisdom, but that was actually in a dream that that occurred, but in this case, that dream or that vision came true. It played out in Solomon's life exactly as the dream happened.
"Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants." This is a way to realize, as a way to kind of say thanks to the Lord for this vision and this dream in which he was asked, "What one thing do you want?" He said, "I want an understanding discerning mind," and God granted him that.
Now before we dive into the rest of 3 and 4 and see how this wisdom was exemplified or on display, let's take a moment to understand exactly what he asked for, okay? Do you see the phrase in verse 9? He said, "Give your servant an understanding mind." Most literally in Hebrew this would be called a hearing heart. Can you say those two words with me? A hearing heart. In fact, some of your translations may have that. A heart to hear or the idea of a listening mind. In other words, your heart, your mind, your soul, who you are is one in a posture of listening and hearing. You want to be able to understand what's being said to you, to process it. This is what's behind an understanding mind. It's the most literal translation would be a hearing heart.
Now let me give you a couple of things about that that will help you maybe process that a bit. When you think about how Solomon here first and foremost asked for a hearing or listening heart, an understanding mind, it makes sense now why Solomon would write so much in Proverbs about hearing. Have you ever gone through the first few chapters of Proverbs and circled how many times the word "hear" is mentioned? It's a bunch and it continues through the book, but especially at the beginning he says, "Hear, my son, the words of your father. Hear, my son, the law of your mother. The instruction of your mom and dad." He's constantly asking for this son to hear his parents. Do you know why? I think deep in Solomon's heart he knew the value of a listening ear, of a hearing heart, of a mind that wanted to hear. In this case, of course, Solomon is saying, "I want to hear from you, God. I want to hear your perspective. I want to gain your angle," so to speak. What a beautiful thing to ask for. What an incredible internal trait to ask God to give you, a listening hearing heart.
Now, here's the second thing to use to process this request. In the Hebrew language, understanding, listening, hearing, are all tantamount to obeying. In fact, often it's the same word that is used interchangeably in the Hebrew language. In the Old Testament you'll find several times where it says, "Hear, O Israel, the word of the Lord," and what's being actually said is, "Obey, O Israel, the word of the Lord." They are just almost interchangeable. In the Hebrew culture, no Jew ever thought you could hear and not obey. They weren't like Americans, okay? I mean, they don't go and say, "Oh, thank you for the information. I'll process that now and decide what I want to do." When the Jews heard from the Lord, they knew exactly their next move, which was what? Obedience. It wasn't up for negotiation or consultation. And they believed this so deeply it is reflected in their language, the words "hearing" and the words "obey" are equal, they are the same words in lots of ways.
So when Solomon is asking for a hearing heart, a listening heart, a mind that understands what it is that God wants, he's asking for the ability to hear and do what God says. Now listen church: that's called wisdom. Now, I bring that to you because technically in verses 3 to 15, the word "wisdom" is not used in this text. Have you ever noticed that? We all say Solomon asked for wisdom but that's actually not in his request. His request is a discerning mind, a hearing heart, but later in chapter 4 and some other verses, the Lord refers to that request as wisdom. He calls Solomon wise. So we're totally textually safe in realizing that an understanding mind, a listening heart, a hearing heart, is asking for wisdom and we play this out and we realize that what he's saying is, "I want to hear your perspective, God. I want to hear what you say and then I want to live that out."
So wisdom is knowing how to rightly apply knowledge through obedience. It's not just getting smart. Are you with me? It's not like getting a degree from the University of God. Like, "Okay, I know a lot about the Bible." Wisdom is actually applying what you know. You see, there is a difference between a smart person and a wise person, amen? What Solomon was was wise, not just smart because he had a heart to hear, to listen first, and then he had a commitment to obey. This is what's behind his humble and pleasing request and this is exactly what God gave him.
As I was thinking through this, I was wondering where have I seen this play out? Where have I seen people just, you know, want to have a heart to hear God and then just do it? And to be frank with you, I saw this in my own daughter, Brooke, just this past semester. I know she's here. She's probably embarrassed now. She's going to be worried. Her head is going to be down, okay? But she went to the University of Iowa in the fall and got involved there and just in her emails to us and phone calls, it just seemed like there was some life that maybe, not that we hadn't seen life but just a lot of things were happening. Man, these are really good emails. She's just writing some things that are really neat and we had talks about them and one day she says, "I need to talk to you and mom about something, dad, and just let you in on something." And she's like, "But I'm a little scared to." I'm like, "Well, you can tell us. It's okay. Nothing to be scared about, I think." Right? I'm just the transparent parent with you, okay? She goes, "Yeah, dad, you know, I think I went to a retreat. I got involved with Veritas and I've just really been listening and hearing. You know, I really think I got saved at the retreat. I think that's the first time I've genuinely been born again. And I think that's just really brought a lot of life and experience." She goes, "I was worried about telling you and mom because I didn't want you to feel badly, like maybe you didn't do your job as parents or something." I'm like, "Brooke, we're good with that. We love what God does in your life." So we kind of challenged her a little bit, like, you know, "Are you sure you're not just kind of like in a certain place where it's trendy? Or maybe you're kind of like wanting to jump on somebody's bandwagon?" She said, "No, I thought a lot about it. I think as a kid I just really was a good kid." She was. Very compliant and was involved in a lot. She goes, "I really put a lot of stock in that. I think of the retreat and just hearing again, like, where does your trust lie?" She said, "I began to realize I probably was like bringing my works to the table a little bit and it wasn't just Christ alone. But at that retreat, it was Christ alone for the first time."
So our hearts were welled up and we were tearful and thankful about all the seeds we'd sown, yet God was bringing those to fruition now and so I'm just thankful that when she heard the Lord's wisdom, she didn't say, "Well, what would other people think? Or what will the university think? Or my friends?" Her first thought was, "What does God say? And if it's faith alone, in Christ alone, grace alone, that's where I want to land." A hearing heart to simply do what God says.
So we're going over there to Veritas in a couple of weeks. She'll get baptized there and I'm so excited for that, and just someone who can hear the Lord speak and then just respond. Amen? So can I just say to you: are you hearing God? Are you listening? Not so you can negotiate or consult but so you can obey? That's wisdom. It's knowing how to apply knowledge.
As these chapters unfold, we see how Solomon's wisdom was displayed as he applied it to situations. I won't read these for you. I'll list them for you, the results that the chapters lay out. I think the remaining of chapter 3 and chapter 4 are really just an explanation of how his wisdom was showcased in his kingdom.
First of all, he became a very discerning judge between verses 16 and the end of chapter 3. This is the story of the two prostitutes who brought the baby and whose baby is it, and Solomon in his incredible wisdom said, "Well, let's just chop the baby in two and we'll give each of you half," knowing that the real mom would never let that happen. What a wise way to discern a situation. By the way, this is exactly what he asked for. Look back at chapter 3, verse 9 with me. Look how the Bible flows. The narrative makes sense. Verse 9, "Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil." And the first illustration given in chapter 3 is exactly this. So God is granting Solomon's request to govern wisely as a discerning judge.
Also, as a delegating administrator. When you come to chapter 4, you read chapter 4, verses 1 through about 19, and you're like, "Man, all these names of people and places. Can we just skip this section?" That's what you think, right? But all this is is an example, it's an illustration of Solomon's incredible wisdom in administrating his government, we'll call it, his cabinet. He had certain cities and certain leaders. He was very wise in how he made sure that the kingdom ran appropriately.
In the middle part of chapter 4 we see that Solomon was a negotiating peacemaker with people such as those in Egypt and other parts. He not only negotiated for the peace of his land, he negotiated in such a way that there was provision for his people. You can read about this. But Solomon just had an incredible ability to negotiate and make alliances that were helpful for his people. Now listen very carefully: this actually became his downfall later. We'll get to that, okay? But at least in the initial stages, this was one of the ways that God's wisdom was seen in Solomon, in his ability to negotiate what is now still known as the most peaceful time in Israel's history. The 40 years of Solomon's reign, not a single battle or conflict.
He was also an expansive builder. You might say, "Well, Todd, we know that because he built the temple. That alone suffices to say he was an expansive builder." But if you read through 26, 27, in those areas, 28, you'll find that the amount of horses he had, the amount of things that he collected, they required a lot of stables, they required a lot of property and a lot of buildings on those properties and Solomon took care of all of this nationwide.
He was also a sought after scholar, verses 29 through the end of chapter 4. You can see here that there is some beautiful language about Solomon's wisdom, that it was beyond measure; it was like the sand on the seashore, it was that wide and that expansive. It surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. Verse 31, he was wiser than all the other men. He spoke proverbs. He wrote songs. In fact, verse 34 is a good summation, "People of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon and from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom."
So what a beautiful description of Solomon's wisdom on display as these chapters unfold, all from this one humble and pleasing request. You see, that goes to show us something, that an internal trait is really what solves life's issues and problems, isn't it? It's not something we get from the outside, it's what God would give us on the inside, namely wisdom.
Now, as you're seeing this unfold, I hope you're asking yourself this question: then what happened? Because chapter 4 is not the end of the book. When we get to chapter 11, we're going to see the kingdom is divided, Solomon's a wreck of a man. He's accumulated way too many things. He has shown that he has actually disobeyed Deuteronomy 17 which said to Israel, your kinds cannot amass to themselves wives or horses, and yet Solomon found himself actually doing this very thing. Deuteronomy 17 talks about not aligning themselves with other nations and forming treaties and alliances, and yet Solomon did. So what happened, Todd? Here is a man asking for the internal trait of wisdom to govern, God gives it, he governs well it seems, but man, something happened along the way. What's going on? Well, there were some invisible but still present roots even early on.
Now, I'm going to get into some stuff that I think is not fully explainable, okay? So you may have some mental conflict coming your way. You may have some mental tension but I want you to wrestle through this with me, okay? Because we see that in chapter 3 and 4, God does grant Solomon wisdom and it shows up in his rule and reign, and yet even before the request, there were some noticeable, I shouldn't say noticeable, there were some invisible but present seeds that Solomon was kind of, it seems in some way he was coddling. Can we say that? Maybe not willing to just rid himself of all these. I don't think it means he didn't love the Lord. Look at verse 3, Solomon loved the Lord. We saw that, right? And yet here's this next phrase, only he sacrificed and made offerings in high places. Something, it's like there's this big "but" there. That big "but" is further explained in verses 1 and 2 and I held off reading these to you because I wanted you to see them in this order. As good as things were initially, here's what led to his downfall eventually, verses 1 and 2.
"Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem." So Solomon at least at the beginning probably was thinking this, and again I say "probably" because I want you to kind of even enter into my own struggle. I'm not sure how all of this fits perfectly. Solomon does love the Lord here at the beginning and yet he has this almost hidden kind of inner struggle with some areas that he's tempted to compromise in. He does compromise in one of those initially, he marries the king of Egypt's daughter for political reasons. He builds her a house. So suddenly he's kind of compromising in regards to what Israel's kings shouldn't do and maybe he's thinking this, "Well, it's just one time. I do love the Lord. I want to walk in his ways but this is so beneficial to our people. Maybe just this once." Maybe that's in his mind. I don't know, but can you kind of walk with me into this kind of tension that Solomon must be feeling?
He also had conflict and tension in regards to the places of worship. Look at verse 2, "The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the LORD." So there was a time in which there was no temple and so it wasn't necessarily wrong to worship on the crests of hills, the tops of certain peaks. Sometimes they were more local to different camps and so they would go to these places instead of the tabernacle and offer sacrifices. However, the implication, the ambiance, the sense of this text, even the last part of verse 3, is that some of these were actually idolatrous places and Solomon felt like, "Well, I can't put it into all of those perhaps." In other words, there was something within him that seemed to say, "We'll allow some idolatrous worship to exist." And we're not given that extensive information here but the word "only" in verse 3, the idea of verse 2, the however aspect of it, seems to say to us something's going on in these worship places that shouldn't necessarily go on. It's not expansive yet, maybe it's not deeply embedded, but something's not exactly right.
So you have Solomon as a king who loves the Lord, yet watch this, yet kind of entertaining and coddling compromise in a couple of areas. His own personal purity and allegiance to what the Lord requires, and then the corporate aspect with how the nation would worship. I don't know how all that fits perfectly with verse 3 that Solomon loved the Lord and in his request and God granting it, other than to say this: I know that God often answers my prayer in the middle of my sin. I know that God's been gracious to me when I didn't deserve it. So now it suddenly makes a little more sense, doesn't it? I think you're nodding too. You can kind of get this now, can't you? You're like, "Oh, I know what it's like to love the Lord and yet struggle because I'm coddling a couple of things and I know I'm entertaining some compromise," thinking that one thing won't be a big deal. This won't come back to haunt me. But this is actually what we learn from Solomon, that those little seeds that you think are invisible but they're actually present, will actually become the large roots that will strangle you in the end. That to walk in the way of wisdom means to watch the corners and the edges and not to give any room for compromise, and when you see it happening, to deal with it.
In fact, I think the Lord alludes to this. Look with me at the end of the conversation between the Lord and Solomon, chapter 3, verse 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." I think at the beginning that was his heart and he's thinking about these couple of places where there is not a proper alignment. Maybe he says to himself, "I've got to deal with those," but as time unfolds, he doesn't deal with them. He doesn't walk in God's ways and the Lord finds himself angry with Solomon when he now doesn't have just one wife for political purposes, 1 Kings 11 says he has 700. I'll say more about this when I get to 1 Kings 11 next month, but just understand this is a concerning digression we see beginning even at the start of his reign; that even in his love for the Lord and even in God's granting of wisdom, there are the seeds of compromise that are settling in his heart and I think personally he's wondering, "What do I do with these? I don't want to coddle them. I want to entertain them, but I feel drawn to them at times. I fell tempted by them. I feel pulled by them." Somewhere in this 40 year reign, Solomon gives into more of them and he goes from wisdom to worldliness. He drifts ever so slowly but ever so surely. The shoreline of his life is just gradually eroded away little by little by little.
Let me show you a very homemade diagram to kind of explain this, okay? In reading through these verses the last couple of weeks, I like to do a lot of drawing sometimes and write words, and like to kind of put things in a picture, like how does that make sense to me in a chart? And I've wondered why wouldn't Solomon keep walking the way of wisdom? You know, why not just keep walking as you're walking? Instead we see that the text will unfold for us over the next several chapters and he actually found himself headed towards worldliness. He was just like every other culture in lots of ways. He was acting like every other king, in some ways.
How did that happen? I think a good word to use is the word "erosion." And let's be aware, church: spiritual failure rarely happens in an explosion, it usually happens through erosion. We don't watch the corners and the edges and little by little we find ourselves just drifting. We find the shore of our spiritual life kind of being eaten away at and suddenly wake up one day and there is no foundation for us. What happened? It's because there's been a wearing away of an object or substance through an external force. That's the actual technical definition for erosion, okay? It's the wearing away of an object or substance through an external force. So your spiritual life is an object. It's a substance and external forces are beating down on that. They want into your life. They want the corner, the edge. They want to set up in a place of operation. If you're not watching those, they'll take an inch here, a few inches there, a foot over here, and you won't think much about it until six months, two years, six years, 15 years later, and sometimes we look back and say, "What in the world happened?" It was erosion. It was because we accommodated disobedience in little increments. We coddled compromise. We entertained hedging here and hedging there thinking that won't bother me in the moment, but those things add up. They build on top of each other and they take us down gradually.
The black arrows kind of represent those external forces coming at us and, of course, the brown downward arrow just shows that it happens little by little. We find ourselves, sometimes, at the end of that more worldly than we'd ever admit, far away from the way of wisdom.
So just keep this simple quote in mind, that we're often led to worldliness from wisdom when we accommodate evil in little increments. This is what I think is going on in Solomon's life. It'll play out more as the chapters unfold but I think it's very intriguing that we find the seeds for it in the beginning of his reign. I think that's why it's in this chapter in this order because it seems odd to me at times, does it to you? Here's a beautiful set of chapters about how great a king he was, but to begin it all, it kind of lists these couple of areas in which he just kind of made exceptions. I think that's intriguing yet it says he loved the Lord. It must be the author is trying to say for us, say this for us, Solomon's heart seems to be in the right place and God was gracious to him and yet as time unfolded, he didn't use that very wisdom to battle compromise in his own life and he just gave away inch by inch, foot by foot. Then in 1 Kings 11, we'll see how it just really is a train wreck. This is the last king in the united kingdom, did you know that? It's so bad when it ends, it never again unites. They are divided north and south.
I think there is so much to learn here, don't you? Not only in what makes someone, I'll use the word successful here, in God's eyes, of course. It's an internal trait but then what can eat away at that is the unwillingness to deal with the compromises we're coddling, the areas in which we are entertaining that aren't exactly right. This is why looking to Solomon isn't the answer. Church, all ears listen wide open. We're not teaching these two chapters today to make sure that you see how wise Solomon was only. We're teaching these chapters to show you that Solomon was a great king and then he ended up being a train wreck of a king in some ways. So we still are in need of a perfect king, aren't we? Enter Jesus. Amen?
Now, Solomon doesn't point to Jesus by type, by the way. He points to Jesus by contrast. Jesus actually is the ultimate wisdom from God. Did you know that? In fact, can I show you some verses that will point us to Jesus and help us look at his wisdom? Since we've seen that Solomon's wisdom, as good as it was, really didn't do the trick either, did it? He got it from God, yes, but it didn't guard him from compromise. He ended up falling. So, Todd, what are we to do? If Solomon has no chance, man, is there any hope for any of us, man? Ah, there's Jesus. He's the ultimate perfect wisdom of God.
Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 1. I love these verses because they are so clear and plain and simple about where we're to look for wisdom. It's not to earthly kings, little "k" kings like Solomon, as good as they were at times. It's to Jesus who is the perfect wisdom of God. Look what Paul said. Paul said we preach Christ crucified, a stumblingblock to the Jews, folly to the Greeks, but to those who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the, what? Say it with me: wisdom of God. Christ actually is wisdom personified to those who believe. To those whose eyes are still closed, it seems like folly and foolishness, but to those who believe, to those whom God has called, the text says, guess what? Knowing that you could never be right with God but that Jesus has done what you could never do for yourself, it's a wise move to believe in him. Does that make sense?
So your eyes are open like, "Oh. Here's the perfect Son of God who lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, was raised in perfect resurrection for me and my sins. If I trust and believe in his work for me, I'll be made right with God?" Yes. Well, that's a wise move. So no wonder he's called the wisdom of God.
He echoes this in verse 30 which he says this, and because of him, the "him" there refers to God in the context, because of God you are in Christ Jesus who became to us, say it with me: wisdom from God. And so what's behind both of these terms, by the way, is essentially the Gospel message. It's not just the person of Christ but it's the work of Christ, that he came, that he lived, that he died, that he rose again. This is the message that's foolishness to people whose eyes are still closed by the schemes of Satan, but to those whom God has called, it's like wisdom. Finally an answer to my deepest eternal problem. Jesus is the answer.
So if you need wisdom, ask God. This is why James would say in verse 5 of his first chapter, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.
So as you start processing these two chapters and how in some sense the author is in intending to leave us short of the ultimate picture of wisdom and then you realize that the thread of the narrative is that Jesus actually fulfills all of God's wisdom requirements, so to speak; that he's the place that we actually look, then we understand why our take-home truth is what it is, how we can from these two chapters glean this simple sentence. Read it with me again, would you, church? That wisdom comes from God is perfectly personified in the Son of God and is available to the people of God to keep us from compromising our walk with God.
So don't read these and think, "I want to be like Solomon." Read these and think, "I'm sure glad Jesus did everything he did perfectly," and then look to him and his work for us and then use that and let that be the source of power to fight the compromising areas in your life, the areas in which perhaps you want to hedge a bit; the times you want to try to coddle your sin. Yes, you love the Lord. Yes, your heart is towards him and yet you find yourself like Solomon sometimes in this struggle of like, "Well, maybe this is an exception area."
It could be someone here sideways with someone else in this church. You sit over there and they sit over here and you're thinking to yourself, "Do you know what? I think I'll just go somewhere else. In fact, I won't even go at all actually. I just can't stand to see them there. So instead of working this out, instead of trying to find forgiveness, I just won't go. I'll just stay home." That works for a week or two. You feel somewhat good in some ways, but then that week or two turns into a month or two, and then six months, and you wake up in a couple of years and you're like, "Hey, what happened to my biblical community? What happened to my church connection?" You didn't think it was going to end up that way, did you? You thought you were just trying to avoid someone and instead of actually dealing with the area and trying to make it right, you just stayed away and suddenly you find yourself years later completely void of any kind of real biblical community. Erosion.
Or maybe it's been a tough financial month for you. You're like, "Do you know what? I think I'll just not give sacrifically to the Lord anymore." It works for about a month, then you find yourself out of the habit. "Oh yeah, I meant to give this week but I forgot." Then that comes next month and the next thing you know it's six month, and then it's been a year, two years, and you've totally lost the concept of biblical generosity. If someone said, "Hey, don't you want to be generous?" You'd say, "Oh sure." "Why aren't you?" "Well, I don't know what happened." Erosion.
It could be true in how we serve other people. Sometimes we just think, "Well, I'm just so busy, Todd. I don't have time for anyone else. I've got this massive calendar and schedule and these kids and it just takes a lot of my time and focus. But one day when the kids are gone, I'll get to it." Then the kids get gone and you're so embedded and ingrained into your own schedule that it is like pulling teeth to get you to have other centered compassionate lifestyle. There is no one on your radar but you. If someone had said to you, "Do you think you'll end up in 15 years with a completely self-centered lifestyle and schedule?" "No." How did it happen, though. Erosion.
It happens in marriages, doesn't it? It starts off great and then there is just that one moment of unforgiveness, that one time when a word is not apologized for, there are those times in which we don't communicate well and things settle in and suddenly it's a week or a month or a year and you've never settled it. Then you just go the basement and sleep there or they go to the guest room. You eat dinner in front of the tv. You stop talking. You wake up one day and you're 15 years away from your anniversary when you first got married and you're like, "I've got a roommate, not a spouse." And you wonder what happened? Erosion.
You see, guys, this can happen in so many areas. It happened to Solomon and the only way that we're going to fight those areas of compromise that we coddle is through the person and the work of Jesus Christ, the Gospel. The Gospel calls us to forgiveness. When you're on this side of the room and they're on that side of the room. The Gospel calls husbands to sacrifice. To get home from work and to go to work again at home. The Gospel calls us to serving others. Yes, when we're busy and we're loaded down with our own kids' schedules, just realize other interests matter as much as our own, Paul said in Philippians. The Gospel calls us to generosity. Every one of these things that we find sometimes that have eroded, the Gospel calls us to and is the solution and motivation for because Jesus was every one of these. He's perfect personification of wisdom from God.
So don't look to Solomon as you leave today. Oh, let's learn from him, amen? But let's not look to him. Let's by contrast let him cause us to look to Jesus who is perfect wisdom from God and then let's not coddle or compromise even a single area. Let's deal with the ones that even when we love the Lord we know are kind of existing in our hearts. Let's take an ax to those early roots. Let's rid ourselves through the Gospels power of anything that would detract us from hearing the Lord with the intent to obey. That's real wisdom. Let's walk in that way today.
We hope you enjoyed today's sermon. For more messages, visit firstfamily.church/sermons. Thanks for listening.
Israel's biblical history is more than military conquest in chronological sequence. It is messianic prophecy in narrative form. This is especially and beatifully seen in the books of 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, and 1–2 Chronicles. Prepare to enjoy the adventure of the Old Testament in our 2017–2018 series, "The kings and the King," and appreciate anew the anticipation of Christ woven throughout each of these historical books.