A PRAYER FOR WISDOM
1 KINGS 2:10-12; 3:3-14
The message of the text reveals Solomon’s desire to be a man communicating with God. At this point in his life he was unencumbered with selfishness, distractions, and the allure of unlimited power. The prayer he uttered shows a preoccupation with faithfulness, obedience, and fellowship with God.
At this innocent time in Solomon’s life he was inviting the Almighty to rule over him. Later in his life this king would lose sight of God and begin to prostitute himself with foreign gods. Here, at the beginning of his rulership, he was accountable to the true God.
Let’s examine Solomon’s prayer for true wisdom.
I. It Is a Prayer of Praise
Solomon remembers the graciousness and kindness of a loving God. Walter Bruggemann wrote: “Solomon sets himself in the history of Yahweh with his people. The context for prayer is a recital of the long history of graciousness which reshapes and redefines this moment of prayer. Such prayer is never in a vacuum, but always in a context of faithful remembering and a grateful resolve to continue this family in faith.”
Life is lived to the fullest when we remember God is in charge. Our praise reaches God’s heart as we reach out in availability to him. True praise goes to him for who he is, not because of what he gives us materially. He must be the object of our adoration, reverence, and awe. Praise glorifies God.
Richard Lee has said, “Oh, for a heart that is fixed on God no matter what happens. Oh for a devotion to Him that is steadfast, for lips that will praise His unchanging love and faithfulness, though all the world crumbles around our feet. This is the praise that pleases the Father and brings glory to His name.”
II. It Is a Prayer of Submission (3:7)
Honest submission understands where life and power originate. This prayer waits on God. Solomon solicits God’s power and submits to it.
Stephen Beck observed that while driving down a country road one day he came to a very narrow bridge. In front of the bridge was a sign stating, “Yield.” Since no other cars were coming he continued across the bridge to his destination.
On the return trip he came to the same one-lane bridge, but from the other direction. To his surprise there was another yield sign posted. The two signs were placed on each end to help prevent drivers from having head-on collisions.
When we submit to God for all of life, it is to avoid a head-on collision with God’s will for our lives. A quick outline to help us remember that submission is God’s plan follows:
Submission is the secret of power.
Submission is the source of praise.
Submission is the steam of purpose.
Submission is the satisfaction of planning.
E. Stanley Jones wrote: “Life holds nothing within it which Christ has not conquered.” Solomon would have understood that perfectly.
III. It Is a Prayer of Concern (3:9)
Notice that Solomon wanted a listening heart to hear God speak. He does not ask for personal wealth, health, or power; but rather for wisdom to lead. It demonstrates a compassion and concern for the people he rules. That was his passion.
Janet Curtis O’Leary said, “Pity weeps and runs away; Compassion comes to help and stay.” Wisdom knows the difference between the two.
IV. It Is a Prayer that God Answers (3:10-13)
The miracle of this prayer rests on God. He answered the king in a way that far exceeded Solomon’s hopes or dreams. God surpasses the minimal heart requests and gives him that for which he does not ask—riches and honor.
When we submit ourselves in faith and obedience, God will provide blessings for us beyond anything we anticipate. (Derl G. Keefer)
FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Recently I was reminded that it is important to carefully read the directions when putting together children’s toys. My son had been wanting a basketball goal, so my wife and I gladly obliged. In order to save a little money we went to Sam’s Wholesale and purchased a goal that we had to assemble. I was tired (can you tell I am already making excuses?) and hurried through the complicated assembly instructions (another excuse?).
The first step stated to put one pole inside another and beat on the ground four to six times to ensure a proper mesh. My error was that I put the wrong ends together and beat furiously until I couldn’t separate the two poles. We ended up having to order another pair of poles from the manufacturer. Needless to say, I have heard from my family about the importance of carefully reading instructions.
In one sense the New Testament is an instruction manual for life. When you and I carefully read the instructions and follow them, our lives run much smoother.
In this text, the apostle Paul gives us some instructions for living the Christian life. Our task is to read carefully and to follow completely the directions we read. Notice the three clear directives in this section of Scripture.
I. Walk Wisely
The first instruction says to be careful to walk wisely. Verse 16 clarifies that Paul most likely has in mind what we would call time management. We need to be wise in how we spend our time. In this last decade of the twentieth century, schedules are fuller and demands on time are greater than at any other period in history. Christians have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to Christ simply by the way we choose to spend our time.
With the proliferation of calendars and other scheduling helps, time management has become an industry unto itself. Christians should think in terms of priorities when planning schedules. Part of our daily calendars ought to include quality time alone with God and with our family, ministry opportunities, as well as our regular work routine.
II. Understand the Will of the Lord
Paul’s second suggestion is to not be foolish but to understand the will of the Lord (v. 17). The context seems to indicate that this verse is linked to the preceding two verses. This verse would then relate to knowing God’s will for our lives on a daily basis.
Often we are concerned about knowing God’s will for the big things in our lives, such as job, school, or mate. God is not only interested in the big decisions of life but also in the daily development of character and our own practice of the Christian life. Knowing God’s will for how we schedule our routine every day seems to be the direction of Paul’s thought.
The big question becomes, “How do we know God’s will?” At this point Paul gives no definitive answer; however, the last three chapters of Ephesians comprise a textbook of sorts of how we ought to conduct our lives. Learning more of how we are to live the Christian life answers the question of what God’s will is on a daily basis. Here, being wise means that we organize our lives around the things we ought to be doing, which is the will of God for our lives.
III. Be Filled with the Spirit
The final instruction for living the Christian life that Paul writes in this passage is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to be controlled by the Spirit of God in the same way a drunk is controlled by alcohol. The analogy should show us the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in our everyday life.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? According to verses 19-20, three things occur when we are filled with the Spirit: we speak with joy to one another, we are joyful in our hearts, and we give thanks to God. If one is filled with the Spirit, he or she speaks to others in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The one who is filled with the Spirit also makes melody and sings in his or her own heart. Joyfulness of the inner person is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s control. Finally, the one who is filled with the Spirit gives thanks to God for all things.
Just as following the instructions will lead to success in assembling a child’s toy, following the instructions for the Christian life will lead to successful living. (Douglas Walker)
A DARING DISCOURSE
What in the world was Jesus doing that stirred up so many people?First, Jesus hearers complained (6:41), and now they “disputed among themselves” (v. 52). He didn’t seem to bring much peace of mind; instead he caused controversy wherever he went. He seemed to be a troublemaker who was out to make waves as big as he could.
I. A Literally Repulsive Idea
Cannibalism is repulsive, and so Jesus was daring to talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. The Jews especially would find such talk repulsive because of their dietary law (see Lev. 17:10, 11). They did not drink the blood of animals and certainly would not drink the blood of humans. Jesus was intentionally risking offending his hearers with that kind of talk. But he took the risk, knowing full well the consequences.
He took the risk because he wanted to reveal as clearly as possible the biblical God. He took the risk, knowing full well that some would intentionally misconstrue what he said in order to ridicule him. He knew that would happen. All public speakers have their opponents. All preachers have challengers who feel they don’t know anything about anything, and if an opportunity comes along to give a double meaning to something these people jump on it. This was such a double-meaning statement, and Jesus listeners jumped on it.
For Christians today, the body and blood of Christ are symbolized by the bread and cup in the sacrament of Holy Communion. The meaning behind the symbolism is what brings us to the Lord’s table, and that meaning is what many of Jesus listeners failed to grasp.
II. We Become One with Christ
In this text, Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be so closely aligned with him that their flesh becomes one. Our daily lives are to become so closely identified with his that we become one with Christ. This is a reminder that as Jesus lived and died in the flesh so we too live and die in the flesh; that as Jesus suffered, so will his disciples suffer; that as Jesus died and rose again from the dead, so will we who have put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior one day die and rise again to new life.
Loretto McMahon died on August 28, a few years ago. Her obituary in the Ft. Lauderdale paper said she was eighty-eight years old and “was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she spent most of her life in the food services industry as waitress, secretary, and owner of a tea room in Aurora, Illinois. She retired to Ft. Lauderdale, and although she never married, she created an extended family of wonderful friends. She was courageous and caring. She is best remembered as a woman who recognized that making a meal for friends is a way of sharing time, talent, and treasure. In lieu of any form of memorial, why not share a meal with friends and tell them you love them.”
When you do this the “living bread” (v. 51) will continue to live in you. (C. Thomas Hilton)