Here is a summary of the sermon I preached a couple of weeks ago on the life of Solomon (Scripture quotes are from the New Living Translation of the Bible):
1. God can use us, regardless of our background
2nd Samuel 12:24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved the child 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the Lord”), as the Lord had commanded.
God made an inexplicable choice when he decided Solomon should be the next king. Solomon was David’s child with Bathsheba, a woman David never should have been involved with in the first place. Of all David’s family, why Solomon? Only God knows the answer. Regardless, it is clear that God does not need a perfect match or a perfect background to make a person of greatness.
I find it fascinating that God used Nathan to send word of His love for Solomon. Nathan was the same prophet who rebuked David for his adultery and murder. Solomon’s birth is a vivid picture of God’s grace. God can take something that is ugly and worthless and turn it into something beautiful. He did this with David and Bathsheba, and He can do the same with our lives.
2. Prayer can change your life
2nd Chronicles 1:10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?
One prayer changed Solomon’s life. Have you ever considered this? Early in his life, Solomon had an incredible experience—a direct conversation with God. God offered Solomon anything, and Solomon asked for something of great value—He made a life-changing request of God. God has never given me the same offer, but the above principle still applies to my life and to yours.
Do we really believe that one prayer could change our entire life? Maybe we’d put a lot more thoughts into our prayer life if we did. What do we really ask of God? Do we lift up God-sized and God-centered prayers to Him? Do we trust Him to answer mightily?
3. God is honored by excellence
2nd Chronicles 2:5 This must be a magnificent Temple because our God is greater than all other gods.
David and Solomon were given specific instructions on the temple’s construction. Solomon built the temple to God’s exact specifications. Both God and His people were honored by this beautiful place of worship.
Note that I said “excellence,” not grandiosity. The temple itself was actually a fairly modest size compared to some of the pagan temples/monuments of the ancient world. I find it fascinating that God forbade an elevated altar (Exodus 20:26). I believe this was done in part to keep the focus on the God of the temple instead of the instruments of worship.* God does not require that we do everything big, but He does require that we do everything excellently. Small, inconspicuous tasks are just as deserving of excellence—especially when such tasks are done in God’s service. Let us seek to be excellent in all we do to the glory of God.
4. True Wisdom glorifies God
1st Kings 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. . . .32 He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five.
1st Kings 10:24 People from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him
True wisdom comes from God and glorifies Him. If you will ask God for wisdom, the Bible promises that He will give it (James 1:5). Let me give you a simple definition of wisdom: wisdom is the ability to made good life decisions.
Making good, wise decisions glorifies God. The reverse is also true—ignoring God’s word and making foolish decisions dishonors God. People will notice if you are wise in dealing with your relationships and your life as a whole. If they see God’s wisdom in your life, they will come to you for guidance and advice. This can be a wonderful opportunity to glorify God and lead others to Him!
5. It takes great integrity to handle success/prosperity
2nd Chronicles 9:22 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.
1st Kings 11:7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
Solomon’s kingdom was marked by unprecedented peace, wealth, and splendor. He was the wisest man who ever lived, yet he did not handle his prosperity well. His resources, in fact, eventually went into the construction of pagan temples. Israel itself would soon follow in his footsteps of forgetting God. The greater our prosperity or success, the more likely we are to forget our need for God (you won’t hear this from those who preach the “health/wealth/prosperity gospel”). Let us never forget this inherit danger that comes with material and other blessings. Don’t just pray for success—pray for the character to handle success as well.
6. Bad company corrupts good character
1st Kings 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
Solomon was not immune from the influence of those he chose to spend his time with. Being supremely wise and God’s anointed did not protect him from this. We will become like those we chose to be close to—there is no escaping this reality. Let us chose wisely those who will be our friends and influencers.
*Many of God’s instructions about worship were also designed to distinguish it from pagan rituals. I wonder if there is another principle at work in the Exodus command: If we “elevate” a person, we will eventually see a side of him that is not too flattering. I understand that this may be “stretching it” a bit, but it seems that God was making a point other than concern for the priests’ modesty.
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