Monday, August 6, 2012

The Morning After: A Small Chink In The Armor (1 Kings 9)

I was excited yesterday to jump back into my series on the life of King Solomon from First Kings 1-11. I only have four more messages in this series (actually 3 now). It has been a series that has resonated in my heart as I have seen a man who had it all and gave it all up through some stupid choices in life. I do not want to be that man.

We have crested the hill in the life of Solomon. He is at the top of the largest hill of the largest roller coaster, looking down. And he is going to start falling fast. Life is about the decisions we make. And every decision we make has consequences for our life. In 1 Kings 9, we see a king who has it all and makes some good kingly decisions. But as you investigate these decisions, there appears to be some chinks in the armor. These are some warning signs that show us what is about to come.

But before we see the warning signs, God comes to Solomon for a second time to remind him of His standards (vs. 1-9). This is a timely reminder for Solomon, for in the middle of prosperity it is really easy to let the guard down. When things are going well, it is easy to develop a false sense of security. This takes place about 20 years into the reign of King Solomon. That might seem like a long time, but it is important to remember that he has 20 years left. He is only halfway through his reign and God comes to him to remind him that obedience will equal blessing and disobedience will equal judgment.

Even though we may have made wise decisions in the past; even though we have walked with Christ yesterday; we are still faced with making the decision to walk with Him today. We must not live our lives on the memory of some spiritual high we had in the past. We must walk with God today. Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily. This is why I cringe when someone tells me that their assurance of their salvation is based on some prayer they prayed with their momma when they were six years old. If our life has nothing of spiritual fruit or passion for Christ, or sensitivity to the Spirit today, we would be a fool to assume everything is okay.

Even though Solomon had a good 20 year run in his obedience to God, he had to still make the decision to keep going. In the rest of 1 Kings 9, I think we see a few warning signs that make me scared for his spiritual well-being.

How Do You Treat Other People?
That is a good question. In Solomon's interaction with Hiram in vs. 10-14, it seems as though Solomon is only in that relationship for himself. He is only vested in him. Hiram seems to bend over backward to help supply Solomon with everything he needs. And Solomon in turn gives him the worst cities in return. What would our relationships look like if we were in them for the gain of the other person, not our gain?

Are You Willing To Completely Obey God?
In vs. 15-23, we see that Solomon enslaves those who are not Israelites in their land and forces them to be his work force. That might seem troubling, for how can anyone enslave another human being? But the troubling thing seems to be that they allowed the people to continue to live in the land. Over and over in the history of Israel, they were commanded to get rid of foreigners from their land. They were to kill them off or expunge them from the land. Don't miss vs. 21, which says that those who were used as forced labor were people that Israel were not willing to devote to destruction. Little compromises always come back to haunt you.

How Do You Treat Your Spouse?
We all know that Solomon struggled (that's putting it mildly) with morality issues. In vs. 24, we are told that he built a house for his wife in a different part of the country. In 2 Chronicles 8:11, we are told that he did this because she was Egyptian and since the Ark was in Jerusalem now, it was holy. She shouldn't be around. I'm calling his bluff on this one! I don't buy it. It is just a few short years that he ends up having 700 wives who were not all Jewish. He was in this relationship for himself, to be around her when it was convenient for him.

Are You In It For Material Possessions?
In the last part of chapter 9, we are told that Solomon built a navy. There's nothing bad about that, but one of the things that they did was to pursue more and more gold for him. In Deuteronomy 17:17, God says that His kings should not acquire for himself excessive gold. He had more than we could ever think or imagine and it was never enough.

These issues might not seem to be a lot. But added together, I think they represent a man who is headed in the wrong direction. He has had 20 good years, but that is not enough. He is going to fall and fall hard. But so have you. And so have I. What I have learned through this entire series is that in each failure of King Solomon, we see the success of one of his sons. Someday, Jesus will come and do exactly what Solomon couldn't do. He came to fully and totally fulfill the righteous demands of God so that we might be accepted by Him.

If you want to listen to this message, you can find it HERE (usually posted by Tuesday). If you want to read my notes, you can find them HERE.

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