When an airplane goes down, we look for the black box that holds key information about the moments leading up to the incident. When it's a person's life that crashes, we often look to their diary or journal to find a clue as to what went wrong....
This weekend we look at the life of Solomon, King David's son, in the book of 1 Kings and the book of Ecclesiastes found several books later in the Old Testament. The book of Ecclesiastes could be considered in many ways the Black Box of Solomon’s life, his journal.
We pick up with Solomon’s story in 1 Kings chapter 1 with his father David being well advanced in years. He is about to die. David rallies his strength, declares Solomon as King and in I Kings Chapter 2, verse 1 gives his son this instruction: "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what The Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go."
You could hear it in his voice - David knows what it's like to live outside of what God desires for us.... But he also knows how good it is to be in line with God's will. And so he says to his son: "Be Strong son, be a better man than me, listen to what God requires and if you do this - God will bless you and what you do, and most importantly God's purpose and promises will be fulfilled through you. You will get to be part of God's big story."
Throughout these early years of God building this nation, God has made promises that were to be fulfilled through the obedience of ordinary men and women like you and me. The course of history and the course of God's plans being fulfilled was placed in their hands. And this is true today. My obedience and alignment with God's precepts, is key to not only what God has planned, but for me to live abundantly, blessed, and within God's will and plan for my life.
Now, early in Solomon’s life, he seemed to get this. In fact, Solomon is young, he knows he is in over his head. He wants to lead well. Most of all he desires what God desires – and that is for God to be glorified through the Kingdom Solomon has been chosen to lead and God honors this by coming to Solomon and saying: "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Solomon’s response: "Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child (he was about 20, but he lacked experience), and I do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" Hear what he is saying - "God I need wisdom in order to do what it is you have called me to do...."
We go on to see that God in-fact gave Solomon not only wisdom but amazing wealth and with these gifts he went to work leading the people and completing a task that had been reserved for him – the building of the temple. 2
Now, let’s pause here and make this a little more personal. What have you asked God for and how have you applied what He has given you? Has God given you the ability to make money? Money that is needed to build his Kingdom? Has God given you a love for people? Has he given you a talent or skill to design, create, build? Are you using it first for Him, or are you letting it sit idle, or simply using it for your own gain?
There are many applications every week as we are reading through the bible. And here is one of them. Solomon asked for the one thing that he knew he needed to fulfill what God had called him to do, and giving him that, he also gave him the other things that would allow him to fulfill God's bigger purposes. But over time, Solomon begins to lose focus. He somehow lost sight that all he had been given, including wisdom, was to be applied first to the Kingdom and God would provide all that Solomon needed for himself. And this was going to lead to a devastating crash.
If you look at his journal, the book of Ecclesiastes, The first thing we discover is that at the heart of all of his pursuits, Solomon began using every resource available to him to find personal happiness in life instead of bringing Glory to God through leading His nation. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, to be joy-filled. But anytime we pursue someone or something before we pursue God, any time we use what God has given us for something other than its intended purpose, we make an idol out of it and we are setting ourselves up for disappointment, worse yet, a fall.
The reality is, that True joy and my inner peace comes only through being in the center of God’s will, not the resolution of my circumstances. It's why Jesus could be filled with joy even when he took on the cross. It's why Paul could be encouraging to others from a prison cell. And it’s why Solomon became so unhappy even though he had been given everything. Solomon slowly began to manipulate his circumstances instead of remaining in the center of God’s will.
Solomon wrote: "I thought in my heart, "come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. Laughter, I said, is foolish and what does pleasure accomplish?" I tried cheering myself with wine...." (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3)(NIV)
Solomon’s downward spiral began when he decided that he knew better than God. What Solomon is best known for when pursuing personal happiness, was through having multiple wives. 100's of wives. This isn't a misprint. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 mistresses. 1000 women. And each time he thought to himself, maybe this one will be the one. Yet happiness never seems to come his way. And eventually this is what brought him down.
God allows me to have what I want, even if it violates His standards, but applied wisdom leads me to humbly trust that God knows what is best for me. God didn’t strike Solomon down in his disobedience. He didn’t have to. Solomon would take care of that himself.
Randy Frazee, an author and preacher refers to Solomon as “The frog king”. You’ve heard about the frog that jumped into the pot of lukewarm water. It was so pleasing, he was happy to just sit there and soak. All the while, the water was being warmed up by the fire on the stove 3 until it came to a boil. By then the frog had become so conditioned to the water that he was cooked to death.
That’s what Solomon’s black box is telling us. "There is a way that seems right to man, seems to make the most sense, seems to bring happiness, contentment, it feels good, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:2)(NIV)
Solomon was the wisest man to have ever lived. Problem is, at one point he decided not to apply the wisdom he had been given. True wisdom, is applied wisdom. And at the end of Solomon’s journal, at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, he reaches this very conclusion. "Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the whole duty of man". (Ecclesiastes 12:13b)(NIV)
That's what we're being asked to do. And here is the reality - God knows what is best for me. He knows what will bring true happiness, joy. God knows what will satisfy our soul. God knows what we need and how we need it. All that we are given is intended to point the world to Him, to honor Him. And God is the one who provides it all.
I look forward to another exciting and encouraging weekend with you Saturday at 5:30 and Sunday at 10:30. Bring and friend and let’s dive into this amazing relationship we have been given together. Dave