Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (text from The Bible in 90 Days) 10/11/2009

The Wisdom of Solomon

Lessons:     Amos 5:6-7, 10-15     Psalm 90:12-17     Hebrews 4:12-16     St. Mark 10:17-31     Semicontinuous Series         Job 23:1-9, 16-17         Psalm 22:1-15 (1)   Prayer of the Day     Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us your gift of faith, that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to what lies ahead, we may follow the way of your commandments and receive the crown of everlasting joy, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Text from "The Bible in 90 Days"

3:5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, "Ask what I should give you." 6 And Solomon said, "You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, 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 today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?" 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.


1 Kings 3:5-12 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

I’ve never been a fan of the wisdom literature we find in our Bible. I’ve read through the book of Proverbs a time or two, and find it interesting – but I’ve always believed my time was much better spent reading the Gospels and being stirred by who Jesus is, or reading the Psalms and having my heart drawn towards God, or reading Paul’s letters and contemplating how grace compels us to give our lives to Christ and make a difference for our neighbors.

But I’ve long been intrigued by King Solomon, the third of three kings who ruled over the United Kingdom of Israel. He was preceded by King Saul, the first King of Israel (who ruled from 1050 to 1010 bc) – whose faithfulness to God was fleeting at best, and by King David, Solomon’s father (who ruled from 1010 to 970) – who was decidedly human, but who often rose above his human flaws to serve God faithfully and lead Israel well.

The kingdom expanded in many ways under David’s rule. He began as a simple, young shepherd boy – and died a wealthy and powerful ruler. Solomon had every right to hope for the same riches and privileges that his father enjoyed. Yet when God appeared to Solomon in a dream, promising to give him anything he wanted, Solomon did not ask for the wealth, power, and reputation his father amassed. Instead, he asked for wisdom. He acknowledged that he was young, and the country he was being asked to lead was large and complicated. So he asked God to give him “an understanding mind” with which he could discern between good and evil, and be faithful in governing God’s people.

In making this request, Solomon showed great character. He also demonstrated that what so many in his day didn’t get, he got: at the heart of these ancient Biblical stories is the message that faithfulness to God is important above everything else. Some may have been in Solomon’s position, and found themselves lusting after the accoutrements of the King’s existence. But Solomon was filled only with a desire to govern the people in a way that was pleasing to God. And he knew that would be impossible, unless he had the kind of wisdom that only came from God.

How different our world would be today, if every leader on the international stage was more interested in God’s will than how he or she might personally benefit from what takes place. And how different our own day-to-day lives would be if you and I lived with that same determination.

God’s deep desire for ancient Israel was that they might be a sign in the world of God’s very presence. They were called to be a people of righteousness, justice and faithfulness, so that their neighbors might come to know the power and the honor of God, through the way they dealt with one another, and with their neighbors.

You and I are called to offer that same kind of witness to the world. Perhaps we would be wise to ask, as King Solomon did, that God might give us understanding minds, so that we too might look at the world through the eyes of our God, and see the people and situations that God would have us touch, with the grace and peace we have received from Jesus Christ.

David J. Risendal Pastor

 Exploring This Week’s Text:

  1. What was unique about each of the first three kings of Israel?
  2. Why was Solomon so concerned that he receive the gift of God’s wisdom?
  3. How did Solomon’s primary interest in God’s wisdom change the way he ruled Israel?

Connecting with This Week’s Text:

  1. When have I been confused about an ethical or social or theological issue?
  2. What might I do to become better schooled in the kind of wisdom that only comes from God?
  3. How might God’s wisdom change the way other people perceive me, and make my life a clearer testimony to the God who has touched my heart? 

  Scheduled Readings for "The Bible in 90 Days" 9/13/2009 - 12/12/2009

Date

Begin Reading At Sermon Based On
9/13 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1-19
9/20 Leviticus 1:1 Exodus  16:2-15
9/27 Deuteronomy 23:12 Deuteronomy 6:1-9
10/4 1 Samuel 28:20 Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18
10/11 1 Chronicles 1:1 1 Kings 3:5-12
10/18 Nehemiah 13:15 Nehemiah 1:4-11a
10/25 Psalm 89:14 Job 38:1-11
11/1 Isaiah 14:1 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
11/8 Jeremiah 33:23 Isaiah 25:6-9
11/15 Daniel 9:1 Ezekiel 2:1-5
11/22 Matthew 26:57 Micah 6:1-8
11/29 Acts 6:8 John 20:19-31
12/6 Hebrews 1:1 Romans 5:1-11