On Sunday we journeyed though 1st Kings chapters 9-10, seeing Israel under the reign of king Solomon rise to its most prominent position among the nations to date. But as in the words of Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”,
for ultimately the great wealth and security amassed by Solomon, together with his foreign wives, drew his heart away from God. The net spiritual loss far exceeding any material gain. In today’s super-fast paced world, so many (even Christians) are investing all they have building ‘castles in the sand’; yet the tide of time is coming in. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).
Chapter 9 opens “…the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time” (1 Kings 9:2). God gave him a choice: If you obey, continued blessing; but if you disobey, all of this blessing will be taken away.
As Christians we sometimes seem to have the notion that ‘nothing can touch us’; that is, we can live as we choose and because of the Cross we are exempt from the ‘rod of correction’ from God. The New Testament however makes it clear that God holds us accountable for the way we live our lives, and we also are given a choice: “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8). God declared to Solomon that he would even go as far as allowing this magnificent temple that had just been finished (and which became one o the wonders of the ancient world) to be destroyed. God is not interested in the building, but the heart. In the New Testament Paul warns us: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). This is not a warning to unbelievers, but to believers, and is a reminder that we are to ‘be holy for He is holy’ (1 Peter 1:16).
Another interesting point we noted is the tendency we all have to jump in and do ‘something’ because we think God is taking too long to act! There is a good lesson highlighting the danger of this in 1 Samuel 13:8-14. And remember also Sarah’s advice to Abraham in Genesis 16-17 that resulted in Ishmael and his descendants being a perpetual thorn in Israel’s side. Jumping the gun rather than waiting for God will only cause us pain in the long run! However, Solomon needing to finance the work of building the Temple, invested time in crafting a deal with Hiram (the king of Tyre) where, in exchange for 20 cities around Galilee, he would be loaned 120 Talents of gold (equivalent to over 40 toms!). The Law stated that “The Land shall not be sold for ever” (Leviticus 25:23); and although these cities were eventually returned to Israel when the loan was paid off (see 2 Chronicles 8:2), even up to the time of Jesus this area was known as ‘the Galilee of the Gentiles’ (Matthew 4:15). How much of Solomon’s time became invested in this? If only he had given that time to the LORD, just to sit and rest in His presence, how wonderful it would have been when the Queen of Sheba arrived on his doorstep with that exact amount – and as a gift that did not need to be paid back! Investing time with God will never leave you short in the other areas of your life (Matthew 6:33).
In chapter 10 we see the famous visit of the Queen of Sheba who had heard of the great wealth and wisdom of Solomon ‘concerning the name of the LORD’, so she had come to ‘try him with hard questions’. When the world hears of the great wealth and wisdom we have in Christ, they too will try to tip us up with hard questions, but just like the Queen of Sheba, whatever they have heard about Christ before, nothing can compare to the overwhelming experience when someone comes to the end of them self (“there was no more spirit in her” – 1 Kings 10:5), and finds Jesus, the great King of kings, for themselves: “Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice”.
If you don’t already know Jesus Christ, the King of kings, the good news is that you don’t have to travel as far as the Queen of Sheba! Nor do you have to bring costly gifts to earn His favour, for He already knows you better than you know yourself. He offers you a royal pardon from all your sin, so if you simply repent and put your trust in Him you’ll receive the gift of eternal life, which is greater than any treasure the world has known!