Seek His Kingdom
First Kings brings us to a parade of kings that will rule Israel in the line of king David, for better or worse, according to the promise God made with David in 2 Samuel 7. The first of those kings is David's son Solomon. What thoughts come to mind when you reflect on King Solomon? Perhaps you remember Solomon's commission to build the temple as ordained by God, with all its elaborate workmanship and extravagant designs and decor. Or maybe you think of Solomon's association with the poetry scripture of Song of Solomon and the Proverbs. Or one that stands out to me is Solomon's prayer of dedication when the ark was first brought to the temple:
"O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or earth below – you keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way." 1 Kings 8:23
And how interesting is it that Solomon would continue that prayer over the temple, a building that is a habitation constructed for the very purpose of establishing God's dwelling place, by declaring in prayer:
"But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!" 1 Kings 8:27
This really hits home given our recent experiences of virtual worship and fellowship. Indeed, God was not contained by the temple, not by a tomb, much less by a building on Whitesburg drive or a particular hour of worship; indeed, the earth and even the heavens cannot contain Him!
Or maybe, if you have read the rest of the story, you noted the demise of Solomon for turning to other gods and how he presided over the beginning of a divided nation of Israel.
But perhaps the most common characteristic that comes to mind about Solomon is his wisdom and riches. Solomon did not obtain these gifts by accident. When Solomon first takes the throne of Israel, and is still establishing his rule, God appears to him in a dream and tells him to "ask for whatever you want me to give you."(3:5) And somewhat surprisingly for a young king, Solomon recognizes the burden of the task before him and responds out of reverence to God and the kindness shown to David his father, by humbly asking for a "discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong." (3:9)
And God does not disappoint. In fact, as God does time and again, He provides more than could be hoped or imagined.
'So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."' 1 Kings 3:11-14
Somehow, Solomon understood the magnitude of following in his dad's footsteps, and moreover, recognized his need for help to govern this great people. And by aligning his priorities with God's kingdom of Israel, he is blessed with an understanding mind to govern God's people, a Godly discernment of right from wrong, and a discernment to administer justice. What a blessing Solomon was to his people. It reminds me to pray for our current leaders and authorities to be blessed with a measure of Solomon's wisdom and discernment.
"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried." Luke 12:27-28
Jesus says the lilies of the field and the birds of the air are provisioned more than Solomon. How much more will he provide for us when we humbly seek his kingdom! But make no mistake, Jesus is referring to a radically different kingdom than Solomon was governing. Jesus brings an upside-down kingdom made for the least of these, where the last shall be first, and enemies are loved. But it's the true kingdom and it's where we can release the cares of this world and be arrayed in peace and contentment.
Solomon sought wisdom for the sake of God's kingdom, over wealth & riches, and God arrayed him with all the above. And maybe our challenge is similar, to seek God's kingdom as it was designed, and trust the provisions of Jesus. Oh, how we are arrayed!