As we continue through Luke’s gospel we finish up chapter 9 and move into chapter ten. Here is the written copy: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.
Here is the sermon for the The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is: 1 KINGS 3:5-12. The sermon theme is: Do you want to be like Solomon? Here is the Written Sermon. .
Do You Want To Be Like Solomon?
Be careful what you ask for. Maybe you have heard those words before. And if you have, you also know what the second half of that statement is. Be careful what you ask for, for you just might get it. And of the point of the proverb is really simple, isn’t it? We, as human beings are sinful. And sinful humans have this overwhelming ability to ask for stupid things. And not only can we ask for sinful, stupid things. But there are also times in our lives when we might not have been as mature or as stable as we are now. And so, what if the Lord came to and said, “Ask! What should I give to you?” At first, we might think that this is a wonderful opportunity. But then we might realize that we might just mess it up. And yet, that’s exactly what the Lord does in the words we look at this morning. The Lord goes to this young king Solomon, when he is a teenager. And then he says those same, exact words. In 1 Kings 3:5, we read: “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”” (1 Kings 3:5 NIV)
Now, before we read on-before we hear what Solomon actually asked and prayed for, realize what a ticking time-bomb this invitation was. There were so very many ways it could go bad from here. Will Solomon ask for something good or will he ask for something bad? And so, this is what Solomon says in response to the Lord’s invitation: “Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.” (1 Kings 3:6 NIV)
Already, as Solomon begins his prayer we see that his prayer is different than so many of the prayers that believers have offered up to their Lord. The First part of his prayer is a reminder. Solomon reminds the Lord that he is gracious and how has shown kindness and undeserved love toward his father. Then, what does he do? “7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 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?”” (1 Kings 3:7-9 NIV)
After Solomon praises the Lord because of his gracious kindness. Then he confesses those amazing words. “Who is able” He says. He admits his own weakness. How can a sinful man govern so many people? So finally then he asks for wisdom to rule them.
By brothers and sisters in Christ, wouldn’t you like to be like Solomon? Wouldn’t you like to be like Solomon and know what true wisdom is and have it? The irony, my dear friends, is that what you yearn for, you already have. If you want to know what true wisdom is, all you have to do is look at these words and you will see that you already have it. True wisdom is knowing two amazing truths. First, wisdom is knowing that God is gracious. That is the first thought that Solomon mentions. The one God, the only true God is the God that is gracious. He gives people what they don’t deserve. He forgives sinners in Christ. He allows sinners to serve him in his grace. And Second, wisdom is being able to say those words with Solomon, “who is able.” Wisdom is confessing that because of our sin we are completely unable to do what we need to save ourselves from our sins and even provide for our daily lives.
And this wisdom of seeing God’s grace and our own inability is just the opposite of how the world looks at wisdom. The sinful world both hates the fact that God gives out forgiveness for free and also thinks that it is capable of doing it all. And every generation that follows the wisdom of the world shows its stupidity. As a nation we just observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Do you know what they used to call WWI? After WWI they used to call it the “Great War.” They used to call it the “War to end all wars.” They called it that until the next world war came along. There is this arrogance out there in the world and in our own sinful hearts that hates the free gifts that God gives and pretends that we can do everything by ourselves. But true wisdom, the wisdom that we have and the wisdom that Solomon shows says the opposite. It prays to the Lord saying, “you alone are gracious and I can do nothing alone.”
And so, if we ask that question, “do you want to be like Solomon?” In a very real way, the answer is that we are already like Solomon. Through those waters of baptism we have faith and through it the wisdom to confess God’s gracious ability and our inability. But there’s more to these words. We are like Solomon in that we know wisdom. But is there another way that we would like to be like Solomon? The last few verses of this section of scripture read: “10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 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, 12 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.” (1 Kings 3:10-12 NIV)
So let me ask you again, “Do you want to be like Solomon?” With great sadness, the answer God’s word gives to us is “no!” We do not want to be like Solomon. For, with such sadness we read in the bible how the Lord commanded the kings of Israel not to go to Egypt to get horses from Egypt. But Solomon got more than 3000 horses from Egypt. The Lord commanded the kings to not have too many wives. Solomon had 1000 greater and lesser wives.
So do you want to be like Solomon? The answer, “no” should leap from your heart. For wisdom isn’t just knowing what wisdom is, it’s growing in what it is. Wisdom isn’t just knowing what is right, it’s doing it. If you would like to see the rest of Solomon’s life, then read the book, Ecclesiastes. There we find a man who followed the wisdom of the world, and then, in his later years found wisdom in the Lord.
So, if growing in wisdom is just as important as important as knowing what it is, then what does growing in wisdom look like? Growing in wisdom is first repenting of sin. Look at Solomon. The problem he faced was that instead of repenting of his many wives and many horses he kept them. So too, repentance can’t be an action that only other people take. We repent. Otherwise we will be in hell.
So growing in wisdom is first repenting. But then growing in wisdom is reading. It’s sitting down at home with our bibles and reading them. It’s sitting down here with your pastor and reading it here. For true Godly wisdom only comes from God’s word. And through that word God gives us the ability not only to know what wisdom is, but to grow in it.
But, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this growth is easy to miss. It’s easy to overlook. Because so often the wisdom that we grow in is simply the absence of pain and misery. So what does this growth look like? We see it in Marriage. It’s the simple wisdom of a man and woman who promise to be faithful to each other as long as they have life and breath. And while other marriages fall apart, theirs doesn’t because that Christian couple grew in wisdom. They repented and read. We see it when it comes to Money. The people out there in the world complain about the government and how it’s taking all their money with taxes. And yet, there you are, praying for the government and paying your taxes because the government is God’s servant.
And so, where God’s word is, there is also growth in wisdom. And yet, even here we see our failure, don’t we? I remember our dear sister in the faith, Esther Campana. I remember her walking through the class to join our church. And when the undeserved love that Jesus had for her sunk into her heart and soul, instead of laughing with joy, she cried in pain. Why? She cried in pain because, like Solomon, for decades God’s word wasn’t the priority in her life. And with brutal honesty she said, “I’m a failure.” All of us-absolutely all of us have to say the same words. For all of us have sinned when it comes to marriage, money and maturity-all of us. And if you are a failure then all that much more you have the privilege of seeing what true wisdom is. If you are a failure as I am then go to God’s word. And there you will find a Savior who forgives. He washes those sins away in baptism. He says this forgiveness is “for you” in the Lord’s Supper.
And so, let us end where we began, do you want to be like Solomon? You are already like Solomon aren’t you? You already know God’s grace and your own inability. And let us be like Solomon in his later years, repenting of our sin and reading God’s word. Amen.
Image courtesy ofStock Xchnge.