Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Seek the Lord, and His strength; seek His face evermore.”
Psalm 105: 4
“O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee,
From sin be daily freed.
Make this poor self grow less and less,
Be Thou my life and aim;
Oh, make me daily, through Thy grace,
More worthy of Thy name.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart…and Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, who he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be sycamore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.”
1 Kings 1: 24, 25, 27
“And the Lord said to Solomon…’Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like…And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance.”
II Chronicles 1: 11, 12 15
“A World of Wealth and Wisdom”
“The use of riches is better than their possession.”
Fernando de Rojas
If I had been in Solomon’s sandals, how do I think I would have used the abundant wealth and wisdom that had been bestowed on me?
“He (she) who provides for this life, but takes no care for eternity, is wise for a moment, but a fool forever.”
“Gold can no more fill the spirit of a man (woman), than grace his (her) purse. A man (woman) may as well fill a bag with wisdom, as the soul with the world.”
Over the last few days, I took time to read through the books of 1 Kings and II Chronicles in Scripture. This is because I find there to be a deep revelation of God at work when we read the Bible with continuity, for a clearer understanding not only develops, but we get a broader picture of how God is at work, throughout the time span of human history.
As I devoured these two books, filled with long lists of names, detailed measurements, and statistics regarding the possessions of Solomon, I came away with the overwhelming sense that for the forty years that Solomon ruled Israel, not only was Israel at peace, but Israel was prosperous.
We begin to better understand the fact that Israel flourished under Solomon’s leadership, when we read a passage like II chronicles 1: 15, one of today’s texts, where we’re told that the silver and gold in Israel was so plentiful, that it was as common as regular stones. Now that’s rich! But there’s more. A few chapters over, in II Chronicles 8, there’s a record of the fact that Solomon built, “Tadmor in wilderness, and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath. Also he built Bethhoron the upper, and Bethhoron the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars; and Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had.” (II Chronicles 8: 3-6, K.J.V.). Biblical scholars tell us that these “store” cities, which Solomon built and fortified, served, most likely, not only as outposts where the soldiers stayed, but also as supply depositories – keeping chariots, armour, and horses, needed in case of war. There had to be a place for all the “stuff” Solomon collected, and so why not build a few cities as your “storage sheds.”
The fact is, that with such plenty abounding throughout Israel, 1 Kings 9: 22 states that none of the children of Israel were “bondsmen” to Solomon, or as the Hebrew translates, “servants.” Instead, the men were soldiers, princes, captains, rulers and horsemen. These are the words the Bible uses to describe the job titles of the men of Israel. And in case you wonder about what the women were doing, Solomon gives us the details in Proverbs 31 where he tells us about dedicated wives and mothers who were also skilled artisans, using their hands weaving tapestry and designing and constructing silk and purple for clothing. We also find that the women were involved in charitable community endeavors, providing a helping hand whenever and wherever needed. But there’s more, for the women were respected chefs. The fact is, the Israelite women, during Solomon’s reign, could have taught the “pros” on the Food Network, a few things. These women were specialists in what I like to call, “from the earth to the family table,” type of natural food preparation. They gathered, stored, prepared, cooked and placed their creations on the household table. Make no mistake, the women at this time, in Solomon’s kingdom, had a significant role in the development and cultivation of a society that became admired all through the world.
This is why I entitled our devotional today, “A World of Wealth and Wisdom.” All around the world, the Israelites were held up in esteem as a nation. Tomorrow, we’ll find out just how respected they were when we meet the Queen of Sheba who decided to come to town and see for herself why there was so much fanfare about Solomon.
But least we forget, with such blessings, comes responsibility. Unto whom much is given, much is required. And with the abundance of prosperity, the praise belonged to “One” person alone.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses gathered all the children of Israel together. One of his intentions, in his “sermon,” was to give them a fatherly warning against forgetting God’s mercies. He began by reminding his listeners about the rewards of obedience. Then he gently reinforced the fact that, “thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments.” Then Moses continued with a few recollections of his own about their forty-year journey from Egypt to Canaan:
1. Your food never ran out. God fed you with manna.
2. Your clothes never got old or worn out.
3. Your feet never swelled – all forty years! (WOW! I love this one!)
4. You were brought by God to a good land, a land with water, unlike the dry wilderness. A land with brooks and fountains and springs that came up out of the valleys as well as down from the hills.
5. You were brought to a fertile land. A land where you can grow wheat, barley and vines. Where you can plant fig, pomegranate, and olive trees. A land flowing with milk and honey.
6. You were brought to a land with no scarcity, no lack, a full land.
After delineating the “plenty-ness” that was bequeathed to God’s children, Moses issued these words of caution found in Deuteronomy 8: 17, 18, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me,’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
Whenever I hear some business titan bragging about building an empire “all by myself” or some individual who is lauding their personal success by gloating that they “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps,” I think about Moses, whose words stand in stark contrast as a time-proven beacon of light to each of us down through history. No matter what God has blessed you and me with, whether a little or a lot, ALL that we have has been given to us by “One” whose bounty is unlimited. And what we have is not the results of our own wisdom and wealth-management, it is instead a cherished gift to be used to bring glory to the name of the King of the Universe. For Solomon, during the first half of his rulership of Israel, bringing glory to God was not only a fulfillment of the promise of his life, it was also his top priority as well as his life’s passion. How sad the same can’t be said about the last half of his rulership in Israel.
“O Lord our God,
give us by Your Holy Spirit a willing heart and a ready hand to use all Your gifts to Your praise and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Lord God of earth and heaven, You know better than we that plenty can be as great a spiritual burden as poverty. Forgive us…who have so many blessings, for taking them so much for granted…for thinking that they are ours to do with as we please…for squandering so many of them in such irresponsible and irretrievable ways.
Remind us that Your Word is more precious by far than the things we treasure…more powerful by far than the people and policies we trust…more promising by far than the schemes we try for gaining the world while giving up our souls.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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