November 3, 2015

Being wise does not insure the heart

1 Kings 3:1–4:34, Mark 3:1–3:35, Proverbs 1:13–19, Proverbs 4:23

I once thought a high IQ would help a person obey God, but have learned that human wisdom doesn’t even come close to the grace and wisdom of God.

King David’s son Solomon had a dream in which God offered to give him whatever he wanted. Solomon asked for “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil . . . .” a request that greatly pleased the Lord.

He said, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 Kings 3:9–14)

The Bible says Solomon had “wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore.” His wisdom “surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt . . . . His fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005 . . . . And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.” (1 Kings 4:29–34)

Prior to this dream, “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.” (1 Kings 3:1-3)

As the rest of his life shows, Solomon loved God, was wise, yet he had a divided heart. He married many wives and worshiped their gods. At the same time, he wrote this advice to others:

“If sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason’  . . . . Do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood . . . . They set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.” (Proverbs 1:10–11, 15–19)

Solomon avoided the wars and violence of his father’s generation, but he lived in spiritually enslaving sin. He exemplified Jesus’ words, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:24–25) People with conflicting desires in their hearts cannot stand either.

Today’s devotional reading points to forbidden alliances and desires and their long-term effects. It also stresses the reality that satisfying one’s own greed will always ruin something far more important, even the lives of others. Those desires begin in the sinfulness of the human heart, but if given any consideration, they will do to my life what Solomon’s double-mindedness did to his. It didn’t matter that he was wise and blessed by God, because those blessings did not keep him from disobedience and disgrace.

This man learned the hard way the truth of another of his own proverbs: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

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