1 Kings 5

1 Kings 5 is about the contract that Solomon makes with the King of Tyre to secure lumber and labor in building the Temple. A few things jump out here.

1. Solomons intrest in building the temple seems to come from a genuine desire to worship God. At this point in his life, Solomon is seeking the Lord.

2. The negotiations with the King of Tyre proves that Solomon’s wisdom extends into the area of political influence as well.

3. Solomon divides up his workforce to be able to work in Tyre one month and tend their own fields 2 months. This is an amazing strategy that allows Solomons workers to take care of their own, while still providing the neccesary labor for the temple.

This strategy was so effective that centuries later the Christian King Alfred the Great would borrow on this tactic when trying to raise a standing army to fend off the Vikings. Thus allowing his men to care for their families, while maintaining a standing army prepared to fight at a moments notice. Though Solomons plan was practiced surfing an erra of peace, the solid principles worked dieting Alfred’s time to keep Britan free from Viking rule.

Application: Solomon is seeking to build the Temple fir the right reasons. Often we can get caught up in the disractions and fail to truly worship God. We become consumed with showing up at church or saying and doing the right things that we can forget why we are gathered together.

1 Kings 3

Chapter 3 begins with Solomon’s marriage to Pharoh’s daughter. This is most likely to strengthen ties between the two countries and encourage trade across the known world.

Solomon will later get into trouble later for marrying foreign wives. But a distiction mist be made here. Israelites were only forbiden to marry women from the land of Canaan (Exodus 34:16, Deuteronomy 7:3). They were free to marry foreign women given that the women would renounce the gods of their nation and worship God alone (this is the case with Rahab and Ruth who are both foreign women who married Israelites and are the direct ancestors of Solomon). Later when Solomon is married to women who do lead him towards idol worship, there is a distinction made between the Pharoh’s daughter and the other women (1 Kings 11:1-2).

At this point Solomon is honoring the pact he made with his father and seeking the blessing of God. He offers sacrifices and has a dream where God offers Him basically anything. Solomon humbly asks for wisdom. The great thing about asking for wisdom is that true wisdom ultimately comes from walking with God.

God answers Solomon’s request and gives him riches, fame, and peace as well. This is kind of similar to what Jesus said in the New Testament, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Solomon is off to a good start. His wisdom is confirmed as he arbitrates matters between two women.

Application: are you seeking God? Sometimes we are tempted to ask, beg and plead for small and temporary things. We imagine we have life figured out if we can just get that promotion, more money, etc. Stop and take time to really meet with God today. It’s okay to mention that you have needs, but seek to know Him. Ask Him what you really need.

What are your thoughts on chapter 3?

Diversify your Investments and Give Generously (Ecclesiastes 11)

Ecclesiastes 11

Solomon tells us to cast our bread upon the water.  He is not stating that we should literally go throw bread out at the lake, but rather this is probably a shipping term.  In Solomon’s day comerce would take grain and goods from one country to anther via the shipping lanes (on the water).  Yet, they didn’t have weather tracking systems and sometimes ships would go to sea never to be heard from again.  But, often ships would make it to port.  Sell the grain and goods and bring home a hefty profit.  Solomon says it is better to go ahead and invest in many places than place all your eggs in one basket (so to speak).  You don’t know where the hurricane will strike, the oil leak will emerge, or the demand for 8-tracks will hit rock bottom.  However, one thing is sure.  If you stare at the sky and try to calculate the weather and never invest, you won’t receive a profit (11:4).  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  So invest in lots of places and spread out the risk.

I think the application here is for more than how you are going to manage your retirement portfolio.  Sometimes we can be paralised by the obstacles ahead of us.  Your sitting there staring at the sky looking for the right conditions.  You don’t know the future.  The only way to live life is to take some calculated risk.  Things will not always work out according to your plan.  Better to attempt something great rather than use the excuse that you were just waiting for the right moment and it never came.

Make investments where it really counts. Be generous in your relationships.  Give to others.  Be a good friend, a good spouse, a good parent, open your home to others, show grace, forgive, look for opportunities to share Jesus.  Don’t be disappointed if you are not immediately met with success in these areas of your life.  Cast your bread on the water.  Live soberly knowing that one day we will all give an account to God (Ecclesiastes11:9).

Real Failure Comes From a Lack of Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 10)

Chapter 10 is much like Solomon’s speech to the graduating class.  Its a reminder that God is sovereign, people should be humble, and that apart from God’s wisdom you will make a mess of your life.

I know a man who lived well and for a majority of his life he trusted God.  Yet near the end he became a fool and made some bad decisions.  We are all only one bad decision away from ruining it all.  It’s not how you start the race its how it ends that matters. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

Sometimes we meet resistance in life just because we are foolish.  There is story I once heard of a young man who wanted to be a lumberjack.  He was younger and more athletic than the other lumberjacks in his crew.  He showed up to the forest the first day and made the claim that he could chop down more trees than anyone else on the crew by the end of the week.  So they went to work and sure enough the young and athletic lumberjack was leading the way and cutting down trees almost twice as fast as the rest of the crew.  Eager to make his mark on the lumberjack world he worked through his lunches and while the other guys took a break. Somewhere around mid-week things began to slow and the young and athletic lumberjack was cutting fewer and fewer trees.  Finally by the end of the week he had cut the least amount of trees and the foreman had to let him go.  On his way out of the camp he went up to one of the older men who had been cutting down trees for years.  He said, “I don’t get it.  I am stronger and faster than anyone out here.  I never took breaks.  I worked through lunch.  How did you cut down more trees than me?”  The older lumber jack simply replied, “I took time to sharpen my axe.”  Sometimes it’s not about how hard you swing or how fast you are.  Sometimes as the old business proverb goes, “Work smarter, not harder.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

Application:   Where do you need wisdom in your life? There are decisions that you need to make in your life right now.  Some of them are somewhat small and inconsequential (like what will you eat for lunch).  Others of them really  matter.  Like what kind of husband, father, son,  or leader will you be.

Do the right thing, even when no one else cares (Ecclesiastes 8)

Solomon offers us some great perspective in the first few verses of chapter 8. Sometimes people want to blame God for all the evil and injustice in the world. Yet, if we are observant we will notice that mankind is the one responsible for much of the injustice in the world.

But we shouldn’t be deceived. God will not let evil go unchecked forever (maybe it’s a good thing that we die). Ultimately there will be justice. God will bring Justice.

Wisdom isn’t knowing why God commands a certain thing, it’s obeying God’s commands even if you don’t know the “why” or “how.” You cannot know all of Gods ways, but you can know what he requires of you.

Application: trust God. He always does the right thing and while He may lead you down an unpopular path or at least beyond your comfort zone, it’s better to follow Him than to be popular or comefortable. Though we cannot know all of Gods ways we can trust God to lead us rightly.

Grasping for Air

Wow this chapter is really depressing. I’d like to see Joel Olsteen preach on this one. I was in a good mood until Solomon reminded me that nothing changes (1:10), Generations come and go (1:4), and work is pointless (1:3).

I get it. I cut the grass last week and now I have to do it again. I help pick up toys I never play with. I wash my clothes only to find them dirty and in need of washing again. I eat a meal only to realize I’m hungry again and need another meal. Taken like this it is easy to understand that the meaning of life cannot be found in the simple mundane facts of out existence. The truth is I’m not the first person to exist and if the Lord should tarry I won’t be among the last.

So what’s the point?

That’s it exactly! That is the question that Solomon is asking. Why are we here? What is our purpose? How should we live our lives in order to live them to the fullest (all 3 the same question asked in different ways)

Application: grasping for air… what are you living for? Some things in life we must do to live, but they are not our purpose. A friend of mine used to always say, “do you live to eat? Or eat to live?” I’m a big guy and the point was obvious.

If we are not careful we can mistake the gifts of life for our purpose.

What are your thoughts on Ecclesiastes 1?