Sunday Message for 19 August 2018: “Wise Life”

Today the focus on the great King Solomon, an iconic figure whose legendary wisdom continues to inspire truth-seekers. We’ll learn about Solomon in 1 Kings, a Hebrew scripture treasure-trove of sacred history.

Even outside the church there is widespread name recognition of King Solomon, who ascended to the throne after his famously flawed father King David. Like everyone else who ruled Israel, Solomon was morally deficient. One of his failings singled-out in today’s passage is Solomon’s sacrificing of animals at the high places, a reference to forbidden, Canaanite religious sites. The Canaanites were the dominant cultural force in Solomon’s contemporary Palestine. Beyond Solomon, many Jewish people performed rituals to gods other than the Jewish God Yahweh. Not surprising then that Solomon went to the principle high place at Gibeon where he is said to have butchered 1000 innocent animals.

Solomon’s participation in forbidden Canaanite religion might have sealed his fate had it not been for his reversal. Recall that David had committed adultery and murder and God remarkably referred to David as a man after his own heart. This is possible through God’s transformative redemption. God wants people to confess and admit when they are wrong. Jesus also taught that people in authority will be held to a higher standard. What distinguishes David and Solomon from other flawed rulers is that this father-son pair admitted their wrongdoings rather than denying, deflecting, and doubling-down on their evil. Many modern politicians have self-consciously rejected this lesson, risking severe consequences.

God’s teachings emphasize that condemnation is the penalty for those who try to conceal their guilt by lying or by denigrating their accusers. History confirms that authoritarian rulers who refuse responsibility for their bad decisions will experience a catastrophic end on the day of reckoning. Solomon’s confession meant that he accepted forgiveness and that God continued to bless him despite Solomon’s previous failings. Seek God with all your heart and the life of wonderful fulfillment you’ll discover will surpass any king’s reign.

While Solomon was at Gibeon God visited him in a dream and invited him to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon responded by asking for wisdom. This pleased God so much that God also gave Solomon what he didn’t ask for, including long life, riches, and victories over enemies. No Canaanite deity could have done better for Solomon. The crucial condition for Solomon was that he be righteous. “If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statues and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life” (1 Kings 3:14). Would you be willing to strike this same deal with God? Thankfully, it’s not just ancient kings who can experience transformation. As a child of the Almighty you are invited to receive the same redemption. As with Solomon, if you honor God with your priorities you can claim marvelous blessings.

In this era of cultural wars where even facts don’t seem to matter to some people, God’s faithful remnant need empowerment to fight the descending darkness. Whether we talk about an ancient king like Solomon or a modern person like you or me, wisdom is crucial for superior discernment and mind management. Wisdom exposes with its light the false gods of fear, ignorance and anger. Wisdom is using knowledge in a manner that maximizes truth and love. God created our brains to help us survive and thrive. This is how our attitude and how we think promotes a life of wellbeing where we are healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Psychology and the science of mind attest to the crucial role that your mind plays in health and vitality. How you think determines how you act and how good you feel. When your thinking is distorted then it taints other areas of life and an entire nation can be ruined when enough people make a bad choice. Have you asked God for wisdom? Have you attempted to develop a stronger mind and to learn how to make decisions based on facts, reality, and the best available evidence? Can you resist the temptation to be seduced by your raw impulses? If you will seek God then like Solomon you will discover an amazing, redemptive Spirit.

Many people mistakenly believe that the Bible condemns thinking and reasoning. Not at all! If this were true then Solomon would not be a positive role model. Your mental fitness combines with your spiritual and physical health to create a life of holistic wellbeing. Jesus didn’t try to diminish peoples’ minds but he did denounce the excuses people blather for deliberately making bad choices. It’s clearer than ever that faulty thinking threatens democratic ideals and a nation’s morality. It’s also interesting to note that intellect and faith co-exist and can often correct each another; ego-driven pride corrupts both facts and faith.

Your challenge involves growing a healthy, strong mind despite the many challenges you face. As you embrace love, God’s Holy Spirit will advance your life with greater splendor than King Solomon’s mighty Jerusalem temple. Own your mistakes, admit when you’re wrong, and like ancient kings you’ll rule the kingdom of your life with inspiring integrity.

–Reverend Hoxey