1 Kings 2: What is a "Real Man"? Leadership and Masculinity

The Truth About Men:

“God’s purpose and plan for masculinity”


Solomon was called upon by his dying father to “show himself a man”. What does that mean? Is masculinity a cultural value? Can we determine what God wanted men to essentially be like? Solomon discovered what a man WAS and WAS NOT by comparing what God called on him to do with the men in his life.

In 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley walked out of prison for the last time. They both were condemned to be burned at the stake for refusing to recant their personal faith in Jesus Christ. As they approached the stake, Latimer uttered these unforgettable words to his good friend: “Be of good cheer, Ridley. Show yourself a man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace…as I trust shall never be put out.” Where did Hugh Latimer learn such a phrase as “show yourself a man?”

He learned it from the lips of an ancient king named David. David was approaching death and wanted to speak to his son Solomon.  Solomon learned to be what God wanted for a man, when he stood for God’s program and learned the role of a godly man (2:2 “show yourself a man”). When he did, he secured the kingdom God put in his hands.

Key Principle: When a man understands and acts in his God-given role, he secures those placed in his care.

Solomon had to learn what a man was to be a king over men. He had to learn what a godly man was to bring the blessing of God to his family and his kingdom.

What did David mean when he told his son to “show yourself a man?” (1 Kings 2:2). Turn with me to the book of Genesis. God originally gave man what some call the “Four Roles of Manhood “. In the beginning, God created. That is the nature of our God. His creativity is astounding: galaxies and giraffes, atoms and aardvarks, mountains and molecules all show the genius of our creator God.

I read something this week entitled 50 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be a Man.I won’t read all of them but I did put together my own top-10 list:

10 You know stuff about tanks.
9 You can go to the bathroom without a support group.
8 If someone forgets to invite you to something he can still be your friend.
7 You can drop by to see a friend without bringing a little gift.
6 If another guy shows up at the same party in the same outfit, you might become lifelong buddies.
5 One wallet, one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.
4 There is always a game on somewhere.
3 Your pals can be trusted never to trap you with, “So…notice anything different?”
2 If something mechanical doesn’t work, you can bash it with a hammer and throw it across the room.
1 You can do your nails with a pocketknife.

Turn to Genesis 2. We read of God creating something completely different and new: …the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7). God created a man, in His own image and he became a living being. Masculinity is not a culturally defined term. God created men for a purpose. What are these purposes? What are the specific reasons and roles God created the man?

  1. Skip down to verse 15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15). The man was created to “take dominion” as chapter 1 verse 28 reads in the New King James version. Adam was to be the administrator of the Garden. The same is true today. Inside every man of God beats the heart of a leader. They want to explore, and they want others to respect that they can.
  1. “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Genesis 2:16-17). The man was not only called to steward the land’s resources but also to steward information. Remember, Eve had not been formed yet. It is as if God were telling Adam, “I’m going to tell you this and I want you to pass it on, to teach it to others.” Inside of every godly man beats the heart of a mentor. Godly men don’t just want to get there, they want to get OTHERS there!
  1. Verse 17 concludes with this ominous warning: “…or when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:17b). Adam was clearly warned of potential danger. It was his role to be alert, to be on guard, to stand watch over himself and his family. Inside every godly man beats the heart of a guardian. This impulse leads men to war in defense of their homes and families.
  1. Verse 18 introduces a new character into this cosmic drama: “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18). Adam was given Eve to satisfy his deep longing for companionship. In more general sense, men were created to be in community. Inside every godly man beats the heart of a companion. What fun is it conquering the world if SHE doesn’t notice?

Something went wrong in the Garden though. After Eve ate the apple, God asked this question of Adam: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8). God was not confused about Adam’s geographical location. The question was more of “Where were you?”

• Where was your influence as a leader when Eve and the serpent were chatting under the tree?

• Where was the guardian I created to protect and keep watch over her?

• Where did the mentoring process breakdown?

• Where was the faithful companion when Eve needed you most?

Adam failed, the human race fell, and men have been frustrated every since. The four callings of God into a man’s heart are that of Leader, Guardian, Mentor, and Companion. This is how God defines real manhood. Solomon was to face David’s death by adopting the essence of David’s life – a walk with God living the purposes of God!

Adonijah: The Poor Leader (1 Kings 2:13-25)

  1. Poor leaders leave people guessing whether they are safe to be with or not (2:13-14).
  2. Poor leaders confuse the standard of truth (what the world thinks versus what God says – 2:15).
  3. Poor leaders hide behind others and lead others into wickedness (2:16-21).
  4. Poor leaders force God’s leaders to defend what God has said and done (2:22-25).

Abiathar: The Poor Mentor (1 Kings 2:26-27)

Remember his story: He was at Nob when David came and ate of the bread of the Tabernacle (1 Samuel 21). He fled when Doeg the Edomite came in the name of King Saul and killed all the priestly families (including his!). David took him in (1 Sam. 22). He brought the Ephod when he came (1 Samuel 23). He went on to serve as a priest in David’s administration and did reconnaissance for David when Absalom sat for awhile on David’s throne (2 Samuel 15). When David lay dying, Abiathar foolishly sided with Adonijah.

  1. Bad mentors most often come from bad mentors. Solomon knew that a bad mentor had existed in his family generations ago (1 Kings 2:26-27; The house of Eli, see 1 Samuel 2:30-35).
  2. Bad mentors must be stopped from destroying the future. (2:27) Solomon knew that a bad mentor would keep infecting the priesthood, and dismissed him to his home in Anathoth to work a field. He LOST the WORK OF A LEVITE and was demoted to a land farmer. (Levites had no land).

Joab: The guardian who defended the wrong things! (1 Kings 2:28-35).

When Solomon came to the throne Adonijah was afraid for his life, and fled to the horns of the altar at the tabernacle for shelter. Solomon permitted him to find sanctuary there, and forgave him his offence, and said that if he proved himself a worthy man he should live without further molestation. But very soon he began plotting again, and sought to undermine Solomon now that their venerable father was dead. Solomon determined to wipe clean all of the rebellion.

Joab ran for the altar at the Tent of the Lord. Hadn’t Adonijah done this successfully before? Of course, he had no Biblical right to enter into the holy place, and lay hold on the horns of the altar; but he was desperate! (2:28)

After two premeditated murders and now a failed plot, his sin came home to him. He decided to run to the altar, though his life was not one of a fervent follower of God. There is no reference to any passion for God that we can discern, but there was a record of rebellion and murder. Solomon knew he was illegally at the altar, and ordered him executed. Benaiah tried first to get him to come out of the area (2:29), but Joan decided he would die at the altar (2:30).

Joab offers two lessons:

1) Joab found no sanctuary even though he laid hold of the horns of the altar of God’s house, because an outward show with no inner change means absolutely nothing to God.

There are man who put their trust in religious observances of different kinds. People do it all the time. Some trust in the horns of the sacraments. Men with no walk with God nor passion to have one, come to some religious sacramental communion table, looking for a blessing. Our county is filled with people who believe that a priest or pastor can dispense God in a wafer to a person who has no intention of truly surrendering to Jesus.

Spurgeon offers this insight: “Do they conceive that grace comes to men by bits of bread and drops of wine? These things are meant to put us in memory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as far as they do that, and quicken our thoughts of him, they are useful to us; but there is no wizardry or witchcraft linked with these two emblems, so they convey as form of grace. If you do rely upon such things, I can only say that this error is all of a piece: it is a superstition which begins with, “In my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven“; which statement is altogether false; and then it continues the delusion by prostituting an ordinance meant for the living child of God, and giving it to the ungodly, the ignorant, and the superstitious, as though it could make them meet for entering heaven.”

Others think that they are all right because they frequent sermons. Another says, “I attend prayer meetings.” “But I regularly read the Bible,” says one. Some are foolish enough to put their confidence in the special last rights powers of ministers. Yet, sadly, there is no hope in them. I have been a member of a church for many years.” You may be a member of a church fifty years, but you will be damned at last unless you are a heart member of the body of Christ through repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ work atCalvary to pay for sin. A heart faith, a born again experience of one that deliberately and truthfully surrenders their heart to Jesus is what is required. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He was a Pharisee and a devoutly religious man. Jesus told him “You must be born again!” Cornelius was a praying centurion that called upon God, and yet Peter came to him and told him he must surrender to Jesus to be saved.

2) Joab reminds us that there is an opportunity for us to come TO THE SPIRITUAL ALTAR, AND LAYING OUR HAND UPON the sacrifice of Jesus, HE WILL SAVE US.

Notice what Joab DID. First, Joab came to the tabernacle, the area where sin was dealt with. Then he decided to come to the altar where sin was paid for with blood. Though he entered on false pretense, YOU have the opportunity to come in truth and take hold on Christ Jesus. Place your hand of faith upon your Lord, and say, “This Jesus is mine. I accept it as the gift of God to me, though I am wholly unworthy.”

Remember, nobody ever perished trusting in Jesus. Spurgeon: “There has not been through all these centuries a single instance of a soul being cast away that came all guilty and hell-deserving, and took Christ to be its salvation. If you perish, you will then be the first that perished with his hand laid upon Christ. His love and power can never fail a sinner’s confidence. Wherefore, may God the Holy Spirit lead you to resolve, “If I must die, I will die here.”

You have heard the gospel long enough; now obey it. You have heard about Christ long enough; now trust in him. You have been invited and entreated, and pleaded with; now yield to his grace. Yield to joy and peace by trusting in him who will give you both of these as soon as you have rested in him. Look! sinner, look! A look out of thyself will save thee. Look away from all thy works, and prayers, and tears, and feelings, and church-goings, and chapel-goings, and sacraments, and ministers. Look alone to Jesus.”

Shimei: The poor companion that lost his workers (2:36-46)


  1. A poor companion can’t keep his word (2:36-38,40-46).
  2. A poor companion has people trying to get away from them (2:39).

Our ability to think and reason is similar to the way a computer functions. The computer hardware with all of its wires and circuitry is like our brain; it is the physical part. However, the computer is useless without the software. Programs must be installed to the memory of the computer in order for it to function. The software, like the mind is not physical; you can add or remove software from your computer and yet you won’t make the computer heavier or lighter.

Many in our society assume that if something is not working right inside, then it is a HARDWARE PROBLEM. Suicidal thoughts, depression, paranoia, anxiousness, fear, every mental or emotional problem – some think it MUST be caused by some chemical imbalance or some other physical problem with your brain. Take the right pill, eat the right foods, rest and exercise, reduce stress and we can cure your brain and the problem will go away. IF the problem is HARDWARE, then these things will often work. But there is more to you than just HARDWARE.

It equally may be a spiritual issue, or a SOFTWARE PROBLEM. All of us have issues that need to change in the programming within our thinking, to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You have developed certain patterns of thought that have given Satan a stronghold in your life; if Satan can control the way you think he can control your life. You don’t need a pill; you need to stop waging war as the world and use weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds by taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.

Men: we were made to be Leader, Guardian, Mentor, and Companion. This is how God defines real manhood. Solomon had to learn it. Yet, when a man understands and acts in his god-given role, he secures those placed in his care.

Men just aren’t like women: One night a wife found her husband standing over their newborn baby’s crib. Silently she watched him. As he stood looking down at the sleeping infant, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism. He would stand back, shake his head and say, “Amazing,” while smiling from ear to ear. Touched by his unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, her eyes glistened as she slipped her arms around him. “A penny for your thoughts,” she whispered in his ear. “Isn’t it amazing!” he replied. “When you take the time and really look close, how can anyone make a crib like that for only $45.99!”

1 Kings 8: The Fulfilled Life "The Secret Passion of the Intimate"

I sat next to them at a banquet. They smiled often but said little, even to each other. I tried, without being noticed, to observe the two of them together. They had the reputation of being the happiest senior couple ever! They glanced to each other, smiled, and even giggled a bit. They shared whole messages with their eyes. What a joy! I wondered about their secret. I wondered how people together for fifty or sixty years could have such a relationship. What was their secret? Last week we looked at what God said he wanted from Solomon, and noted that the obedience was just a means to a greater end – an intimate and personal relationship with him. How does someone get that? There is a secret that the text quietly passes to those who will look carefully for the “how” of the relationship.

Key Principle: When you have a vibrant private side to your walk, God will open public blessing!

The Public Side of His Life (7:51-8:21)

1. Followed through on the work God entrusted to Him (7:51a)
2. Put the treasures into God’s work in respect to His father’s wishes (7:51b).
3. Assembled the team together to complete to serve the Lord (8:1-4, 6-9)
4. Extravagant in giving (8:5)
5. Saw God’s blessing on the work (8:10-11).
6. Proclaimed God’s faithfulness (8:12-21).

The Private Side of His Life (8:22-53)

1. Unashamed: he stood before the Lord (8:22). In Matthew 10:33-34 Jesus said that the disciple that denied Him was no disciple at all, and could expect Jesus to deny the relationship later.

2. Personal in approach: Lord God of Israel, There is no God like you in Heaven or earth (8:23). Jesus began His prayer, Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be your name. Hallowed is from the word agios, or holy, which means UNLIKE ANY OTHER. Acknowledging the way God is distinct from men and all other living beings is important to Him. We must understand He is not ordinary, He is precious and alone as the God of the Universe. The angels before His throne cry out endlessly of His distinctiveness. If it is important to Him, it must be important to us. Do not say “Oh my God!” meaninglessly. Do not use His titles in explitives. He is unlike any other, and above every other. He is supreme.

It is the same as Jesus taught:

Principle #1 We are instructed to approach Him with tenderness: Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Our Father” since we are adopted into that royal family.

Principle #2 We are instructed to approach Him with reverence: “In heaven” Jesus reminds us here that we are not approaching an earthly father that is limited in his capabilities or his presence.

Principle #3 We are instructed to approach Him with respect: “Hallowed be Your name” – our Father is free from all impurities. He is totally separated from all evil. It was John MacArthur who pointed out “Praying this prayer places some demands on ourselves… it is a risky prayer:

I cannot say “our” if I’m living only for myself.
I cannot say “Father” if I don’t try to act like His child.
I cannot say “Who art in Heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say “hallowed be Thy Name” if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say “Thy Kingdom come” if I’m not doing my part to hasten that day.
I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His word.
I cannot say “in earth as it is in Heaven” if I’m unwilling to serve Him here and now.
I cannot say “give us this day our daily bread” if I’m not relying on Him to provide.
I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against someone.
I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I haven’t put on the whole armor of God.
I cannot say “Thine is the Kingdom” If I am not loyal to the King as His faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what people may do.
I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself.
I cannot say “forever” if my life is bounded completely by the things of time.”

3. Relational in approach: Keeping your covenant by showing hesed to your faithful ones (8:23). Solomon knows that God’s mercy is beyond anything that can be understood in normal human experience. His trustworthiness is unimpeachable. He gives and gives and gives the undeserving and even often the unappreciative. He blesses the unloving and cares for those that don’t even care for themselves well. He is the ultimate caregiver to His people. He recalls even the specific nature of caring for promises he made to David in the time of Solomon (8:24).

4. Intercessory in approach: Solomon knows the relationship exists, and he is not afraid to call on God to ASK OPENLY on behalf of the needs of those around him, particularly those in his care.

A) Asked God to continue to keep His promises (8:25-26) regarding the throne and succession. He recalls the Word God spoke about obedience as a prerequisite for blessing. Having obeyed, he calls on God to fulfill His Word!

B) Recognized how vast God is (8:27), yet asked God to stay very personal (8:28 30). He does not presume to house God in aTemple. He acknowledges God’s awesome greatness, but asks that God continue to show Himself as a personal God, watching over Jerusalem’s Temple night and day.

C) Asked God to stand over the nation and reveal injustice (8:31-32). Solomon knew that men in the kingdom would sin and cheat each other. He wisely called on God to pick out the righteous and uphold them. “Russian reformer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an address to Harvard University: “We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession-our spiritual life.”

D) Asked God to reconcile the confessing sinners (8:33-34). Solomon knew that his people would hide their sin as Aachen did under Joshua, and defeat would come as a result. He asked that God would regard the people’s repentance and turn His face back to them.

E) Forgive the repentant nation when they recognize the penalty (8:35-36). He knew that God would have to send hardship on the people to get their attention when they were not listening, but asked that God would turn His face back when they cried out to Him.

F) Hear the downtrodden and plague ridden (8:37-40). When war didn’t capture the attention of the people, perhaps an illness would. Solomon wanted God to open his ears to the hearts of those whotruly repented before Him. He held God to no obligation to help those who did not repent!

G) Hear the stranger that comes to you by the testimony of the nation (8:41-43). He anticipated others that were not of his nation coming to God, and thoughtfully asked to be a nation of testimony, with a promise of God to offer.

H) Hear when the nation goes to war (8:44-45). He asks God to regard the people when they are on the field of battle if they turn their face to the Temple to pray for help.

I) Hear when the nation disobeys and is taken captive, and return them home again
(8:46-52). The longest part of the prayer anticipates another eventual captivity of the people as God promised in the end of Genesis they would be in Egypt. Solomon asked God to look down the road and yet forgive for sin not yet committed. This was not to escape responsibility, but to root the people’s enduring relationship with the land and the Temple.

5. Promise oriented (Rested in the Word – 8:53). Solomon ended on the note of God’s pattern of separating His people, and His enduring promise to care for them. He ended with the phrase he began with, “O Lord God”. The only thing that makes prayer powerful is the God that hears it! “Roger Simms, hitch hiking his way home, would never forget the date–May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fifty-ish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?” Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day?” Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. “Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” “He’s dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see–I thought God had not kept His promise.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!” [J. Kirk Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, pp. 39-41. www.christianglobe.com/illustrations/prayer]

Don’t Give Up God is Working Out the Answer!

1 Kings 10: The Danger Zone

The Fulfilled Life: “The Danger Zone”

The man was clearly blind, with a cane in hand and a dog in tow. I got more and more nervous the closer he came to the edge of the cliff. He walked up to it as though he could see. Did he know how dangerous the place was? I almost couldn’t watch…but I had to see if he would stop before he got to the end of the earth and toppled downward. I was afraid and nervous as he walked up quickly, seemingly un-phased by the danger… Do you know people who are living on the edge? What does the Word teach us this life looks like? What are the danger signs we should read? Are there any safeguards we can erect to protect us from living beyond the wise place?

Key Principle: There are symptoms that we must recognize to keep ourselves from plunging downward.

Solomon had a great beginning, but that is just not enough! On a project around the house, a class in school, a job in church or in paying off some bills…. I mean we are out of that starting gate like hungry grey hounds chasing a rabbit…..But time passes and the diet ends, the exercise stops, we fail the class, the job doesn’t get done and the bills are still there. You see, though there is nothing wrong with a good start — it just isn’t enough — is it? Solomon had a great start — a good father, good advice, a good request, he performed as good project, he had a good prayer life and he wrote 3 good books….. But in the end we find the Lord becoming angry with Solomon and tearing the Kingdom from Him, Why? BECAUSE he no longer walked in the ways of the Lord…. “THESE THINGS HAPPENED TO THEM AS EXAMPLES AND WERE WRITTEN DOWN AS WARNINGS FOR US, ON WHOM THE FULFILLMENT OF THE AGES HAS COME.” (I CORINTHIANS 10:11). (Steve Malone, Southeast Christian Church, Orlando, FL)

Symptom One: Basking in Breathtaking Extravagance (The Wow Principle – 9:26-28; 10:4-5, 11-14). Breathtaking extravagance is the process of getting where no one around you has ever been (9:26-28), having what no one around you has ever had (10:4-5), building what no one around you has ever built (10:11-14) to the point that it “takes the breath away” from others (10:5b).

Problem 1. We miss the opportunity to bless the Lord in our extravagance! “I think the message in this story is “Take the BLESSING of God seriously.” Too often we brush everything off. We take it for granted that we live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. We take it for granted that we have cars to drive and food on the table and a large TV in the living room… we need to respond to God’s blessing the same way the Queen does… We need to say in the words of Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” And we need to say in the words of 1 Chronicles 29:12 “Wealth and honor come from YOU! YOU are the ruler of all things! Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name!” (Pastor Marc Axelrod, Peace Evangelical and Reformed Church, Wisconsin)

Problem 2. We forget the lessons that WANT brings to us! The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “It is not good for all your wishes to be fulfilled. Through sickness you recognize the value of health, through evil the value of good, through hunger satisfaction, through exertion the value of rest.”

Symptom Two: Allowing an Unwarranted Reputation (Big Buzz Principle- 10:1,6-7). Allowing an unwarranted reputation is settling for people telling us we deserve what we have. It is believing our own press (10:1,6-7). Solomon was well known in antiquity, and many stories survive of his wisdom: “…the Queen of Sheba that she sent two wreaths of roses to Solomon, one real and the other artificial. To test his reputed wisdom she defied him to detect the genuine from the artificial. Solomon at once directed that some bees be brought into the room. Immediately they flew to the real flowers and ignored the counterfeit.” (Pulpit Helps) Maybe it was true, but it was not deserved. Solomon got what he got because of God’s goodness. He readily admitted later that he was not living the wise way he should have been in Ecclesiastes! There are six Hebrew Wisdom books are divided between three Didactic (teaching) writings and three Devotional (reflective) collections:

Three Didactic
-Proverbs (Mishlai – tapestry of illustrations). Key Thought: The Use of wisdom in life. Key Subject: Fruits of righteousness and unrighteousness.

-Ecclesiastes (Koheleth – from kahal “assemble”; the announcer; Greek: EK is “out of” and KLESIS – “a calling”). Key Thought: Futility of experience and rationalism without revelation. Key Subject: The Way to truth.

-Job: (Job). Key Thought: The place of trials in life. Key Subject: Crucible of testing.

Three Devotional

-Psalms (Tehillim – the range of praises). Key Thought: The place and method of worship. Key Subject: How worship works to draw me into God’s presence.

-Song of Solomon (Shir HaShirim – song of songs). Key Thought: The place of affection and love in life. Key Subject: How God views affection and yearning of heart.

-Lamentations (E-khah- “alas”). Key Thought: Destruction is not the end. Key Subject: the crucible of judgment.

Eight Empty Marks (Vanities) of Life:
1. Human Wisdom – 2:15,16
2. Human Labor – 2:19,21
3. Human envy and rivalry – 4:4
4. Human avarice – 4:8; 5:10
5. Human fame – 4:16
6. Human coveting – 6:9
7. Human frivolity – 7:3,4
8. Human awards – 8:10,14
Solomon showed he tried many things throughout his life that were not wise!

Symptom Three: Trafficking Unlived Advice (Talk the Talk Principle – 10:2-3). Sometimes we give the right advice, but we don’t live the right way at the same time! Trafficking in unlived truth is dangerous, but not uncommon among believers (10:2-3) -Charles Swindoll in his book on Grace puts it this way, “You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how – guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately . . . yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it – emotional and spiritual damage will occur.” Charles Swindoll. The Grace Awakening. Dallas: Word Pub., 1990) p.97 -One of the subjects I taught was physical science for learning disabled kids. It was hard to get them motivated to do much at all. One day I showed the class a video about protecting the environment. It explored all the ways that humanity was destroying the earth and the steps we needed to take to save our planet. By the end of the video, half the class was unconscious and the other half well on their way to sleepy land. It irked me so I flipped on the lights and launched into a five-minute tirade about how they should care about this subject and do something about it. At the end of my mini sermon one kid named Sam, who never passed a test the whole year, raised his hand. This was odd. Usually nothing roused Sam from his sleep in class. When called on he asked, “Mr. Smith, do you recycle?” Stammering and trying in vain to save face I had to admit that I did not. With one stupid question Sam nailed my hypocrisy. I’ve often wondered if God didn’t work through that sleepy teenager to teach me a lesson. (Sermon central)

Symptom Four: Reveling in Flattery of Allies (The Golden Tongue Principle – 10:8-10). Your men, your servants, your God… On the surface it all sounded good. Was it true? Reveling in praise for things that belong to you Master to give as He desires is not good (10:8-10).
“Flattery is all right—as long as you don’t inhale.” –Adlai Stevenson Flattery is from the teeth out. Sincere appreciation is from the heart out.- Dale Carnegie Psalm 112:9 says that God has scattered his many blessings all over the world. Instead of looking at another person’s success and saying, “That stinks,” we should say, “Lord, I am thankful that I’m not the only person in the world who has been blessed. I am thankful that you cause the sun to rise upon the evil and the good. I am thankful that you have given us everything we need for life and godliness. I am thankful that we serve a God that didn’t just create the world and walk way. But that we serve a God who is involved with blessing us every day of our lives.” And after we get over the shock of discovering that God has the right to bless people as much as He wants, we should say, “Lord, thank you for what you have done for me personally. Thank you for the privilege of being alive in the United States of America. Thank you for my house and my family and my ministry on this earth. Now I wish I could tell you that Solomon was just as thankful to God as the Queen was. I wish I could tell you that he learned to be grateful for his blessings without getting selfish. (Pastor Marc Axelrod, Peace Evangelical and Reformed Church, Wisconsin) Jesus said that the queen was wise to comprehend God’s goodness for what she saw: “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:42)

Symptom Five: Glory in Power Consolidation (The Build Up Principle – 10:15-17, 26). Power appears in symbolic ways. When we ready for a war that is not there, we often do so to our own peril. It was not for preparedness that Solomon stockpiled weapons, it was for vanity (10:15-17,26). We get easily caught up in our own visions of glory! Peter Marshall had this proper attitude in prayer: “O God, when I am wrong, make me easy to change, and when I am right, make me easy to live with!” (Tan #2954 epigram) During an operation, an experienced surgeon asked a young intern, “Who is the most important person in this operating room?” The intern (who was taken back by the question) groped for an appropriate answer. He didn’t believe (for a moment) that this mentor was asking (or fishing) for personal compliments, so trying to sound gracious, he replied (giving credit to the other people’s contribution to the team), “I suppose that it would be these nurses who assist you in such an efficient manner.” The surgeon shook his head and said, “No, the most important individual in this room is (not the doctor, the nurses, or the team, but) the patient. (Remember that.)” (Daily Bread 9/29/93)

Symptom Six: Lap up Status Symbols (The “Bling” Principle – 10:18-25). We can get caught up in the status symbols, but we are really masking emptiness (10:18-25). In a 1995 Forbes magazine released an interesting survey of the chances of a person having an extramarital affair with the income level he or she is making. The higher the income bracket you are in, the higher the infidelity level you will face. If a person makes $10,000-20,000, the chances of a person’s heart changing is 33%. If the person makes $20,000-30,000, the percentage is 45%. If the income is $30,000-40,000, 55%. If income is $40,000-50,000, 66%. If $60,000 and above, 70%. (Forbes FYI 1995) People tend to forget where the small pleasures of life and the simple things in life once they make it. Solomon made it big. He was a celebrity, a hit, a showstopper. Traders or spice merchants (1 Ki 10:15), governors of the land (1 Ki 10:15), apes and peacocks (1 Ki 10:22) made its debut in Scriptures and made their way into Israel for the first time. The king lived a life of influence, affluence and opulence. Solomon made a great throne of ivory for himself (1 Ki 10:18), and twelve lions were on the six steps leading to the throne. All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the palace were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver (1 Kings 10:20-21). (Victor Yap, Riverside CMA, California).

A Jewish story tells of Alexander the Great’s presence before the gates of paradise on his journey home after he had conquered the whole world. Seeing that the gates would not open for him, he asked for a token to prove that he was there. All he got was a human eye. Reaching home, he called all his wise men together. “O King,” replied the wise men, “place the eye in the scales and weigh it.” “What for?” asked Alexander. “I can tell you before hand that it weighs but little.” “Do it just the same!” the wise men urged. “In the other half of the scales place a gold piece. Then we will find out which is heavier.” Alexander did as they asked. To his surprise he found that the eye was heavier than the gold piece. He threw into the scales another gold coin – still the eye was heavier. He then threw a whole handful of coins and ordered that all his gold and silver and jewels be thrown in. Still the eye outweighed the treasure. “Even were you to take all your chariots and horses and palaces and place them in the scales, the eye will be heavier.” said the wise men. “How do you explain this?” asked the king. “How is such a thing possible?” “Learn a lesson from all this, O king,” said the wise men. “Know that the human eye is never satisfied with what it sees. No matter how much treasure you will show it, it will want more and still more.” “Your explanation doesn’t satisfy me. Give me proof,” insisted Alexander. “Very well,” agreed the wise men. “Have all your gold and treasure removed from the scales. Then place a pinch of dust in their place and observe what happens.” Barely had Alexander placed a little dust in the scales when they tipped to the other end, for the dust proved heavier than the eye. “Now I understand the meaning of your words and of what was in your minds!” cried Alexander. “So long as man is alive, his eye is never sated, but no sooner does he die when he is as dust! Then his eye loses its impulse and becomes powerless. It can no longer desire.” (Victor Yap, Riverside CMA, California) What can we do to guard against the slide into sin in spite of appearances? We need to be aware and observant that there are symptoms that we must recognize to keep ourselves from plunging downward.

Every year in Alaska, a 1000-mile dogsled race, a run for prize money and prestige, commemorates an original “race” run to save lives. Back in January of 1926, six-year-old Richard Stanley showed symptoms of diphtheria, signaling the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental but effective anti-diphtheria serum. But it wasn’t long before Dr. Welch’s supply ran out, and the nearest serum was in Nenana, Alaska–1000 miles of frozen wilderness away. Amazingly, a group of trappers and prospectors volunteered to cover the distance with their dog teams Operating in relays from trading post to trapping station and beyond, one sled started out from Nome while another, carrying the serum, started from Nenana. Oblivious to frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion, the teamsters mushed relentlessly until, after 144 hours in minus 50-degree winds, the serum was delivered to Nome. As a result, only one other life was lost to the potential epidemic. Their sacrifice had given an entire town the gift of life.The people were saved by the sacrifice of others, but equally by the ability of one man to see the symptoms and interpret them in the lives of his villagers before they were lost!

1 Kings 9 (1): Read The Fine Print!

“But YOU PROMISED!” she said from the back seat of the car. Every parent has heard it before! In every agreement there are the claims and promises. In some there is the “fine print”; you know, the part that is so small you need a magnifying glass to read the number 3 font lettering. The fine print reveals the CONDITIONS on which everything else is based. Don’t you really appreciate it when someone makes clear the conditions up front? It settles your expectations!
God never wanted those who follow Him and wait on Him for blessing to misunderstand the real conditions for blessing. Yet it seems the “fine print” has gotten lost in many places that are claiming to dispense God’s blessings on His behalf. Could they have missed the “conditions statement”? Solomon had a unique relationship with God as a King that had pleased God. He was not only a king, but a gifted wise king. Yet, God took special pains over the centuries to record and preserve the messages of God to Solomon. Why?

Key Principle: God has revealed what He truly expects from each of us. It is not a secret or a mystery. He opened the conditions of blessing for any who want to listen to them.

9:1-3 At the time that Solomon did all the projects he intended (building his Palace and the Temple) that the Lord came to speak to Solomon again. God said: “I heard the prayer you offered, and I set aside the Temple as a special place where I invested both My heart and My name (as you asked Me to).”

I. General Pattern: God looks for the believer to produce from their heart a work from Him, based on their call and their gifts. He hears their prayers and He opens to them the supplies that ask for. In this case, God waited for Solomon to use the abilities that He gave him, and put together the projects that were on his heart. He listened to Solomon’s prayers and responded to the needs requested.

9:4-5 “Now concerning the part of your prayer for you and your throne, I want to restate the conditions of blessing. If you walk with integrity (from tawmam: to complete with soundness) of heart, if you walk uprightly (from yawshar: level or plumb), if you perform obediently my engraved unchanging principles (khoke: engravings) and ordinances (mishpatim: judgments), THEN your family hold over the throne will go on without end.”

II. Positive Claims and Promises: God asks believers to walk with two basic requirements: first, that they would live within the boundaries of His timeless truths or principles. Knowing us, God says, if you fail to do so, then hear my judgments on these things, repent, and do what I prescribe to mend the problems. When those things happen, you open the flow of blessing to what you have requested.

9:6-8 “In the event”, the Lord continued, “that you or any son of yours stop following Me (meaning, serve (awvad: labor on behalf of) someone or something other than Me), I will remove the blessing of the land from the people of Israel, remove My special hand of blessing in the operations in the Temple, and I will publicly cause the humiliation of this people to be on the lips of those around them. The Temple will be an astounding ruin that everyone will see and remark about the destruction and the reason for it – turning from Me to other gods.”

III. Protective (Negative) Conditions: God states that when a believer decides that some other goal is more important to work at than those given to him by God (when he was living to please the Lord) then three penalties should be anticipated:

1) Loss of the fruits of promise and blessing from God. In the case of Israel it was the loss of the Promised land. They would not possess the eternal inheritance they were given. They would still have claim to the land, but it would be iused by another people group – not them.
2) Loss of intimate touches in meeting with God – especially in worship;
3) Replacement of shame over the positive testimony of our lives.
God has revealed what He truly expects from each of us. It is not a secret or a mystery. He opened the conditions of blessing for any who want to listen to them.

Responsible living and the Gospel of Grace: Just as our walk began by the energizing work of the Spirit and the miraculous salvation through the cross of Christ, so the walk of the believer continues by empowerment beyond the work of the believer Himself. We must face our responsibilities, that is sure. Yet, we must also admit we cannot be all that God wants us to be apart from increasing more time with Him, yielding more of ourselves to Him, relying more heavily upon His power than ever before. It is not a simple will issue. We have to admit that we aren’t strong enough without the empowering work of His spirit and the cleansing work of His blood. We have to surrender to His desires consciously, or we will walk in our own desires willfully.

1 Kings 9 (2): The Belly Flop of Compromise

Elegantly poised on the edge of the rippling water, the scene was a familiar summer fun selection. Would the next move be a smooth and sleek dive in with barely a ripple to follow? Would he take a few dramatic steps away from the water and jump high, holding his legs and “power bombing” those in the cool water as well as those sunning themselves at poolside? Neither. Full of promise he leaped toward the pool but miscalculated the effect those watching had on him. His elegance was transformed into a painful “belly flop”. Some who stood by groaned, as the heard the body strike the water. No one enjoyed the sound or the appearance of pain…

Key Principle: God revealed that blessing follows inner surrender to Him. When we become distracted by this world, we settle for outer appearances. The choice to be distracted by the world in our pursuit of following God leads to disaster.

There are Seven Steps to Compromise our Call:
1. Ignore God’s Word (9:3-9). God made promises, Solomon looked elsewhere…
In the year A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued a decree that he hoped would extinguish the spreading flames of Christianity. One of his primary objectives was the seizure and destruction of the Christian Scriptures. Later that year, officials enforced the decree in North Africa. One of the targets was Felix, the Bishop of Tibjuca, a village near Carthage. The Roman authorities ordered Felix to hand over his Scriptures. Though some governors were willing to accept scraps of parchment, Felix refused to surrender the Word of God at the insistence of mere men. Resolutely, he resisted compromise before the proconsul at Carthage. Felix paid for his perseverance with his life. On July 15, he laid down his life – as the record puts it, “with pious obstinacy,” rather than surrender his scriptures.

2. Become Dependent on the World’s Goods for Affirmation (9:10-14) – Compromise Your Source of Affirmation! “Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of attaining another – too often ending in the loss of both. Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer.”- Merrit Malloy

3. Adopt the World’s Answers for Success (9:15, 20-21).

4. Make Alliances the World’s Way (9:16-18,24).
Religious tolerance is not always a sign of good will. It can be a sign of careless, perhaps hypocritical religious indifference of the most high-handed philosophic relativism. It can also be a mask behind which to hide downright malice. During the Nazi era, for example, arguments for Christian openness to other perspectives were used by German Christians in an attempt to neuter the church’s protest against the neo-paganism of Hitler and his minions. The Confessing Church in Germany found in John 10 a theological basis to stand against Hitler. There are times in which the only way to keep alive the non-vindictive, nonjudgmental, self-sacrificing witness of Jesus Christ is to stand with rude dogmatism on the rock that is Jesus Christ, condemning all compromise as the work of the Antichrist. SOURCE: Ronald Goetz in “Exclusivistic Universality” (Christian Century, April 21, 1993). “If our language has appeared to some strong and severe, or even intemperate, let the gentlemen pause for a moment and reflect on the importance and gravity of the subject… We had to deal with human life. In a matter of this importance we could entertain no compromise.” The American Medical Association, 1981, in a report opposing abortion. Quoted in Marvin Olasky’s The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988.

5. Focus on Personal Pleasure (9:19).
Chuck Swindoll said, “The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune.” IT’S LIKE THE LITTLE BOY WHO PRAYED ONE NIGHT BEFORE HE WENT TO BED, “DEAR GOD, MAKE ME GOOD BUT NOT TOO GOOD, JUST GOOD ENOUGH SO I DON’T GET A WHIPPING” (sermon central illustrations)

6. Draw in Others Who Follow You (9:22-23).
The AD agency Young & Rubicam claim brands have replaced religious faith in giving meaning to people’s lives. The ad agency says that successful ’belief brands,’ such as Calvin Klein, Microsoft and Nike, work because they have fun and refuse to compromise their core beliefs. (The Net Economy 3/19/01) Author Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’

7. Keep the Religious Front Working (9:25).
The story is told that John Wesley, a founder of Methodism, changed his view about church division after a dream in which he was first transported to the gates of Hell. He asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “Yes.” “Any Congregationalists?” “Yes.” He hesitated, then said, “Not any Methodists, I hope!” To his dismay the answer was “Yes.” Suddenly in his dream he stood at the gate of Heaven. Once again he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “No,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “No.” “Any Congregationalists?” “No.” Then he asked the question which most interested him: “Are there any Methodists here?” He was shocked to receive the same stern reply, “No!” “Well then,” he asked in surprise, “please tell me who IS in Heaven?” “CHRISTIANS!” was the jubilant answer. It is not your brand that gets you in – but your heart commitment to Jesus! (sermon central illustrations).

The problem is not that we flop, it is that we flop while pretending to ourselves and those around us that we made an elegant dive. We are in pain, but we don’t show it, because that would be embarrassing. We hide, and hurt alone – simply because we won’t walk in our call. The choice to be distracted by the world leads us to disaster.