The title of this teaching is Walking With Wisdom. In the book of Proverbs, God says that wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
This is translated in the King James Version as wisdom being the principle thing. If you are like me, we should all sit back and take notice. If God says that something is supreme or the principle thing, then I want to do everything that I can to find out what that is.
In this teaching we are going to explore the topic of wisdom. We are going to explore it specifically as it relates to character. I believe that wisdom can be applied in many different areas of a person’s life, but wisdom as it relates to a person’s character is the highest form of wisdom that we need to pursue. I am recording this teaching in January of 2009, after having just returned from our winter youth event which we call Live Out Loud. This event is held every year for those within our youth community, who come from all over the United States—and this year we were blessed to have saints from Canada who attended. It is designed specifically for our youth community and young adults. At this year’s Live Out Loud conference we pursued the topic of wisdom. The theme of the conference was specifically Walking In Wisdom. At the conference, we pursued wisdom in life in general. We looked at wisdom in relationships. We looked at wisdom in finances and wisdom and how it relates to the spiritual battle. We had lots of workshops and breakout sessions. It was during the course of this weekend, as I listened to the various presenters on wisdom and the topics on wisdom, that the role of character as it relates to wisdom impacted me in a very strong way.
When I think of life, I like to think of it as a journey, a road trip if you would. It is like walking down a pathway. It does not take long to go down any kind of a street or path before you are going to have to make a decision. That decision is going to come when you reach a cross-road. You are going to have to decide which way should I go? Should I go left or right or straight ahead or stay where I am. Life in many ways is like that. Life is filled with choices and many cross-roads. Sometimes we hit paths that really do not make much of a difference on which way that we go. Other times, we hit paths that have critical points of decisions. These critical points of decisions can inalterably affect the rest of our life. Life is filled with choices.
We hit those times of choices, choices relating to careers, relationships, or finances. I took a few minutes the other day, and I started listing some of the choices that people make. How about choices such as your career—“What type of career path should I pursue? Where should I go to school? What should I do with my life? Should I take this job? Should I quit this job? What should I do if I am laid-off from this job?” How about relationship questions—“How do I restore a relationship with a friend? Should I pursue a love interest with this person? Should I break-up with this person? Should I marry this person?” We are also faced with lots of minor decisions everyday, but the major decisions are the ones in which I am principally concerned.
Many of us, when we reach these major decisions in life, try to seek God’s will. And that is the correct thing to always do. We all want to be pleasing to God. We always want to do what God wants us to do. Many times in my life, I have sought the will of God and have said, “God just tell me what you want me to do. I will do anything that you want me to do. Jesus please direct my life.” That is the correct heart, and the right way that we should always approach major decisions in life. Times have occurred in which I have prayed and prayed and prayed, and I have not gotten an answer. Times have occurred when I have gotten a sense or some specific direction, but I would say that the majority of the time that has not been the case. The typical thing in my life is not to have angels appear in my dreams like they did with Joseph saying, “Joseph take Mary and the baby and head to Egypt,” or having an angel visit me and say something profound, which happened to Daniel or Mary.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Those things certainly do happen. We know that Peter had a vision as he was up on the roof top in Joppa concerning the gentiles for that which was clean and unclean.
(9) About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
(10) He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
(11) He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
(12) It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.
(13) Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
(14) “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
(15) The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
It is not my intention here to discount in any way that God does work in marvelous ways and does have angelic presences and powerful dreams and visions happen to people; however, I go back to the fact that it does not seem to be the norm. It seems to be the exception.
What do we do when we pray and do not get answers? What do we do when we reach these major points of decisions in our lives? What do we do when we reach a cross-road? The fact is that when you reach a cross-road and if you are not hearing any specific direction from God, only a couple possibilities are there for you. Number one, maybe we are not listening, or number two, maybe God is not speaking.
One day I was reading Leviticus and I came across Leviticus 26:18. This was quite illuminating the day that I read this. It gave me a sense that I needed to ponder this and reflect back that if I am not hearing from God, then I need to check my own heart and my own ways. This is what God is saying after the many things that He has done for the Israelites.
Leviticus 26:18 and 19
(18) If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.
(19) I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze.
The mind picture that I have is that if the sky is iron then my prayers are not penetrating it. They are literally bouncing back and coming down upon me. I believe that one of the first things that we should do is seek God when we reach a cross-road, and if we do not get a specific answer, then we need to examine our own heart and our own ways. That would be the wise thing to do. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we interfering because of pride, which is in our heart? Do we have stubbornness and sinfulness with not letting our pride go?”
I believe that the other answer is that many times we do not hear because God is not speaking, for it is not necessarily a matter of sin in our own lives. And I think He has shown us the answer already, and it is called wisdom.
Proverbs 2:6 and 7
(6) For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
(7) He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
God is addressing character issues in our lives here, our uprightness, our holiness, our integrity, and our truthfulness. If we are walking this way, then our prayers are not going to bounce off the heavens because the heavens will not be iron to us.
for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
This again is a character issue, and it is also a matter of how are you walking? Are you walking in holiness?
Proverbs 2:9 and 10
(9) Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.
(10) For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
When we reach cross-roads in life and we do not get specific directions from God, then the answer that God has given us is wisdom. Wisdom is the answer to knowing do I go left or do I go right? Many times when we reach those cross-roads, we forget about wisdom, and we try to pursue the answer through faith. We should always have faith, but the real answer is what God has already given to us. Think of it like the default answer is always wisdom. When you reach the cross-roads, wisdom will show you which way is the good path to follow. Wisdom is the way of knowing what is correct.
I had a friend years ago who said if one thing was there in life that he could have it would be to always be correct. Imagine this: in other words, every decision that you make in your life is correct. You make the correct investments. You make the correct decisions concerning spending. You make the correct decisions concerning your friends, your relationships, who you marry, the career path you follow. Can you imagine, you could almost rule the world if in fact that was the case.Think about Solomon who God tells us was wiser than any man before him and any man since. In a sense Solomon knew every good path. He knew what was correct, just, and fair. As a result of that wisdom, the immense wealth and power his kingdom attracted was beyond imagination.
When we reach a cross-road in life, the answer is to always seek God. If we do not hear Him, then we know that He has already given us the default answer or the underlying answer which is to pursue wisdom.
A number of years ago, I learned this lesson. I had decided that I really wanted to pursue God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I had made that vow or dedicated myself to that when I was a young man, but through the course of life I had made some missteps and decided to do some wrong things. At one point, God spoke to me in the sense of disciplining me. He definitely got my attention. I decided to rededicate myself to Him and His ways. The specific cross-roads that I was facing was: should I continue in business or pursue ministry full time? Ministry was a desire in my heart when I was in my early 20’s and 30’s, but I had lost that through my mid-thirties and forties. As I sat in my later forties, I decided to tell God that I really wanted to go into ministry full time. The problem or decision that I had to make was the fact that I owned a business; in fact, I had a number of employees and people that were depending upon me. To get out of the business world and to go full time in ministry was a major point in the decision for me. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed, but I never got any specific direction. I was frustrated and left wondering, “God, why will you not tell me what You want me to do?” Well, one day after some prayer, I do believe that I did hear from God, and I learned a big lesson. I got the sense that He was teaching me this, “If you sell your business then I am with you. If you keep your business, I am with you.” It was such a sense that I received in that moment that what we do is not as critical for the Lord Jesus Christ as having a heart and a willingness to just serve him. It is not a matter that I could not serve Jesus in business, for I certainly could. I think that it would have been profitable and beneficial for the Body of Christ, and so too in ministry I can pursue that. Jesus was giving me the choice. I believe that he was giving me the liberty to decide how I wanted to serve him, and that no matter what path that I chose, both would work out for me.
I think that life in many ways is like this. We put too much pressure upon ourselves in thinking, “Should I do this or should I do that?” I really do believe that a lot of the choices are not as critical as we might think that they are. When it comes to being a Christian, I think that we need to commit ourselves to being professionals. Professionals are people who are expert at their craft; they are masters of their trade. I would like to be a professional Christian. That means that no matter what my specific vocation is in life, I am serving the Lord Jesus Christ as a professional.
When we think of professionals, I think of a doctor or a lawyer. These are definitely esteemed professions. You see, if we pursue wisdom, we can be a professional in no matter what vocation that we have, but we can also show up as professional Christians. Doctors are considered professionals because of the years and intensive training in which they have dedicated themselves. They are experts at their medical craft. A good friend of mine, Gary Theisen, is an expert/professional when it comes to anesthesiology. He knows the ins and outs of the mind and the body and the effects of drugs and pharmaceuticals and how to take care of a person when they go under surgery. I have other friends who are lawyers, and they are professionals because they have taken years in training. Even within the legal field some of them specialize: some specialize in contract law, some in marital law, and some in family law. We can be experts in our specific disciplines/our vocations. We can develop wisdom, but we also have to have general wisdom in the overall areas of life.
I heard a story in which I relate. A man by the name of Washington Carver, who was a phenomenal man, and the story goes that he was praying to God one day, and said, “God teach me about your creation.” God said, “No, that is too big.” Washington Carver pondered that and then said, “Well God, teach me everything that I can learn about botany.” God came back and said, “No, that is too big.” Washington Carver came back and said, “Well God, how about teaching me about the peanut?” God said, “Okay, now that I can do.”
What Washington Carver did as a result of that was that he pursued the examination and exploration of the peanut. I believe that God worked within that man’s heart, so that Washington Carver specifically made over 200 discoveries concerning the simple little peanut. Washington Carver is the man who gave us peanut butter, peanut oil, and many other things concerning the peanut. By Washington Carver applying himself and becoming a master at the peanut, he came up with over 200 different discoveries and inventions related to the peanut. He was very wise when it came to the peanut.
We think of professional athletes because they are extremely skilled and competent in the sport that they play. We also need to have skill and competence in our gifts and in our calling.
I believe that a bigger lesson is there that we need to learn relating to wisdom. This lesson is for us to learn about wisdom as it relates to character. I think that ultimately that this is the lesson that God is trying to teach us with the record of Solomon.
If we are going to be professionals in our Christian faith, which is going to require that we be adept and professional at wisdom, then we must look at the best example the world has ever been given of wisdom, which is Solomon.
1 Kings 10:23
King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.
The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom that God had put in his heart. Can you imagine? This is the principle example of wisdom, the supremacy or the loftiness of wisdom in its highest example. Let us take some time now and look at the life of Solomon.
1 Kings 3:5
At Gibeon the LORD [Yahweh] appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Remember, previously in this teaching I already told you that dreams and visions give powerful experiences, but I can guarantee you that I know of nobody where Yahweh, the Creator of the heavens and universe, has specifically appeared to anyone in a dream. Look at this, and this wonderful example. Yahweh appears to Solomon in the night, in a dream, and says…
1 Kings 3:5b-7
(5b) and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
(6) Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
(7) “Now, O LORD [Yahweh] my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.
Wait a minute, Solomon is only a little child? If you work the record here, Solomon is around 20 years old. I do not know many 20 year olds walking around us who hold in their heart an attitude that they are a little child. In Proverbs 11:2, God tells us this:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Look at the humility in this man’s heart. He is somewhere around age 20 and he says, “God, I am only a little child. I have no idea about how to carry out my duties.” I sure strive for humility like this in my life. I pray to God to bust me of pride in areas in which He can because I know that if wisdom is supreme and the principle thing, and I want wisdom, then the only way that I am going to get it is if I am humble.
Now back to 1 Kings.
1 Kings 3:8 and 9
(8) Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.
(9) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
Is he not really distinguishing between right and wrong here? “God which path should I take?” We were talking about life being like walking along a path and coming to a cross-road. That is what Solomon is saying here, “God help me at the cross-roads. Help me to discern. Should I go left or right? What is right and what is wrong? Which is the right path to take?” That is what wisdom is, to know what is right, what is just, what is fair, and every good path.
1 Kings 3:10-12
(10) The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.
(11) So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,
(12) I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
Solomon, I am going to give you a wise and discerning heart, so you will be the wisest man that has ever been—that is basically what God is saying. The record continues and gives us many different examples of Solomon and his wisdom and his administration of justice. Even in the legal professions today, Solomon’s justice causes many people to stop and have awe at the way in which this man was able to discern between right and wrong and what was just and what was fair.
1 Kings 3:28 is specifically about the verdict related to the two women who came and presented a child. Each mother claimed to be the true mother of the child. Both women were emotional. How do you decide? Wisdom showed supreme in this situation. Solomon came out and cut that matter right down the middle. He specifically called for a sword, and when the true mother was flushed out, he gave that mother her child back. You see, wisdom will always show itself up in the form of justice and fairness. It always trumps evil every time; it did in that situation.
1 Kings 3:28b
they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
Wisdom will always bring awe to people. When we tap into the wisdom of God and God’s discernment and when we seek Him, and He does not give us specific instructions, then He has already told us what to do—walk in wisdom and pursue it.
Though wisdom costs everything that you have, it says in Proverbs. It is more valuable than gold, more valuable than rubies.
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!
(13) Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding,
(14) for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
(15) She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
1 Kings 9:1 is another wonderful record. It is a powerful thing to have Yahweh, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, to appear to you in a dream and have a specific conversation with you. This is Yahweh, the God, the Creator who walked with Adam. This is not Michael or Gabriel or just some angel; this is Yahweh!
1 Kings 9:1-3
(1) When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do,
(2) the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.
(3) The LORD said to him: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me…
First of all, let us look at the context here. This is 20 years after Yahweh’s original appearance to Solomon. How do we know that? We know that because it took thirteen years plus another seven years to build the Temple and to build Solomon’s Palace. That is 20 years. We are here 20 plus years later after Yahweh’s original appearance to Solomon at Gibeon. What message does he bring to Solomon; what wisdom is Yahweh going to impart to Solomon, who is the wisest man on the face of the earth? This is what he imparts in 1 Kings 9:4:
1 Kings 9:4a
“As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did…
See, God was addressing Solomon’s character. Integrity is a character trait; it is something that God, I believe, saw to be a potential problem on the trajectory of Solomon’s life. God is always concerned with our character; in fact, I think that God is more concerned with our character than with our gifts and our calling. That is what God is addressing here with Solomon. God is not addressing the gift that Solomon has been given which was wisdom. That was clearly what God had given to Solomon. God is addressing the issues of Solomon’s heart, specifically with wisdom concerning his character. It is showing up in the integrity and the uprightness of Solomon’s walk.
Gifts are free from God, but character is what we do with those gifts. Years ago, I collected a few quotes concerning character, and I would like to say couple of them:
- “We are given our gifts, but we must develop our character.”
- “Our character is what earns us the trust of others.”
I have experienced once in a ministry where profoundly talented people were present. They were exercising their gifts in teaching and in other areas, but it was their character that was the problem. I do not care how well that you exercised your gift, and I do not care what kind of impact that you have on people, and I do not care how you move and speak and the impact that you have when you preach and teach, but if you do not have the character in your personal life, then all the other is meaningless. I believe it is our character that will count at the Bema. You will not have to stand or be judged about your gifting. That is a free gift from God.
- “Ability gets a man to the top, but it is his character that is going to keep him there?”
- “A person is never going to rise above the limitations of their character.”
God was concerned about Solomon’s character. I cannot stress this enough. God is always concerned about our character. We have to exercise great wisdom when it comes to our character because our character can be good, or it can be evil. If we follow foolishness and do foolish things and make foolish choices, it will then show up in our character.
I once heard a man say, “Character is the sum total of a person’s life choices.” Who you are is based upon the choices that you have made in your life. That is why God is so concerned about character. God addresses it in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and in the New Testament it is all over the place.The book of Corinthians addresses divisions, law suits, sexual immorality, how we are supposed to act toward one another, and our marital conduct, idolatry, and pride. These are all character issues. Okay, how about the leadership books of Timothy and Titus? Jesus is specifically addressing Elders. Overseers of the Body of Christ are to oversee their families well and how we are to act. These are again character issues. I believe that when we appear before the Lord Jesus Christ’s judgement seat, before the Bema of Christ, that we will be judged on our character. We have got to be so wise in the area of character. Look at Romans 14:12.
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
What will the account be that we will be giving? The account will be the choices that we made in life, and those choices are based upon our characters.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
God is addressing character here. I have been working on this for the past couple of months, but sections are there in Romans, Corinthians, Hebrews, and Peter in which God specifically says that nobody who is sexually immoral or greedy or in idolatry has an inheritance in the kingdom of God. This is not to say that people are not saved, for I do believe that salvation is permanent for Christians because of the metaphor of birth. However, I believe the ramifications of flaws in peoples character are so severe that we have not even scratched the surface of what that means.
(1) The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
(2) If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
(3) But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,
(4) because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
(5) Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
(6) with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
(7) Then I said, ‘Here I am– it is written about me in the scroll–I have come to do your will, O God.'”
(8) First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made).
(9) Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.
(10) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(11) Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
(12) But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
(13) Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,
(14) because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
(15) The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
(16) “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
(17) Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
(18) And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
(19) Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
(20) by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
(21) and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
(22) let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
(23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(24) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
(25) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(26) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
(27) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
(28) Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
(29) How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
(30) For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
(31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
(32) Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.
(33) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.
(34) You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
(35) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
(36) You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
(37) For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
(38) But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
(39) But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
I believe as I said that God is concerned about character. The reason that I pursued this path of character in this teaching is because that is what God was addressing in 1Kings 9:4 with Solomon.
1 Kings 9:4 and 5
(4) “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws,
(5) I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
How powerful that would have been for Solomon to pursue integrity, for him to pursue his wisdom regarding his character, and be holy and upright before God. Can you imagine the possibility that a continuing king could have been always on the throne of David right up until the time of the Messiah? That is not what happened as we will see in 1 Kings 11:4.
1 Kings 11:4
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
Folks, Solomon failed in his character. He did not continue to walk in his uprightness. Sure, he had wisdom; he had great wisdom concerning the world, warfare, finances, and all these other things. Solomon did not, however, pursue wisdom in the most important area of his life which was in his character. It shows up here in 1 Kings 11:4 very clearly. Another record of Solomon’s life is 1 Kings 3:3:
1 Kings 3:3
Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
That is a big “except.” This I believe occurred towards the beginning of Solomon’s life. The highest place was in Gibeon, which was where Yahweh first appeared to him, when Solomon was around 20 years old. Remember, 20 years later Yahweh appears to Solomon again. That means that Solomon is around 40 years old. We know that Solomon lived quite a long time. The testimony of Solomon’s life, the record, the accounting of which he will have to give when he appears before the judgement seat was that he was, as stated here, an idolater. His heart pursued other gods; that is idolatry. Solomon’s heart was not fully devoted to Yahweh his God as the heart of David, his father, had been.
What, then, happened to this man? In 1 Kings 8, if you read it, he has this beautiful prayer that Solomon gives at the dedication of the Temple.
1 Kings 8:22–60
(22) Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven
(23) and said: “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below– you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.
(24) You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it– as it is today.
(25) “Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me as you have done.’
(26) And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
(27) “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
(28) Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.
(29) May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.
(30) Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
(31) “When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple,
(32) then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare to the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence.
(33) “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple,
(34) then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.
(35) “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,
(36) then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
(37) “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come,
(38) and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel–each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple–
(39) then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men),
(40) so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.
(41) “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name–
(42) for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple,
(43) then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
(44) “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,
(45) then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
(46) “When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near;
(47) and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’;
(48) and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name;
(49) then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
(50) And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy;
(51) for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
(52) “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you.
(53) For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt.”
(54) When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.
(55) He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:
(56) “Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
(57) May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.
(58) May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers.
(59) And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need,
(60) so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.
This last verse of the prayer, verse 60, is a monumental shift from the point of declaring that Yahweh is God and no other is there, according to this record in 1 Kings 11, which says that Solomon’s heart pursued other gods. If Yahweh is the only God, getting to the point where you pursue other gods is a 180 degree turn. I would say that it was because Solomon would not heed God’s Word the second time Yahweh came to Solomon when he was around 40 years old. By God’s mercy and grace, God appears to Solomon and coached him and said, “Solomon, you had better get your heart straight. You had better check your character here buddy, specifically concerning your integrity concerning Me and walking upright.”
In order to really understand why Solomon’s heart got turned, I had a conversation with John Schoenheit. John pointed out to me that Deuteronomy 17 gives a lot of light concerning Solomon. Solomon ignored a number of things concerning God’s instructions. Deuteronomy is the book that Moses wrote. God is addressing His people here. They will be entering the land and some day they will want a king. We will pick it up in verse 15.
Deuteronomy 17:15 and 16
(15) be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite.
(16) The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”
God drew His people out of Egypt and knew the evils that were in Egypt, and He warned them—do not go back.
He [the king] must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
Can you see a problem here? He is telling them that the king should not acquire a great number of horses, he should not go back to Egypt to get them, he should not take many wives, and he should not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Look at what verse 18 says.
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites.
The king was to literally sit down with pen in hand and scroll in front of him and write out the words of the law. I know that a lot happens to me when I listen to a teaching or when I actually sit and write it on paper. I believe that God was so concerned that He wanted that king to be completely tapped into what God’s heart and desires were for God’s people. He wanted the king to write it on paper.
It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees
Do you know that in all the records of Solomon, I do not know of one instance where it says that Solomon ever did this? Now maybe he did and maybe he did not, but in my heart he did not because Solomon did veer away from God’s dictates.
[this king] and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
This is what the king was supposed to do. Now let us go back again to 1 Kings. We will begin in chapter 10, verse 7 with the Queen of Sheba and see how Solomon’s heart was turned to idolatry.
1 Kings 10:7
But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.
The world here is testifying to Solomon of this fantastic kingdom that he has acquired.
1 Kings 10:14 and 15
(14) The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents,
(15) not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land.
Folks, this is a figure of speech. Solomon received a lot more than 666 talents of gold. God is telling us that the source of the gold was demonically flowing into Solomon’s kingdom. God is giving us the source; it is 666. Let us go to verse 18.
1 Kings 10:18-20
(18) Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold.
(19) The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them.
(20) Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom.
Remember the record in Deuteronomy 17:30 where it said that he was not to consider himself better than his brothers? This is a throne like no other throne. Again, these are character issues. Where is the humility in Solomon’s heart? Remember the record where he said at age 20, “Oh God, I am like a child.” Now, at this point, Solomon is in his 50-60’s—the later part of his life. This is after God has addressed the integrity and the uprightness of his heart. Solomon is here at this point elevating himself to a point where he is on a throne where never has there been such a throne like it before then. This is God’s testimony concerning Solomon.
1 Kings 10:21
All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days.
Remember again, God said that Solomon was not to accumulate large amounts of silver or gold. That is exactly what Solomon did do; he went completely contrary to what God told him to do. This is a character flaw. That is why God had been addressing Solomon’s character back at chapter nine because it was Solomon’s character that was a problem. Do you see that it is not just wisdom, but rather it is godly wisdom; it is pursuing wisdom from above in the way that God wants us to live. It is character which will always derail us from this. Solomon had a phenomenal gift from God, but it was his character flaws which were basically his Achilles’ heal. It was his downfall.
1 Kings 10:26
Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem.
Now wait a minute, God said back in Deuteronomy 17:16, “Do not acquire great numbers of horses.” Why did he say this? He said it because horses and chariots represented military power and God was always to be Israel’s defense. They were not to rely upon their military strength. Solomon would have been able to rationalize this or justify all this by saying, “I have got a massive kingdom. My kingdom stretches from this sea to that sea. How could a king have a kingdom without having horses and chariots and armies and siege works. We need all this stuff.” He could rationalize and justify any thing that he wanted as also we can, but when it comes down to the bottom line, it is character and it will always be character that will derail us or cause us to float to the top. It is not your gifting, it is not your calling, but it is always an issue of character.
1 Kings 10:27 and 28
(27) The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.
(28) Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue–the royal merchants purchased them from Kue.
Oops, alarms and bells should be going off for a problem is here. God said, “Do not go back to Egypt.”
1 Kings 11:1
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter–Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
Wait a minute, it says Pharaoh’s daughter, now we are talking about political alliances here.
1 Kings 11:2 and 3
(2) They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.
(3) He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
All this was a direct contradiction of what God told Solomon to do. It always comes down to character. The point here is that God tells us, “Pursue wisdom.” Wisdom is supreme, but especially as it relates to our character. Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness.
I think about all the times in my own life where a couple of singular instances occurred where I made the wrong choice. I did not pursue wisdom, and it caused me grief in ways in which I have never been able to recover from. God’s mercy and grace have been immense upon my life, but yet I still suffer some of the consequences of my foolish decisions.
It is like a gentleman once said, “A man’s reputation is what others think of him, but his character tells who he really is.” Joseph had wisdom and he had character. Do you remember Joseph in the Old Testament? He was sold into slavery, and then he was purchased as a slave and became a steward over Potiphar’s household. Potiphar’s wife grabs Joseph and tries to have sex with him. Joseph flees and runs away. He suffered consequences for doing the right thing; but nevertheless, he stood with great character. Personal discipline concerning sexual immorality was there. I believe that God ultimately rewarded him for that. He also treated his brothers correctly when they were brought back before him. Joseph had wisdom too; he had great discernment concerning oversight, administration, and management. He also had good character, and God was able to bless him with that.
The prophet Daniel in the Old Testament was considered a wise man. We think that the wise men who traveled from the East and came after the birth of Christ were probably related to Daniel who had been in the Babylonian Kingdom. Yet, Daniel refused to bow and bend his knee and to pray to a false god. He was then thrown into the lion’s den.
Character is really not an easy thing to pursue. Wisdom will show us what the right thing to do is. Wisdom shows us the good path. Wisdom shows us what is just and fair. Wisdom shows us what is right, but it is character that causes us to do what is right.
I remember years ago that I was on a job sight, and in my profession, I worked in hazardous waste. Specifically, I had to do an asbestose abatement. I was called by a contractor and asked to give him a bid. When I got onto the job site, the contractor presented me with an environmental survey. I was reading it to see which materials had been tested and what had asbestos in it so that I could give him a bid on the cost to have it removed. As I read the survey, I realized that first of all, the contractor had done the survey work, which was illegal, and second, the contractor had not sampled all the products that really could potentially contain asbestos. I confronted them on that and said, “I can give you a bid for what you are calling out here, but the problem is that you have not tested all the things that should be tested, and I know that from the age of this building that most likely a lot of other products here have asbestos in it.” Well, he got a little agitated and made a statement about another dilemma. I asked what the dilemma was, and he said, “If I test it, the owner of this building will be upset because that could increase his cost. If I do not test it, then I am breaking the law.” In that instance, it hit me. I told him, “The only reason that you have that dilemma between the law and the owner is because you never made up your mind to always do the right thing.” You see, that is character. Character causes us to do the right thing. Wisdom will show us what the right thing is, but character is what gets us to do it.
Our failure to follow wisdom and to commit to do the right thing will always create dilemmas. Doing the right thing is not easy. I think that most of the time doing the right thing can show up as a pretty hard thing to do because it is not easy to do a hard thing. Life is filled with hard and tough choices, but if we commit to always doing the right thing then the choice gets pretty easy because we have already chosen that path.
When we reach cross-roads as we walk this journey of life, it is going to be wisdom that we have to pursue. We are also going to have to walk with faith. The fact is that wisdom is supreme, as I have mentioned. However, without faith, it is impossible to please God.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I am reminded of the fact that faith is not once mentioned in the book of Proverbs. Why would that be? Just think about it for a second. If you were going to go on a journey, and you had to drive across the country, do you just sit in your car and have faith that the car is full of gas, or do you have the wisdom to look at the gas gauge? Do you have faith that the tires are in good shape, or do you have the wisdom to look at your tires? Wisdom and faith must go hand-in-hand. Where wisdom does not direct us, faith can always cover for us and get us through it. Many people have come to me over the years that are just immobilized. They are focusing on faith and not paying attention to wisdom. Remember, God tells us that wisdom is supreme, and He also tells us without faith it is impossible to please Him.
I think that many times in Christianity we see a false paradigm where everything becomes about faith and very little is exercised about wisdom. I do believe that in the last decade or so a great shift has been occurring. We are seeing Focus On The Family which talks about wisdom and family relationships. Ministries are out there like Cloud and Townsend which also talks about wisdom concerning relationships and how to walk those things out and how to examine our own souls and how to live so that we can live holy and upright. We also have ministries like Joyce Meyers who is phenomenal in pursuing many times issues of wisdom. We also have many ministries who are promoting stewardship and finances (Dave Ramsey).
Both wisdom and faith are required, but I think that wisdom is going to show up principally throughout your life. Again, would you get in your car and not check the gas? Would you never check the oil? Would you never change your oil? Would you not pull out a map and decide to take the fastest way? If you have toll roads to cross would you not put money in your pocket? Those are issues of wisdom. Those are not issues of faith. Times do occur where you do the best that you can do, and then when things break down, God will be there.
I recently had the privilege of visiting a wonderful man who was seventy-two years old and came from a third world country. He had been through many difficulties and trying circumstances, and he still was suffering persecutions for his faith. But he sat there and said, “But praise God!” God bless him. That is it exactly. We praise God throughout all the circumstances, but we pursue wisdom.
Many times living and having the right character is just doing the right thing—just do the next right thing. My good friend, Mike Patten, made that statement to me about four or five months ago, and he said that he was previously in a church setting, and the pastor of that church setting said, “Walking spiritually mature is really pretty simple. It is just a matter of doing the next right thing.” That’s character! Without character, wisdom is meaningless. That is the lesson of Solomon. He proved it; he was the wisest man on the face of the earth, but it was his character flaws that got him into trouble. It was his character which God was trying to address.
The next time that you walk out on this journey of life and you reach a cross-road or a point of decision, seek the Lord Jesus. See if he has some specific directions for you. If he does, he will give it to you. If you do not hear from him, check your heart and make sure that you are not standing before him with pride and are walking in faith and do not have areas of unforgiveness in your life or are concealing ungodly habits and traits. If you still do not hear from the Lord Jesus, then absolutely pursue wisdom, for that is what God tells us to do. It is the principal thing to do. Pursue wisdom as if it were the most valuable thing that you could ever get. It is more valuable than rubies or fine gold, and it will return to you rewards beyond expectation.
Lastly, have the character to do the right thing. Wisdom and character are inseparable if we are to walk in wisdom.