Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Wisdom: The Battlefronts of Self-Discipline

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wisdom: The Battlefronts of Self-Discipline

1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (I Kings 11:1-8).

Living carnally (worldly) may be the grossest moral abuse of the grace of God any Christian can commit. I am not talking about the occasional slip into sin or losing an occasional battle in the temptation of our corrupt sin nature. I am talking about purposefully and carelessly living in disregard of God’s will and against His commandments to live holy and separated from worldliness. This kind of living disregards God’s expectations of His children, distorts His grace, communicates a lie about what it means to be a believer and shuts down God’s blessings on the spiritual lives of individuals, families and, local churches. Sadly, carnality exists among professing Christians in pandemic proportions. Carnality has become the norm, not the abnorm. As the lost world moves away from the commands of God at almost the speed of light, Christians are in fast pursuit like hounds in a hunt. This kind of carnality is the portrait God paints for us in the words of I Kings 11:1-8. What a sad picture it is.

The fame of Solomon’s wisdom brought the prominent people of the world before him with lavish gifts inquiring answers from him regarding life. It was a tremendous opportunity to teach the pagan world of the True God. Instead, Solomon took the glory for the wisdom God gave him for himself. The record of the wealth and fame that came to him due to this is recorded in I Kings chapters 9 and 10. We can learn a great deal from Solomon’s spiritual failure in his interaction with these other cultures. We can learn about one of the gravest of spiritual dangers that all of us will face in life: the pride of life.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).
Solomon’s failure began with a problem common to all of humanity: lust or carnal desires. “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). What affect did Solomon’s interaction with all the various cultures that came to dialogue with him, seeking the wisdom God had given him, have upon Solomon’s life? Each time another nation came to meet with Solomon, it was like a parade of carnality before “the lust of” his “flesh, and the lust of” his “eyes, and the pride of” his “life.” Although Solomon HAD wisdom, he was not WISE to allow this.

Solomon’s father, David, had already failed in this very area of temptation. It is a common area of temptation to all humanity. However, Solomon did not learn from his father’s failure nor from his father’s commitment to insure that it never happen again.

I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101: 2-3).
David said, “ . . . the work of them that turn aside . . .shall not cleave to me.” David understood that sin is sticky. Once sin gets hold of you, it will not let you go until it has consumed and destroyed your life. The reason sin is sticky is because our fallen natures are filled with corrupt desires. It is certainly not wise to allow the world to parade its temptations before our eyes. We may not be able to control all of the content of that parade, but most of it we can. Even if we are able to avoid the temptation in one given moment, what the eyes see, the eyes record in a mental picture in our brains. Then our fallen natures draw upon those mental pictures and begin to fantasize. Fantasy creates increased longing for more mental pictures. In this scenario, we can fully understand the statement, “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). Lust is never satisfied.

It is apparent from the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon was greatly influenced in a negative way by the many and varied cultures that came before him. It is also apparent that the more interaction Solomon had with these various pagan cultures, the more he was influenced by their philosophies and cultural practices. Solomon became a philosophical and theological integrationist professing to believe in YEHWEH while living like a pagan. In doing so, he led the nation of Israel into hedonism, paganism and, the horrible, deviant, perverse practices of idolatry. Idolatry is much more than the worship of stone, wood or metal carvings. Idolatry involves individuals in such perverse forms of worship that we are it is a “shame” to even mention what they do, let alone describe these practices.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:1-12).
Idolatry is a subtle deception. One can be an idolater without worshipping a stone, wood or metal idol. The primary word for “worship” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word shachah (shaw-khaw'). It means to depress or prostrate. It was expressing worship by bowing down to the ground and touching the forehead at the feet of the person or thing worshipped. Worship could also be expressed by obeisance, bowing the head of the body at the waist. Women would curtsy. There is also a wider and more common form of worship in simply giving reverence to someone or thing. This is merely expressing a feeling of profound awe, respect, and often love or veneration. Covetousness can also be described with these practices. Therefore, anything we lust after is a form of idolatry. “Solomon loved many strange women” (I Kings 11:1). Solomon’s idolatry existed in his heart BEFORE he began its outward and perverse practices.

There can be desires of the heart that are righteous. This exists when we give ourselves to pursue after God and invest our lives in the things He commands us to do. We do not truly worship God until we involve ourselves in pursuing personal holiness, being separate from worldliness, ministering to people by informing them of the gospel and God’s free gift of salvation, and teaching them how to live in a way that can be pleasing to God. Worship of God is the preoccupation of our lives with all that God is, all that God loves, and all that God tells us to do.

Solomon’s cooperation with pagans and the integration of paganism into his lifestyle completely distorted everything God had brought him into power to do. His life steadily led the nation of Israel away from the spiritual principles of wisdom that God intended for him to establish. Genuine wisdom is usually a complete contradiction to the vulgarities of human rationalization. Solomon took his human rationalism and integrated it with the wisdom God gave him. Perhaps we can say that Solomon was one of the first New Evangelicals. He began his slide into paganism by simply allowing the lust of his heart to take prominence over God’s desires for his life. We must learn from Solomon’s failure and from God’s warning to Solomon. If we do not, we are doomed to repeat it.

And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name here for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have Worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (I Kings 9:1-9).
We ask ourselves how Solomon could receive this kind of straightforward communication directly from God and still involve himself in the practices that he did. It is amazing and astonishing. However, we often fail to see that there was a 13-year time span between Solomon’s prayer in the dedication of the Temple (I Kings 8) and this communication with God. Solomon spent 7 years building the Temple and the next 13 years building his own house. Solomon essentially and practically abandoned the Temple while the world came to worship at his feet in the Temple he built for himself, which was even grander than the Temple of God. How easy it is to forget God when we become preoccupied with ourselves. This is the subtlety of carnality.

When sin finally finishes with us; we look back on the carnage of our lives in amazement. We ask ourselves how we could ever have been so foolish and so blind. We stand alone in the midst of destroyed lives of those that followed the model we provided and cry out to God in despair. Is there anyway to fix the mess we have created? The great truth of God’s Word is that is never too late to try.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

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