Monday, January 28, 2013

"Ask! What shall I give you?"

Solomon's Dream - 1 Kings 3:5-15
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 3:1-15

"At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, 'Ask! What shall I give you?'" 1 Kings 3:5

I love this story! How can one help but be drawn to a king who has the humility to admit, 'I don't know how to do this'? How many times hasn't a similar cry come from my lips, perhaps yours too?

We can learn some lessons for our lives from Solomon's encounter with God.

1. We see at the beginning of our reading that Solomon wasn't perfect. He was busy making an expedient political alliance with Egypt by marrying an Egyptian princess and a few verses farther on we see that though he loved the Lord and followed His laws he also sacrificed at the pagan high places (1 Kings 3:1,3). Yet still God came through to help him.
  • Similarly, we don't need to wait until we're perfect to ask for God's help.

2. God brought Solomon to a point of articulating his deepest thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. Perhaps God chose to come to Solomon in a dream because of how uninhibited we are while dreaming. 
  • God can also help us come to a place of understanding where, exactly, we need His help. (Although we might also ask, where don't we need His help, we just don't realize it.)

3. Solomon asked for help to do his job—ruling Israel—in a just way.
  • Though none of us has this assignment, we can ask God for help with the jobs we do have—raising our kids, performing at work as bosses or underlings, serving in church, perhaps leading a committee or as a member of a board or executive where things can get contentious...

4. On waking Solomon probably felt no different than on any other morning. But he went straight to Jerusalem and to 'church,'  "stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord," sacrificed offerings and feasted with his servants. By faith he celebrated God's answer to his request (1 Kings 3:15). 
  • We too can expect God to answer our deepest requests. To solidify what these are, it helps if we write them down. Then in faith we can begin thanking God for His answers even as we watch how over the weeks, months, and years they become reality. We will see the proof in the feedback others give us and the fruit of our own lives!

PRAYER: Dear God, I need Your wisdom for ____. Please work in my life to help me do the tasks and shoulder the responsibilities You have given me. Amen.

MORE: Covenant prayerSolomon's prayer here is another of the great prayers of the Old Testament. Walter Bruegemann, in his chapter on this prayer alludes to how the teachings of Jesus and Paul echo the fact that God is generous to those in a covenant relationship with Him (Matthew 7:9-10; Ephesians 3:12-20). If Solomon will keep his end of the covenant with God, God will come through for him with lavish gifts that he hasn't even asked for. Bruegemann concludes:

"The two cannot be separated. If we take only the generosity of YHWH, we destroy the context for viable communion. If we take only uncompromising requirements, we miss the readiness of God to give. Mature prayer is the capacity to enter the dream communion with God who gives and summons" - Walter Bruegemann, Great Prayers of the Old Testament, p. 57” (emphasis added).

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