A Matter of the Heart

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today, we conclude with our series of blogs regarding the life of King Solomon.  Focusing on the question – how did Solomon lose his way?

Philip Ryken puts it like this – “the gifts of God never operate independently or automatically, but always according to the affection of our hearts.”

I am reminded that our talents and gifting can only be used for the kingdom of God when we are committed to His glory and not our own.

When our hearts turn from God, our gifts can be used to actually tear down His work instead of building it up.

In the beginning, Solomon’s heart appears to be in the right place. When Solomon asks for wisdom and an understanding heart in I Kings 3, his motivation was to rule the people well.

Even though he ruled his people well, Solomon’s lost path was a series of decisions made one at a time, step by step. It is a lifetime of choices that took him down the path.

By the time we get to 1 Kings 11, we are told in verses 1-3, “Solomon loved many foreign women”, “Solomon clung to these in love”, and “his wives turned away his heart”. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

The chapter goes on to say his wives turned away his heart toward other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God.

Somewhere along the way, Solomon lost his first love – his love for the Lord.

A sobering thought for all of us in ministry or service is the reminder that the gifts God has given us never operate independently or automatically, – they always work “according to the affection of our hearts.”

Our gifting and talents can be useful for the building up of the kingdom, but only to the extent that our hearts are committed to His glory.

Solomon’s story became a tragedy because his heart loved other things more than the living God. He did love God, it seems to a certain extent, but he had a deeply divided heart that also loved too many women and worshiped too many gods.

When our hearts turn away from God, our spiritual gifts will not prevent us from falling into grievous sin.

Mastering theology, serving the poor, giving to Christian work, teaching and serving at the church, —none of these gifts will protect us from spiritual failure if we love the world or love ourselves more than we love God.

Apart from the grace of God and the work of his Spirit, we could very well end up doing something evil that tears down everything we have built, as Solomon did.

People always seem surprised when well-known Christians fall into sin. Perhaps this is because they have been looking at their gifts rather than their hearts. But the heart is the most important thing of all.

When Solomon’s heart turned away from God, even his wisdom turned into folly.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog: ESV Bible, NASB Bible, and excerpts were taken directly from the book – 1 Kings by Philip Ryken.

August 19 – OT Reading

Proverbs 27-29

 

Proverbs 27

Warnings and Instructions

27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
A stone is heavy and the sand weighty,
But the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them.
Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood,
But who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.
Like a bird that wanders from her nest,
So is a man who wanders from his home.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
That I may reply to him who reproaches me.
12 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.
13 Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger;
And for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge.
14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning,
It will be reckoned a curse to him.
15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 He who would restrain her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
18 He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.
19 As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
21 The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him.
22 Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

23 Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will be for your clothing,
And the goats will bring the price of a field,
27 And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food,
For the food of your household,
And sustenance for your maidens.

Proverbs 28

Warnings and Instructions

28 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.
A poor man who oppresses the lowly
Is like a driving rain which leaves no food.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But those who keep the law strive with them.
Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all things.
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than he who is crooked though he be rich.
He who keeps the law is a discerning son,
But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.
He who increases his wealth by interest and usury
Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way
Will himself fall into his own pit,
But the blameless will inherit good.
11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes,
But the poor who has understanding sees through him.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
14 How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
15 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood
Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.
18 He who walks blamelessly will be delivered,
But he who is crooked will fall all at once.
19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.
22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth
And does not know that want will come upon him.
23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.
24 He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
25 An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
27 He who gives to the poor will never want,
But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase.

Proverbs 29

Warnings and Instructions

29 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
The king gives stability to the land by justice,
But a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
By transgression an evil man is ensnared,
But the righteous sings and rejoices.
The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor,
The wicked does not understand such concern.
Scorners set a city aflame,
But wise men turn away anger.
When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
11 A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.
12 If a ruler pays attention to falsehood,
All his ministers become wicked.
13 The poor man and the oppressor have this in common:
The Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
14 If a king judges the poor with truth,
His throne will be established forever.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases;
But the righteous will see their fall.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.
19 A slave will not be instructed by words alone;
For though he understands, there will be no response.
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
21 He who pampers his slave from childhood
Will in the end find him to be a son.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
24 He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.
27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous,
And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Why Even the Wise May Fall

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

While reading through Proverbs 19, part of our reading for today, I was struck by verse 27.  This follows along the lines of what I wrote about last week in regard to wisdom.

“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27 ESV)

One of the saddest tragedies in the Bible is the story of King Solomon. I will explore Solomon’s life over the next three weeks in my blog. What lessons can we learn from him?  This week we will focus on his accomplishments, his legacy. We must ask ourselves what went wrong?

As I wrote last week – we can learn wisdom the hard way or we can learn by the teaching of scripture and lives of others.

As we read though 1 Kings 1-11, we read the story of this great king. Solomon was one of the greatest kings the world has ever seen.

Yet at the end of his life he made one of the most foolish choices that anyone has ever made, with disastrous consequences for himself and his kingdom. How can we learn to avoid making the same mistakes that Solomon made?

Born into royalty, Solomon starts well – we learn that almost everything he ever did was a success. He was a master builder – he built the great Temple, a grand palace, and the great stables for his many horses.

He was wealthy beyond measure.

Above all, Solomon was a man of wisdom, for this was the unique gift that distinguished him from all others, the gift that he received from God.

Solomon was the wisest man in the world—maybe the wisest man in history (apart from the Son of God, of course).

People came from all over the world to hear what Solomon had to say.  When the Queen of Sheba witnessed first hand his wisdom, his wealth, his palace and the temple, scripture says it took her breath away! (1 Kings 10:5)

Countless people have enjoyed his writings – Song of Solomon and Proverbs for thousands of years.

Solomon was also a man of prayer.

Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in 1 Kings 8:22-53 is one of the best prayers in the entire Bible, a model for thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and praise. I will review this prayer in next week’s blog and how it moved me while on vacation!

So, how did a man, such a godly and wise man fall into such disgrace?

He forgot his own teaching – “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

I am sure folks of the day would have said, “others may fail, others may fall, but surely not Solomon!”

So what can we learn?

The Christian walk is made up of daily choices.  The smallest of sins can grow and grow until we find ourselves in a bad place wondering how we ever got there.

Somewhere along the way we convince ourselves these little choices are not that bad, no one will know – God will forgive me.

I pray we all examine our own lives this week, are there “little” sins, bad choices that you are making that need to stop? Secret stuff no one knows about that you would be embarrassed or worse disgraced if others found out?

May you heed this proverb and never cease to hear instruction, and never stray from the words of knowledge.  Call upon the Holy Spirit that He may keep your heart true!

Until next time…  Keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog – ESV Bible, NASB Bible, Reformed Expository Commentary – I Kings by Philip Graham Ryken (I love this series!)

 

July 31 – OT Reading

Proverbs 4-6

Proverbs 4

A Father’s Instruction

4 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. “Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

10 Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many. 11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. 16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body. 23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you. 25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

 

Proverbs 5

Pitfalls of Immorality

5 My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may reserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house, Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one; 10 And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien; 11 And you groan at your final end, When your flesh and your body are consumed; 12 And you say, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! 13 “I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined my ear to my instructors! 14 “I was almost in utter ruin In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

15 Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? 21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.

 

Proverbs 6

Parental Counsel

6 My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have given a pledge for a stranger, If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth, Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids; Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”— 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.

12 A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, 13 Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers; 14 Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife. 15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.

16 There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

20 My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; 21 Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life 24 To keep you from the evil woman, From the smooth tongue of the adulteress. 25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids. 26 For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life. 27 Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned? 28 Or can a man walk on hot coals And his feet not be scorched? 29 So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished. 30 Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; 31 But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house. 32 The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it. 33 Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out. 34 For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35 He will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)