1 Kings 3:1-15 (Part 1) – The Danger of Being a Lone-Wolf Christ Follower

Posted: October 19, 2018 in 11-1 Kings
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1 Kings 3:1-15 (Part 1 of 2)
Solomon Asks for Wisdom

Haven’t you heard it before? “I love Jesus but I am not really a churchy kind of person!” or “Oh, I don’t go to church very often. I’d rather stay at home and listen to Christian television or radio programs, or listen to Bible-teaching tapes.” Others reluctantly admit to me, “We only go to church when we can work it into our family schedule” or “I go to church as often as I can,” which usually means not very often. While connecting with people, helping those in need, fighting injustice, and resting are all necessary things, we should not prioritize them above God himself. God alone is preeminent (Colossians 1:18). These activities should flow from life-giving connection with Christ and his people. When we make good things central we give them God’s position, and they become idols.

One of the dangers of not attending church and meeting with other believers can lead to what we find in this passage. Mixing non-scriptural beliefs with those that are scriptural. Although Solomon was a wise king and great king in the history of Israel, he over time played loose with his belief systems. We can do the same thing as those who love the Lord. God ordained in Hebrews that we should gather together as often as we can to stir each other up (Hebrews 10:24-25). And I am not saying that a church is a building with a steeple. There are churches in countries where being a Christian is a dangerous public proclamation where they meet in the night in people’s houses. So, I am not talking about brick and mortar monoliths that we construct here in the United States but the church in the sense of the gathering together of fellow Christians. And I am not saying that vocational full-time pastors are the arbiters of our faith because churches in China may have been started by vocational missionaries but there are perpetuated by part-time pastors with little formal education, if any. Certainly, the apostles that created the church as we know it were just common guys who had been exposed to Jesus Christ himself and were empowered by the Holy Spirit. So, churches are not building. Churches do not have to be led by vocational pastors. I am also not saying that it is not of great advantage to have brick and mortar buildings and to have formally trained and experienced pastors. That is great if you have those assets. What great things can be accomplished when you have those assets.

But what I am saying is that being a lone-wolf Christian can be dangerous. It can lead you to having what religious experts call syncretism. Syncretism is where you merge non-Scriptural beliefs to the doctrines that come out of the collective and cohesive source of our beliefs, The Bible. Syncretism will allow to consider, for example, that all religions are equal and that each is just a different road to God but yet at the same time read in the Bible that Jesus says blatantly that no one comes to the Father except through Him. And there are a number of false doctrines in our culture of tolerance of all beliefs that we can easily slide into when we attempt to be lone-wolf Christ followers.

So, similarly, we see the seeds of the same kind of thing in this passage as Solomon begins his reign as king of Israel. Introduction of foreign idol-based religions and modifying prescribed biblical teaching to suit the moment can be seen in the actions of Solomon as he begins his reign. These seeds ultimately lead to a fractured nation after Solomon’s death. Solomon is an interesting figure that we will begin to follow through the coming passages. In this passage alone, we see both the seeds of his downfall but also the seeds of his greatness as king. Today, we will focus on the seeds of his downfall that appear right away. In the next blog, we will look at his request for wisdom as the seeds of his greatness as king. For now, let us read this passage with the idea of mixing non-biblical with the biblical in mind:

Chapter 3
1 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city. 2 At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built.

3 Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. 4 The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. 5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

6 Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

15 Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet.

In this passage, there are so many things to see, but two things are of interest for today are the not so wise aspects of Solomon’s behavior. First, we see that Solomon marries a daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt to solidify an alliance between the two nations and ensure peace. Marriage between royal families was a common practice in the ancient Middle East and was a common practice among nations of Europe and elsewhere right up until the early 20th century. Although Solomon’s marital alliances built friendships with surrounding nations, they were also the beginning of his downfall. Those relationships became inroads for pagan ideas and practices. Solomon’s foreign wives eventually lured him into idolatry.

Second, God’s law said the Israelites could make sacrifices only in specified place (see Deuteronomy 12:13-14). This law was to prevent the people from instituting their own methods of worship and allowing pagan practices to creep into their worship. However, many Israelites, including Solomon, made sacrifices in the surrounding hills. This condition took the offerings out of the watchful care of priests loyal to God and opened the way for false teaching to be tied to these practices.

Just as Solomon mixed and matched what he was willing to follow from God’s Word, so, too, are we in danger of doing the same thing when we do not gather together with other believers and take a lone-wolf approach to being a Christ follower.

Why then is it important for us to gather together as frequently as we can with other believers? We are at a crossroads in our nation on the importance of going to church. According to research, church attendance by most research is declining while our nation’s population has steadily grown at a rate of about 2% per year since the end of the “Baby Boom”.

The “Church” never connotes a single, individual, lone-wolf Christian just going about his Christian duties, and never gathering together to worship with other believers. The “Church” by its very nature means multiple believers, who “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

This is both the Biblical and historical pattern set forth for us by the first followers of Jesus. They would get together weekly to worship God together, and at times even daily. They would also share community together in each other’s homes. Paul and the other Apostle’s letters were actually sent to these church communities that gathered in various cities to be read aloud together. Church means getting together with other believers to worship Jesus Christ, and hear the Scriptures together, and encourage one another in the faith.

And part of encouragement is accountability. We may be challenged by fellow believers and leaders about non-biblical practices that we accept as normal behavior for a Christian. We may get challenged about sins in our lives that we do not even know to be sin because Satan often blinds us to our sins. Part of encouragement is learning the true doctrines of the faith that sometimes fly in the face of culture. Part of encouragement is seeing others who are more mature in faith than we are to see how they live their lives and how they apply the doctrines of the Bible to their lives. Gathering regularly with other believers becomes a refining process whereby we help each other, pray for each other and encourage each other to want to follow Christ more wholeheartedly. It is a truly beautiful thing.

Let us take heed from Solomon’s actions here. We cannot decide for ourselves as lone-wolf Christians as to what we will believe and what we will not believe. We need Christian community so as to encourage us on to become more and more like Christ daily and to hold us accountable for the unchanging doctrines of our faith that spring forth from the pages of Scripture.

Amen and Amen.

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