1 Kings 4:20-34 – The Hallmark Channel Chick-Flicks Teach Us Something After All…

Posted: November 6, 2018 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 4:20-34
Solomon’s Prosperity & Wisdom

In our culture, we have an investment mentality. If you invest money in something, you expect an increase in value or a dividend or interest on what you have invested. We often have the same view of the Christian faith. For example, if we are obedient to God’s Word (and not play theological gymnastics to avoid it) and tithe, there are those who believe that God will give us riches and prosperity. For example, if we are obedient and follow God’s call on our lives, there are those who believe that there will be no hardship or trials that will come their way. We often think that if we are obedient to God in whatever way that may be made known to us that God will grant us our wishes for a wonderful life with the storybook ending.

If you have a wife or a daughter, you do realize that right now this time of year is the “Christmas movie” season on cable channels such as the Hallmark Channel. My wife spent all day this past Saturday watching a marathon of these movies on that cable outlet while I was watching college football. The typical pattern of these movies is to me often how we have to come about our understanding of God’s blessings on our obedience. The typical model in “chick-flicks” films such as these Hallmark Channel Christmas movies is one that is quite often used in film. It is “boy meets girl/boy gets girl/conflict/boy loses girl/boy realizes what is really important/boy gets girl back.” That is often how we come about our understanding of God’s blessing of our obedience.

With that idea in mind, let’s read about the prosperity of Israel during much of Solomon’s reign as we read 1 Kings 4:20-34:

20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They were very contented, with plenty to eat and drink. 21 [a]Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River[b] in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south. The conquered peoples of those lands sent tribute money to Solomon and continued to serve him throughout his lifetime.

22 The daily food requirements for Solomon’s palace were 150 bushels of choice flour and 300 bushels of meal[c]; 23 also 10 oxen from the fattening pens, 20 pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep or goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roe deer, and choice poultry.[d]

24 Solomon’s dominion extended over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza. And there was peace on all his borders. 25 During the lifetime of Solomon, all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety. And from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, each family had its own home and garden.[e]

26 Solomon had 4,000[f] stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses.[g]

27 The district governors faithfully provided food for King Solomon and his court; each made sure nothing was lacking during the month assigned to him. 28 They also brought the necessary barley and straw for the royal horses in the stables.

29 God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. 30 In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 32 He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. 33 He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. 34 And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.

In this passage, we see that throughout most of his reign, Solomon applied his wisdom well because he sought God. The fruits of this wisdom were peace, security, and prosperity for the nation. Solomon’s era is often looked upon as the ideal of what any nation can become when united its trust in and obedience to the Lord. However, we must understand that prosperity does not automatically flow from obedience to God. Sure, God will bless us for our obedience, but it does not always come in the form of material blessings or a secure life.

Earlier, we talked about the typical chick-flick movie model. Let’s go a little further with that idea now after having read this passage. Our understanding of obedience and blessing often looks like that model. We often begin obeying the Lord just as the boy begins by being smitten with the girl and she shows interest in him. We obey the Lord and things in our life seem to settle down a bit and we go “hey, this obedience thing ain’t so bad after all.” So, we continue to pursue obedience and it has its fruits just as in the movie the boy gets the girl to fall in love with him. We see tangible results of our obedience. However, just like in the movies something happens. In the movies, the boy loses the girl at this point.

In our obedience to the Lord, it often is that there is a conflict that arises with our being obedient to the Lord. It is often that our faith is being tested by the Lord to see if we will persevere in our faith or give us on what God has called us to do. Sometimes, it’s a financial crisis that challenges your blessing beliefs about tithing. Sometimes, when you have followed God’s calling on your life such as being a missionary in a foreign land or even just something simpler than that where you are doing what God has called you to do, there will be a conflict with the calling. Things don’t go the way you planned. Things get rough. Then, that’s when your faith and your commitment to your obedience come into conflict. We often think that being obedient means smooth sailing (based on our own definitions not God’s).

It is during this phase of the Hallmark movies that the boy realizes what’s important as he does some deep soul searching. He realizes that he loves the girl and can’t live without her. He then realizes that what he thought was important was not really all that important and that love is the most important thing. It is then that he works on getting the girl back. And in the final sequence of each of these movies, he gets the girl back after confessing his love and his screwed up priorities and the movies ends with them arm in arm embraced in a passionate kiss.

In our obedience to the Lord, it is during these times of trial where our formula of what our blessings should be gets changed. We realize that God does not promise us blessings in the sense that we will be made rich by our obedience or that when we follow God’s calling that everything is going to work out the way we had envisioned. It is during this time that we figure out that obedience to God means getting our perspective changed. We begin to see things from God’s perspective rather than our own. We begin to want what he wants. It is in these time of trials that we are humbled and made more useful to God. It is during these times of trial that we remove our ego and just want to do what God wants for us. It is during these times of trial that we learn that our blessings from God are defined by Him and not by us. It is during these times of trial that we learn that we must align our desires with his. We learn to persevere and depend on Him for guidance more so than we ever have. That’s when we get it. That’s the blessing.

Sure, Solomon accumulated great wealth and security for his nation but that was just window dressing. It was his desire to be a godly wise king that God was rewarding. He was rewarding Solomon not with wealth but with the security of knowing that he was in God’s will. That’s the blessing.

Amen and Amen.

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