1 Kings 5:1-18 – Solomon On Work-Life Balance

Posted: November 8, 2018 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 5:1-18
Preparations for Building the Temple

Are you one of those people that defines yourself by your job? Many of us men do that. Some women too but more so men. Are you one of those people where your job consumes your entire life? That’s where today’s passage struck me. And it struck me hard. One of the things that I am fond of saying when talking to people about growing in Christ is that our finances is usually the last thing that we submit to the Lord. However, after reading this passage, it kind of hit me that maybe our finances are the next to the last thing we submit to the Lord. Maybe, just maybe, the last thing that we submit to the Lord is our work, our job, our career.

Isn’t funny how the Lord teaches us something new from the same passage that we may have read 5, 10, 20, maybe 100 times? That truth that the Lord revealed today has always been there but it is only when your heart is ready for that truth that the truth jumps off the page at you. I know for myself during my 34 years in various accounting jobs from being an staff internal auditor all the way to being a divisional chief of finance for my last company, my job defined me. In a career that saw me having a steady and consistent rise in responsibility and pay, my work consumed me. When things were going well at work, the rest of my life was seen as good. When things were rough at times, my whole life was in a funk. Are you that way? Do you let your work define you? Do you let your work issues consume your whole life? I am not saying that you shouldn’t have a healthy concern about work. It is something that we do for about ½ of every waking hour of our days (when you include getting ready for work, commuting, and work and commuting home). We should give it our all no matter what. It gives glory to God when we work hard and strive to do the best that we can do.

However, when I read this passage, it struck me that we need to have work in proper perspective in God’s grander plan for our lives. Yes, work is important. No doubt about that. God gave us skills that we must use to take care of ourselves and our families and we give Him glory when we use the gifts He has given us. We can find fulfillment in that. However, just as with anything else, we can make work our god. When our job becomes more important than our faith, we lose. When our job defines the very fiber of our being, we lose. When our job becomes a god, it gets in the way of our relationship with the real God. When we let ourselves be defined by our job rather than God, we set ourselves up for a fall. We have to remember that though work is supremely important in our lives that it does not define us. We are defined by God. We are His child. Further, in God’s economy, our families are important too. When we prioritize work constantly over family, our families suffer. Remember, our kids are only small once. Remember, you only have one lifetime to share with your wife or husband. Don’t you know spouses that know from history that their spouse is married to their jobs instead of them? Your spouse and kids are right there in front of you. You have only one chance to lead your family. If you are absent all the time or are “not present” even when you are present, how can you lead your family?

With that idea of making work a god instead of simply a tool in our lives, let us read now the passage for today, 1 King 5:1-18:

Chapter 5
1 King Hiram of Tyre had always been a loyal friend of David. When Hiram learned that David’s son Solomon was the new king of Israel, he sent ambassadors to congratulate him.

2 Then Solomon sent this message back to Hiram:

3 “You know that my father, David, was not able to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord his God because of the many wars waged against him by surrounding nations. He could not build until the Lord gave him victory over all his enemies. 4 But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. 5 So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. For the Lord told him, ‘Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’

6 “Therefore, please command that cedars from Lebanon be cut for me. Let my men work alongside yours, and I will pay your men whatever wages you ask. As you know, there is no one among us who can cut timber like you Sidonians!”

7 When Hiram received Solomon’s message, he was very pleased and said, “Praise the Lord today for giving David a wise son to be king of the great nation of Israel.” 8 Then he sent this reply to Solomon:

“I have received your message, and I will supply all the cedar and cypress timber you need. 9 My servants will bring the logs from the Lebanon mountains to the Mediterranean Sea[b] and make them into rafts and float them along the coast to whatever place you choose. Then we will break the rafts apart so you can carry the logs away. You can pay me by supplying me with food for my household.”

10 So Hiram supplied as much cedar and cypress timber as Solomon desired. 11 In return, Solomon sent him an annual payment of 100,000 bushels[c] of wheat for his household and 110,000 gallons[d] of pure olive oil. 12 So the Lord gave wisdom to Solomon, just as he had promised. And Hiram and Solomon made a formal alliance of peace.

13 Then King Solomon conscripted a labor force of 30,000 men from all Israel. 14 He sent them to Lebanon in shifts, 10,000 every month, so that each man would be one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of this labor force. 15 Solomon also had 70,000 common laborers, 80,000 quarry workers in the hill country, 16 and 3,600[e] foremen to supervise the work. 17 At the king’s command, they quarried large blocks of high-quality stone and shaped them to make the foundation of the Temple. 18 Men from the city of Gebal helped Solomon’s and Hiram’s builders prepare the timber and stone for the Temple.

In this passage, we see that Solomon drafted 3 times more than the number of workers needed for the Temple project and arranged their schedules so that they did not have to spend extended amounts of time away from their families. This act showed his concern for the welfare of his workers and the importance that he placed on family life and keeping work in proper perspective. The strength of a nation, in Solomon’s wisdom, is in direct proportion to the strength of its families. Solomon recognized that work-life balance is extremely important.

As you can see here, even in the Bible, there are warnings about making your job more important than anything else in your life. Solomon reminds us that we cannot make our jobs our god. Yes, it is important. Each crew had to devote all they had for one month out of three. But they were sent home to decompress and enjoy their families so that their job would not become their entire life. I know that I let myself over my career let work become the most important thing in my life and still do. It still defines me but this passage convicted me. We must not have any idols or gods before God. I used to think that finances were the last thing we give up to the Lord. Now, I realize that often the last thing we give into submission to the Lord is our work.

Help us Lord to give work our all and give it as much as we are capable of giving. But, Lord, help us not to let our jobs define us and consume us. Help us to remember that you are God not our careers. Help us to remember that our families are with us for a reason and we are to lead them in the ways of the Lord. Help us to be present when we are present. Help us to have that proper balance of God-family-work. Help us to keep you are the reason for our being. Help us to let you define us not our careers.

Amen and Amen.

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