2 Chronicles 1:1-13 (Part 2) – Earthly Fame & Fortune: It’s Not Eternal!

Posted: July 2, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 1:1-13 (Part 2 of 2)

Solomon Asks for Wisdom

Opening Illustration/Comments

You hear it all the time. We hear stories of those who have won the lottery’s biggest jackpots. Sure, you’re probably thinking that if you won the $700 million Powerball, you’d run straight to a financial planner and invest everything that you got to keep after taxes, but maybe you’d just buy one nice thing first. A luxury car you’ve always dreamed about — or a mansion! One common theme of people who win the lottery and then lose it all is that that one nice bag turns into a spending spree on any number of legal (and illegal) items. But some people find themselves dogged by friends and relatives who found out about their winnings — which is why some lottery winners try to remain anonymous. Here are some horror stories from past major lottery jackpot winners:

  • After 25 years married to her husband Thomas, a woman named Denise Rossi suddenly handed him divorce papers — without telling him that she’d won the lottery days before. Turns out that in her state of California, you have to disclose your assets during divorce proceedings, which Rossi failed to do. If she’d just been up front about her winnings, her ex-husband probably would have gotten half of them. Because she tried to hide it, though, he got it all and she ended up with nothing.
  • In a truly tragic turn, a lottery winner by the name of Abraham Shakespeare lost everything — including his life — after he hit it big. A former truck driver’s assistant, Shakespeare was a victim of his own generous impulses. He always tried to provide for the people who came to him wanting help, including a woman named DeeDee Moore. After offering to help manage Shakespeare’s winnings, Moore began stealing from him — and then murdered him in an attempt to take the rest of his money.
  • When he won $31 million in in 1997, the first thing Billie Bob Harrell Jr. did was quit his job at Home Depot and take his family to Hawaii. He then gave a lot of money to charity, bought lavish gifts for his family and friends, and donated 480 turkeys to the poor (seriously). The downward spiral started when total strangers noticed what was going on and started harassing Harrell for donations, and then he and his wife separated. He ended up committing suicide only 20 months after he won the lottery.
  • When William Post III won $16.2 million, the first thing he did was spend twice what his first annual installment was worth within three months of receiving it — and things only got worse from there. His bad spending habits continued, he was eventually arrested for shooting an ex-wife (his sixth ex-wife, specifically), the person who helped buy him the tickets sued and ended up taking the winnings, and his brother hired someone to kill him. There’s so much going on there, but it seems likely that the lottery curse has something to do with it.

And these are just a few of the horror stories of major lottery jackpot winners that are out there for you to read about. We all think that money and lots of it will make us happy. However, sudden windfalls such as the lottery often prove to be too much for most people to handle. That’s what makes Solomon’s request of God so remarkable here. It is just in our human nature, it seems, to be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. Most of the time, sudden riches are our ruin. Most of the time, those who did not earn their fortunes through their own effort drown in the temptations of wealth. Sure, there are folks out there that are suddenly wealthy or those out there that are second or third generation family of some company founding genius businessperson that do handle their wealth responsibly, lead quiet lives, are exceedingly generous, and stay out of the limelight. These are the exceptions though.

And, too, our society seems to worship those who are wealthy. Just look how fascinated we are with these reality stars that we have made wealthy by being voyeurs into their lives. We seem to have made celebrities out of people who have no particular talent. We have made them wealthy. We seem to care what Kim Kardashian does – why? What does she do to enhance the world? We seem to have a fascination with Snooky and the gang from Jersey Shores – why? Why do we care what these airheads who contribute nothing of value to society do and say? And then MTV seems to be about nothing but making stars out of young bimbos and studs of questionable intelligence for having sex drama in coastal towns and have their aim in life as how drunk they get and who they have been to bed with. We make these people wealthy and hang on their every vapid word and we make them celebrities. Why?

As we stated in yesterday’s blog, nothing on this side of eternity lasts including wealth, fame, and fortune. Then, that Solomon asks for something other than the vapor of wealth and fame is extraordinary and gives us pause as to exactly what it is that we worship. That idea of having our priorities straight is what came to mind this morning. Let us think about why that is as we read this first passage, 2 Chronicles 1:1-13, for the second of two times that we will we read through it and contemplate on it.

Scripture Passage

1 Solomon son of David took firm control of his kingdom, for the Lord his God was with him and made him very powerful.

2 Solomon called together all the leaders of Israel—the generals and captains of the army,[a] the judges, and all the political and clan leaders. 3 Then he led the entire assembly to the place of worship in Gibeon, for God’s Tabernacle[b] was located there. (This was the Tabernacle that Moses, the Lord’s servant, had made in the wilderness.)

4 David had already moved the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. 5 But the bronze altar made by Bezalel son of Uri and grandson of Hur was there[c] at Gibeon in front of the Tabernacle of the Lord. So Solomon and the people gathered in front of it to consult the Lord.[d] 6 There in front of the Tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in the Lord’s presence and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings on it.

7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

8 Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. 9 O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! 10 Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,[e] for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

13 Then Solomon returned to Jerusalem from the Tabernacle at the place of worship in Gibeon, and he reigned over Israel.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that God’s offer to Solomon stretches the imagination: “Ask, and it will be given to you!” (2 Chronicles 1:7). Interestingly, Solomon put the needs of his people first and asked for wisdom and knowledge rather than riches. Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions based on proper discernment and judgment. Knowledge, as used in this passage, refers to the know-how necessary for handling everyday matters. Wisdom applies knowledge.

Solomon realized that wisdom would be the most valuable asset he could have as a king. Later, he wrote, “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, nothing you desire can compare with her!” (Proverbs 3:15). The same wisdom that was given to Solomon is available to us because the same God offers it. How can we acquire wisdom? First, we must ask God to grant us wisdom. Second, we must devote ourselves wholeheartedly to studying and applying God’s Word – the source of divine wisdom for our lives. Solomon could have asked for anything. but he asked for wisdom to rule the nation. Because God approved of the way Solomon ordered his priorities, he gave Solomon wealth, riches and honor on top of what he had asked for. Jesus also spoke about priorities. He said that when we put God first, everything we really need will be added unto us as well (Matthew 6:33). Putting God first in our lives does not guarantee that we will have earthly riches and fame like Solomon had, but it does mean that we will have richly rewarding lives. When we have a purpose for living that comes from the wisdom of God and placing things of the Lord as top priority in our lives, we learn that earthly treasures are not the source of our happiness. That realization will lead us to have a contentment we have never known before.

Life Application

From personal experience, I know that when we give control of our lives over to the Lord, the last thing we give over is our desire for money. When we do finally give it to Him to tame in us, we learn that all the things that we cared about before begin to have less meaning. When we give up a desire for things and money and put God first, our priorities change. We really don’t care about being rich. I want to be able to comfortably pay my bills and take care of my family and leave them a little financial nest egg when I am gone. I no longer have to have the shiniest, newest things. It is just meaningless to me. My cars are 13 and 10 years old and they have been well-maintained and they still look good and get me where I need to go. Isn’t that ultimately what the car is supposed to do. Why does it matter how new your car is? When my wife and I came to the realization that the rat race of things and the debts that go with them is simply maddening, we decided to put God first in our finances. We got rid of debt as much as we could and live off of less than 90% of what we make – no matter how much we make. When we got off the hamster wheel and lived more simply, we have become aware that our money is his money and our first objective is to honor Him with how we use it. That’s wisdom that only comes when we put God first in everything including over our desires about money.

What is first in your life? If it is not God, you will never find wisdom. You will never find peace. You will never find contentment. It is only through submitting everything to His control, including our desire for money and fame, that we find those things. Nothing on this side of eternity lasts. Just like when you drive a brand new car off the lot it devalues at least 15%, everything on this side of eternity fades and leaves you empty.

Seek the kingdom of God first, not second, not when you have time, not when you make it to a certain age, not when you make it to a certain level of economic security. Seek His Kingdom first. The things of God’s kingdom last and have eternal value that never fades.

Amen and Amen.

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