Bible Passage: 1 Kings 3:5-12
Pastor: Pastor Berg
Sermon Date: July 30, 2017
Once upon a time, there were three friends who ended up stranded on a deserted island. They tried and tried to find a way off the island, but to no avail. They resolved themselves to the fact that they were going to be stuck there the rest of their lives, when one day a genie appeared to them. He said that he’d grant each of them one wish. They could ask for anything. The first man took no time at all. He immediately wished that he could be back with his family and “poof,” he was gone. The second man also took no time to decide. He wished he could be in Paris so that he could start his life over and “poof,” he was gone. The third man, however, had a really hard time with it. He thought and thought and he thought what he should wish for. And as he pondered, he looked around the island and he realized how lonely he was. And he muttered to himself, “I wish my two friends were back here with me.”
Perhaps you felt a twinge of envy this morning as you heard the Lᴏʀᴅ say to Solomon, “Ask for whatever I may give to you.” Perhaps the thought flitted through your mind, even if just for a moment, “I wish God would give me the same option.” But do you believe that you would have made a similar choice? Or you would have been more like the third friend in our little story? Can we truly even imagine what it must have been like for Solomon? Can we imagine?
The Lord appeared to Solomon in Gibeon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask for whatever I may give to you.” Solomon had come to Gibeon to offer sacrifices to the Lᴏʀᴅ. Gibeon was one of the chief high places where the people went to worship before the temple was built. In fact, David has moved the altar and the tabernacle to Gibeon after he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It was here at Gibeon that Solomon had invited all of Israel to come. Here, Solomon sacrificed 1000 burnt offerings on the altar. It was clear that the Lᴏʀᴅ was pleased with Solomon, for on that very night he appeared to him in a dream and gave him that blank check. So how did Solomon respond? Solomon said, “You have shown great mercy and faithfulness to your servant, my father David, just as he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and uprightness of heart toward you. You have shown this great mercy and faithfulness to him and have given him a son who is sitting on his throne as it is today.” What came first to Solomon’s mind was God’s goodness: how great God had been to his father David, and how gracious God had been to him. He had chosen the young shepherd boy, David, to be king over Israel. As David dodged King Saul’s attempts to take his life, God protected him. Throughout the rebellion of his son Absalom, God protected David. God granted David a long reign as king of Israel. Though there was much warfare to establish his kingdom, many of those years were years of peace. But the biggest grace God had shown to David was to promise that the Messiah would be his descendant. What undeserved love God had shown to David. And those blessings were continuing. God had now granted David the honor of having one of his sons sit on the throne of Israel. This was the first time in Israel’s history that a son had succeeded his father as king. God was being faithful to the promised he made to David just as he would be faithful to the promises he made to Solomon and to all of his people.
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in the place of my father David, but I am a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is among your people, which you have chosen, a great people which cannot be counted or numbered because they are so many.” Solomon looked at the way that God had blessed him and his family and he knew God loved him. But then he took a deep look at himself. He quickly realized that he was certainly not worthy to be the leader of God’s people. What a great responsibility that was! This was God’s chosen people ! The responsibility of governing these people, of leading these people was Solomon’s alone. Solomon was likely only about 20 years old. Talk about being thrown into the fire! Solomon took an honest and humble assessment of his abilities and concluded that he was not ready and didn’t know exactly what to do as king. He even goes so far as to call himself “a little child.” He was a little child, who literally didn’t know how to go in our come out, and he was expected to govern God’s people, whom he describes as a great people who can’t been counted or numbered. He humbly recognized that he did not have the ability by himself to carry out the task that God had given to him.
So what would you do? What would you have asked for? Can we even imagine being in that position? Listen to what Solomon asked for. “Now give to your servant a listening heart to judge your people, to discern between good and evil, for who is able to judge this great people of yours?” Solomon chose to ask for wisdom in governing God’s people. When he had a blank check, when he could have had riches, when he could have wiped his enemies off the face of the earth, he asked for wisdom in governing. It was a selfless choice. It was a humble request. It was a practical gift that Solomon could use not just for his benefit, but for service in God’s kingdom. Solomon chose spiritual wealth. And how did God respond? What Solomon asked for was good in the eyes of the Lord. God said to him, “Because you have asked for this, and you have not asked for a long life, nor have you asked for riches, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but you have asked for discernment to reach just verdicts, therefore listen: I will act according your words. Yes, I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you rise up after you.”
Obviously, God was pleased. God was pleased because Solomon put God first in his life by putting God’s will first. God was pleased because Solomon sought to do right by God rather than by himself. And he granted Solomon’s request. But he went beyond just granting his request. He gave him even more than he asked for. He made him the wisest mon the world has ever seen and ever will see. And not only that, but the things he didn’t ask for, God gave him as well. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Can you imagine? Maybe we don’t want to? Maybe the whole idea scares us because we know we wouldn’t follow in Solomon’s footsteps? How could we possibly make the God-pleasing choice when we so often fail in the pitifully small choices that we make? It’s not for all the riches of the world that we turn down spiritual wealth, but for the paltry extra overtime hours or a little extra in the checkbook that we shaved off our offering. For such small things were are willing to trade away opportunities for true spiritual wealth. No, maybe we’re afraid to imagine because we know deep down that we don’t have to imagine what Solomon was faced with, because each one of us has been faced with it ourselves.
Jesus tells us, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.” It’s the same thing, isn’t it? When it comes to spiritual wealth, God promises that he will give us whatever we ask. Didn’t Jesus say the very same thing in another way when he said, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and it will be opened for you.” While it’s not an apples to apples comparison, God has given us a similar invitation. So how should we respond? Follow Solomon’s pattern.
Ponder this question. How has God been good to us? Just that we are sitting here today is evidence of God’s amazing grace. He has given us life and sustains our life. We are here in God’s house today! He brought us here. He sent the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament to bring us to faith and to know and believe in Jesus as our Savior and leads us to submit to him as the Lord and Master of our lives. He has forgiven our sins and given us the gift of eternal life in heaven. He has provided a gathering of believer here where we can gather regularly around his Word to be encouraged by his promises of love and forgiveness. He has provided two well-trained pastors to teach us God’s Word. He has provided a Christian School to help us teach our children about his love. He has provided fellow Christians to help bear our burdens. Need I go on? How gracious God is to us each day!
And like Solomon, as we examine ourselves we recognize how inadequate we are for the work God has assigned us to do. When we stop to ponder this, it is a heavy responsibility that God puts on our shoulders. We have the responsibility to Tell of Jesus’ love in our world. This affects people’s eternities! He gives us the responsibility of being a Christian spouse or child, of raising your children to know and believe in him and to live in praise to him. He gives us, as the church, the responsibility of being a beacon of light in this world of darkness, that each of us praises him with our lives in whatever task we are undertaking. And like for Solomon, it can be overwhelming. And so like Solomon, we humbly seek spiritual wealth. We take to heart what Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We seek the unselfish, practical gifts that will help us to serve in his kingdom. He doesn’t mean that we need to live as mendicant monks; he doesn’t ask us to forego all earthly treasure. He just doesn’t want us to value them more than the pearl of great price. After choosing spiritual treasure, God blessed Solomon in unbelievable ways. And he promises the same for us.
Can you imagine? Every day, God gives us the opportunity to search the inmost depths of our soul. Everything we do here on this earth gives testimony to what is important to us and where our heat is. And so with Solomon we pray: Lord, help me to be the best God-pleasing spouse that I can be. Help me to love my wife in the same way that you love the Church. Help me to support and honor my husband as he leads our family. God, give me the wisdom and guidance to best discipline my children in a way that leads them to praise and glorify you. Help me to be the example of Christian living that they can follow and imitate in their lives. Give me the knowledge to share your love with them so that they can grow closer to you in your Word. Give me the words to say and work through those words to bring people to know of your love in Jesus. God, give me the wisdom and discernment to understand correctly the situations that confront me each and every day and to handle them in a way that gives testimony to you. Help me to speak fitting words that will lead others to glorify you as Savior.
The most priceless treasure that we have is the Kingdom of God. We are citizens in his Kingdom and we serve him forever through Jesus our Savior. Friends, forever starts right now. Imagine it! Imagine that God has given you a blank spiritual check to ask for anything you want according to his will! Imagine it because it’s true. Seek spiritual wealth! Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and God will bless you in everything else as well! AMEN