Lesson two: God's Word must be obeyed by me.

By Barry McWilliams
Bible Story "The wise King who became foolish"
Bible Text: 1 Kings 10:23-11:13; Deut 17: 14ff

Theme: God's Word must be obeyed.

It is not enough to be wise or powerful or wealthy - God expects obedience to His word. Read 1 Kings 10:23-11:13

One of the wisest and greatest of the Old Testament Kings was Solomon. He was greater than any other King of his world. Solomon was wise and powerful and rich because as a young king he desired to honor God, but when he disobeyed God's clear commands, it brought ruin to his kingdom.

As a young man, who became King when his father, King David died, God offered him anything he desired to help him rule his people (which were God's people). Now Solomon could have asked for a great army, or much riches, or a long life, or great power and glory, but he realized that being a King was very important. He needed wisdom most. So he asked for that. God was pleased with this, so pleased that He promised him not only wisdom, but both riches and honor. He promised that if Solomon would walk in his ways and obey Him, God would grant him a long life as well.

God honored his promise. Solomon had the greatest Kingdom, He had great wealth and a mighty army and many chariots and powerful fortresses. God allowed him to build God's Temple in Jerusalem.

But he was best known for his wisdom in leading his people. He was just and good. He wrote books of wise sayings that we still have today, and still consider to be very wise. He knew all about the world, he knew science and music and philosophy. He was so wise, that men and women from many nations came and brought him gifts.

Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs. The Proverbs have a lot to say about fools. Fools are people who know what they should do, but choose to ignore that and do as they please.

(The Bible warns us that the wisdom of the world can actually be foolishness in the sight of God. Romans 1:20ff, I Cor 1:18-25. God's wisdom is given in His Word and by His Spirit. I Cor 2:11-16.)

Now God had made some very specific commandments to his people in the Word of God He gave to Moses. Read Deut 17:14-20.

God had told the people that when the time came that they were to have a king, the king must do certain things and not do others.

The most important thing he should do was to daily read the Word of God and teach it to the people. He was to read it every day and follow it carefully, not turning astray from it, nor thinking he was any better than anyone else in his kingdom or any less responsible to obey God.

The things he was not to do included specifically the marrying of foreign wives and allowing idols in the land; acquiring a great army of horses (especially from Eygpt), gathering great wealth for himself, or making slaves of the people of God.

God certainly knows what is best for us, and everything He commands is for our very best interests. Solomon probably thought he was making wise decisions - strengthening the Kingdom - with his expansion of the army and numerous treaties (which often included a marriage to cement it.) The giving into his wives on the idol temples may have seemed a kind concession to end unhappiness. He had built a magnificent temple for the true Lord - why not a palace to match. It is so easy to trust our own wisdom or compromise with the world's.

But Solomon, with all his wisdom, became foolish because he did not keep doing that which God clearly commanded, read and obey the Word of God. We know this because he did the very things God had forbidden the King to do.

Solomon did some mighty foolish things....

Because of this, God tore his kingdom into pieces, leaving only a little bit for Solomon's Son. All that Solomon had worked so hard to achieve fell into ruin.

It was not just because Solomon Disobeyed - it was because in disobeying God, Solomon himself caused the ruin of his kingdom. Trusting in himself, his army and his power and his own wisdom caused him to ignore God and God's Word as he grew older. His many wives brought idolatry to his people - His mighty projects made his people suffer as slaves and hate him for their hardship while he was living in great luxury. He even failed to teach his own son to trust and obey God. No wonder they disobeyed and rebelled against the new king, Solomon's son was even worse than his father.

Proverbs was probably written early in Solomon's life, before he succumbed to neglect and disobedience. Ecclesiastes was written late in his life - it's pessimistic tone warns against the wisdom of the world and perhaps reflects Solomon's repentance for his sin.

God's word tells us what God knows is best for us. When we disobey Him, we are doing those things which are not for our own good. We may think we have good or wise reasons for what we do, but if we fail to obey God completely or deliberately go against His commandments, we can not hope to prosper. We need God's wisdom to guide us and that wisdom is found as we obey His Word.

Study Questions

Where did Solomon get his wisdom? What role did the Word of God have in that wisdom?

What commands in Deuteronomy 17 did Solomon disobey? How might he have justified doing this? How could he have avoided this disobedience?

What were the consequences of his disobedience and how was Solomon responsible for these things happening?

Two other passages warn us to obey God:

James 1:22-25 gives us this warning: Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. The man who looks intently at the perfect law which gives freedom (the Gospel message of Life in Jesus) and continues to do this, not forgetting, but doing, will be blessed in what he does.

1 John 2:3-6 makes it clear that if we are to confidently say we know Jesus, we must be obedient to His commands. Whoever claims to be in him must walk as Jesus walked. If anyone obeys His Word, God's love is truly made complete in him. (John 3:16 - coming to Jesus in faith is the way we know His love.) God is calling us to the way to Life.

© 1991 Barry McWilliams and Mission Church Fellowship, Hypertext Version © 1996 Barry McWilliams
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