Sermon series: Living Beyond Yourself
The world is searching for wisdom, understanding, and discernment. Many people do not realize this intrinsic desire is present in their lives. They spend their entire lives searching for something they cannot even explain, much less experience. The evidence surrounds us in the forms of cults and cult-like followings of celebrities, abuse of drugs, and the pursuit of fame and fortune.
We sometimes think of knowledge and wisdom as interchangeable terms. Wisdom is different than knowledge. The presence of knowledge does not ensure the presence of wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge.
How can we gain wisdom? What can we learn from King Solomon?
I. Solomon asks for wisdom (1 Kings 3:1-15)
By God's promises, the kingship of Israel passed to David and Bathsheba's son, Solomon. After David's sin with Bathsheba, the Lord rendered judgment by the death of the baby. Later, the Lord displayed His grace by allowing Bathsheba to become the mother of the next king. Solomon began his kingship by humbling himself before the Lord.
A. Solomon recognized the Lord's goodness and faithfulness to His people (v. 6).
B. Solomon humbled himself before the Lord (vv. 7-9) The Lord told Solomon to ask for whatever he desired (v. 5). The Lord promised to give to Solomon whatever he asked. In a display of wisdom, Solomon asked for wisdom to rule over God's people (v. 9).
C. The Lord was pleased with Solomon's request (vv. 10-14). The Lord promised to bless Solomon and His people. He promised to give Solomon those things he had not asked for - riches, honor, and fame.
II. The example of Solomon's wisdom (3:16-28)
Two prostitutes appeared before Solomon with a dispute over a baby boy. They each laid claim to the boy. Under the Lord's leadership, Solomon asked for a sword to cut the baby in half. To each prostitute, half of the boy would be given. The mother of the child spoke up quickly asking for the boy to be given to the other woman. From this act of compassion, Solomon determined she was the true mother of the boy. He awarded her custody of the baby boy. Solomon was praised for his wisdom. This is the primary illustration of Solomon's wisdom as a king.
III. The description of Solomon's wisdom
Solomon's wisdom, riches, and knowledge became well known. The Lord kept His promises and richly blessed Solomon and His people.
A. Solomon's wisdom was superior to any other person in the world then or now. (4:29-35)
B. The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon to see if all she heard was true. She said that what she heard was not half of what Solomon possessed. (10:1-29)
IV. Solomon's unwise choices and their consequences (11:1-43)
The Lord blessed Solomon beyond imagination, but he still strayed from the Lord's direction. The Lord warned him not to marry women from other countries or religions because they would draw him away from the Lord. Women were Solomon's downfall. He built altars to their gods to keep them happy. He even joined in the worship of these gods.
Solomon's poor decisions angered God. Solomon had turned from the Lord. As a result, the Lord would remove the kingdom from Solomon's son. His promise of keeping the kingdom in his family was conditional. Solomon forced the Lord to bring punishment to His people.
V. Solomon's conclusion (Ecclesiastes 12)
Solomon was granted divine wisdom. He diverted from the way of God and tried the to gain pleasure and joy from the world. He tried it all, but he concluded that where he started was the best way.
A. The message of Ecclesiastes is an overview of all the worldly endeavors Solomon attempted as substitutes for true wisdom and joy. He concluded that all these were vanity.
B. Before his life on earth ended, Solomon encouraged all of us to stay the course with Lord. True wisdom, joy, and discernment come from Him. (Ecclesiastes 12)
Solomon is telling us not to waste our time on worldly pursuits. The world will not and cannot satisfy our longings for worth, joy, wisdom, and knowledge. The Lord is the answer to our longings and needs.
Let's learn from Solomon's mistakes. He kept nothing from himself. He tried everything the world had to offer, but realized that God has everything to offer.
Additional sermon starters
The wise rebel (1 Samuel 24)
David had quite a following among the people. He could have easily taken the kingdom from Saul. Saul continually attempted to kill David. The Lord showed David the better way. Even when given the opportunity to end his struggle by killing Saul, David spared his life under the Lord's direction. This decision did not make sense by human standards. People would have encouraged David to kill his enemy. Instead, David viewed Saul as God's anointed servant.
What is clean in the eyes of the Lord? (Acts 10:9-23)
The Lord showed Peter that differences between unclean and clean foods did not exist in the Lord's eyes. His vision dealt with food that, by Jewish standards, was unclean. He told Peter to arise, kill, and eat. Later He used this vision to help Peter understand that Gentiles like Cornelius were loved by the Lord. Jewish traditions did not convey wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from the Lord.