One of the most popular characters in the Bible is a man named David. Remember, he was the young boy who used a sling and a stone to take down a huge giant named Goliath and eventually became king of Israel. Among other notable feats and talents, he was also referred to as a man after God's own heart. David and his wife Bathsheba had a son named Solomon, and when David passed away, Solomon became the new king.
Like all the other famous and beloved individuals that are included within God's Word, when we study their lives, we can also learn much about how God wants us to live. Their lives are recorded to be more than just a collection of exciting bedtime or Sunday School stories. These true accounts have been given to teach everyone no matter how old they are about the principles of right and wrong, and the story of Solomon is no exception.
In 2 Chronicles, chapter one, we read how Solomon sincerely cared about the people of Israel and how he loved God with all of his heart. According to historical accounts, Solomon had great authority and respect among all the governors, captains and judges of the region.
In verse six, we notice that he once offered 1,000 burnt sacrifices on the brazen altar and before the ark of the tabernacle, which was the same ark that Moses had been instructed to build 500 years earlier. In verse seven, we are presented one of the most amazing questions that God has ever asked a human being: "That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ask for whatever you want me to give you."
Can you imagine? How would you respond? I probably would have asked for the Powerball numbers or the ability to be invisible or something immature that had everything to do with me.
However, the response of Solomon was much more spiritual. He said he appreciated God's mercy on his father, David, and himself and was very humble with being given such a huge responsibility to lead an entire nation. He humbly asked if he might be given wisdom and understanding in order to be a good judge and to become a king that God would be pleased with.
Wow! I believe that God was impressed with this young man! Now listen to the Lord's reply: "And God said to Solomon, because this in your heart, and you have not asked for riches, wealth, honor, nor the life of your enemies or long life; but has asked for wisdom and knowledge so that you can rule over my people whom I have made you king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto you; and I will also give you riches and wealth and honor such as none of the kings has had before you, or will have after you."
In practical terms, when it came to giving a great answer, Solomon knocked this one out of the park, and in return he received one of the greatest spiritual and material blessings ever given. Nonetheless, this is not the end of the story.
Most will see this event as a one-time miracle instead of considering that God is trying teach us a personal revelation. To me, a component of this story is that if we plead for materialism more than we seek to have the character attributes of Christ, we have allowed deception to influence our heart.
We can have prayer journals that are wonderful, but I will admit that a good-size portion of my petitions are associated with financial and material blessings. Being self-absorbed affects our thinking and personalities, just like a pinch of yeast affects an entire pan of dough.
When our priorities are out of order, unfortunately we become less concerned about others, and this may explain why God does not always give us the desires of our hearts. James 4:3 reveals a sobering insight into the realities of wrong motives and a selfish attitude: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
Most if not all sins are associated with self-interest. Have you noticed we strongly criticize this defect in others, while often failing to recognize it in ourselves? God is merciful and wants us to understand when we are completely focused on him, his desires become our desires.
This is an excerpt from the new book "Convictions and Considerations — Encouraging Stories for the Soul." Visit billyhollandministries.com for more info.