Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.- Proverbs 4:23
It does not matter what the issue is, it can always be traced back to the heart. If you're like me you've heard this message before but today I'm going to share a perspective I've personally never heard but felt so strongly while reading and meditating on Solomons life in 1 Kings.
First, I'm going to give you a little back story but as always I encourage you to go a read it all for yourself! We are going to start with a brief overview of King David, Solomons father. David, though not a sinless man, was known as a man after God's heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He loved the Lord and desired to build a temple to God however God told him it would not be David that would build the temple but his son who would reign after him. From the time Samuel went to Jesse and anointed the young David as the would-be king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:13) until his death, he was constantly in battle. 1 Kings 5:3-5 says, "You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the Lord put his foes under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence. 5 And behold, I propose to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to my father David, saying, “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he shall build the house for My name.” These verses are a whole other message on there own but the point I want to make right now is that David was not able to fulfill his desire to build the temple however Solomon was. 1 Kings 3:3 says, "And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places." Solomon had traveled to Gibeon to offer sacrifice to the Lord and that night God appeared to him in a dream. Lets read what was said together. 1 Kings 3:6-15, "At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”15 Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants."
Solomon loved the Lord. Though there was prophesy that he would be the one to build the temple, it was never a command. He did it out of his love for God. Even when God asked him what he desired of God his request was out of honor and respect of God and his people. He wanted to serve God well by leading His people well.
Can I just make a small side note here about the goodness of God. He literally can't help himself. Like us He can't help but respond to love for Him, our love for Him. Solomon loved Him, walked in the ways of the Lord taught to him by his father and desired to serve Him. God responded to his love with the immeasurable love of God. Blessing like no other. Blessing that caused even the Queen of Sheba to bless and give God praise (1 Kings 10:9). We do not love God for what He can give but for who He is. His blessing is just a natural response to your love for Him.
God had spoken to the Israelites about intermarrying with other nations who sought after false gods. He warned them to not go into them or allow them to come in unto the nation of Israel or they would turn their hearts away from God (1 Kings 11:2). Solomon allowed another love into his heart, an imposter love. I think it is safe it say that it was an unquenchable love. 1 Kings 11:1-8 says, "But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— 2 from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon. 8 And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.
I've read this before but for some reason it wrecked my heart this time. Solomon LOVED the Lord. It was not the kind of love that in our day we interchangeably use for our favorite song or food or like- minded people we meet in passing. No, I believe this was an intense, intimate, passionate love. When you look at Solomons life and his writings it is evident that he was a passionate and intimate man. "But King Solomon loved many strange women", "Solomon clave unto these in love". When the word says that Solomon loved the Lord I believe he really loved the Lord. I also believe that with the same passion that he first loved the Lord he turned and loved all these women and gave them his heart. His heart was no longer perfect with the Lord his God, his wives had turned his heart toward other gods just like God had warned. Oh how quickly we forget when we are ruled by passion toward the wrong person or thing. Passion is a wonderful thing but can also quickly lead us out of the loving arms of our God.
I often hear the "guard your heart" message in sermons on marriage and sin but I personally have never heard it in a sermon on your relationship with God. I believe the reason the Lord is so patient and long-suffering with us is because He knows how easily moved we are. Thank God He has given us His Spirit to guide us and forgives us every time we turn back to Him and repent. Over and over through scripture we see how God draws the Israelites back into right relationship with Him only to be so easily turned away again. If you continue reading in 1 Kings you see king after king doing evil in the eyes of God and leading the people astray. The most amazing to me is Jeroboam. God split Israel and put Jeroboam over all of Israel except the tribe of Judah. And in his greed for power and control of the people and fear that they would go to the temple to worship God and be turned to serve King Rehoboam (King over Judah, son of Solomon) he made 2 golden calves and presented them to the people. He told them these are your gods who led you out of Egypt. And the people just said ok and worshiped them. It is hard to wrap my mind around this. The people are so excited about the temple and worshiping God and then just like that they drop the God that has over and over proved Himself with great signs and wonders and serve the very image that led their forefathers into sin against God in the desert.
Interestingly, Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, "That which has been is what will be,That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun." Sometimes I think we read scripture or hear bible stories and have a disconnect because the times we live in are so different but really they are not. Here in America we may not be under the leadership of a king but we can surely see how the same love of power and control is alive and evident in all of our governing bodies. We the people may not be so quick to worship a golden calf but we are very quick to flip our beliefs over opinions and ideas of others. Don't get offended because I am just as guilty as anyone else. The word worship means to reverence, bow or submit to, and to acknowledge dependance on. So let me present some very common "golden calves" I see present in our modern day society. President, senators, governors, mayors, police, medicine, vaccines, money, doctors diagnosis, CV-19 orders, mainstream media, pastors/ preachers/ priests, conspiracy theories, children, spouse, parents, friends, job, bills, denominational doctrines, and so many more. Now don't misread what I'm saying. I am not saying any of these things are bad. Is a calf statue made out of gold in itself bad? How about a deer or elk, eagle or dolphin? No, of course not but when it becomes an idol and turns our heart from God, it is bad. I am NOT saying our president or government leaders are evil however as we've seen throughout history and scripture none of them are immune to evil or the temptation to control and attain more power (because of this we MUST be in constant prayer for our leaders to be led by the Spirit and not lead us into sin. We must also be involved in this political arena so we know if and when someone is leading the people astray.). I am not saying your children or spouse are bad but I am saying that when they get your worship that act is wrong. When you live like your job or money is your source you are not worshipping God. When you remember the words of your doctor and wear them as your identity over the word of God you are not worshipping God. When you trust the president or legislator to fix the problems you face instead of seeing God as your source you are not worshipping God. Church, we have to be involved in politics, we cannot be flippant with finances, we need to care for our health and our loved ones, we have to go to work and be aware of the world around us but we have to keep our heart in check and not allow it to get into fear or confusion. We must keep our heart with all diligence fully focused on God and His word.
Every issue (good or bad) in life springs from the heart and is the fruit of the god you worship. This does not mean trouble won't come but your reaction to trouble will prove the evidence of your god/ God. Think about this our God is a God of signs and wonders. Throughout the old testament God proves that He is who He says He is by signs. He led the Israelites out of Egypt as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, brought unexplainable plagues on Egypt, brought down the walls of Jericho with the shout of the people and blast of the trumpets, a giant defeated by a boy and a stone, water springing forth from a rock, sea and river parted allowing His people to walk through on DRY ground, barren wombs opened, sacrifice doused in water burned up by God (1 Kings 18:21-40) and on and on we could go. In the New Testament we see Jesus proving who He said He was with signs. Turning water into wine, healing the sick, raising the dead, opening blind eyes and deaf ears, casting out demons and calming storms. Do you know He has not stopped? Today we have the Spirit of the same God and He is alive and active today in our governments and in our society and in our daily lives. He has been and is showing signs, are you seeing them, are you paying attention? The reformation led by Martin Luther, the Revolution in our nation. Have you heard the story of George Washington's miraculous protection during the French and Indian War? If not, I highly recommend the book Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton. How about the testimony of John G. Lake during the bubonic plague (http://www.geocities.ws/passionsurf/resources/JohnGLake.html). I have personally experienced complete restoration of my kidneys as a child. My kidneys were dying, they looked like a prune and a raisin according to my doctor. I was to be put on a transplant list and was supernaturally healed. I have been healed of seasonal allergies, car sickness, and autoimmune issues. I have seen my kids delivered of viruses and infections instantly without medical intervention, warts disappear, silicon tear duct plugs removed at a command, tumors disappear, wombs opened, cuts healed, teeth straightened and so much more all without medical intervention. All through scripture and our modern history there has been a remnant (God's people who have kept their heart toward God and not bowed their knee to any other). Those have always been the ones who led a revolution and were used by God to turn the hearts of the people back to Him.
Friends, I want to encourage you, you do not want to miss what the Spirit is doing! What He is doing right now, in this moment, in our nation, in our government, in our scientific and medical community, in our farmers, in our businesses, in our churches, in our families and in our hearts. You do not want to be on the tail end of those who only follow the signs or those who miss them altogether. Keep your heart with all diligence! Set your focus on Him! Love Him with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37) and be willing to put out and let go of any modern day "golden calf" you've been focused on, led by, or may be bowing a knee to.
I have many times thought about what I would have asked for if I would have been in Solomons shoes when God appeared to him in that dream. I always fell back to Solomons request, understanding. Today though as I thought of how many times I have walked away and turned my heart and thoughts toward other things to that request I would add laser focus. I desire understanding of right and wrong and for my heart to be so focused on the Lord that it cannot deviate to the right or to the left. When you look over your life and every time that you have walked away or even just been distracted were those distractions or things, or people worth it? Is there anything worth breaking the intimacy and love that you share with the Father? No way! No distraction is worth it. We need to keep perspective and keep our first love (the Lord) first!
Today my prayer is that of Elijah's. LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and America and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” Turn our hearts back to you Father! Let us lock our eyes on yours and not be moved no matter how hard the world around us shakes. You are our God and you alone will we worship! Protect the heart of our nations leaders. Let them be led by your Spirit and no other. Forgive us as we have given our nation over to those who do not love you. Stir your church Father and raise up your remnant in America. Let our hearts and our nation return to you. In Jesus name Amen!