Six or seven years ago I decided that I wanted to read through the entire Bible, so I downloaded and printed a Bible-in-a-Year schedule from www.heartlight.org. I put it in my Bible and checked off each chapter as I read it. It took me almost two years, instead of the scheduled one, but I made it. Having done so gave me a much broader view of the overarching story of the Bible than I ever had by reading bits and pieces before.
This weekend, I decided I wanted to do it again, only with a different translation. The first time I read through the New International Version (NIV). So I went back to www.heartlight.org and printed off another schedule. This time I am going to read the New Living Translation (NLT), and I am hoping to actually accomplish it in the year allotted, but time will tell.
I started last night with the entry for June 10. I know it was June 13, but I had a reason for starting at an earlier date. The assigned passages for June 10 were 1 Kings 1-2 and John 19-20. I have read John many times, and didn’t really want to start at the end. Starting today, the passages from 1 Kings are paired with chapters from Proverbs. So last night I read 1 Kings 1-4. (I can see already that this multiple chapter per day schedule is going to be a challenge!)
As I read, I came to this passage in 1 Kings 3:
5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
6 Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”
I marveled at the wonder of God that this would be the passage I would start with on the first night of my new reading plan. I am familiar with this passage, and was even talking with my son about it on our way to his youth group meeting, which was before I sat down to read this. But I had forgotten that it was located in 1 Kings and so was not expecting it as I read. Especially after the blood and gore of chapters 1 and 2, where Solomon becomes King in place of his older brother Adonijah.
For the past few weeks, as I have done off and on over the years, I have prayed each morning for wisdom for my day and for certain situations that I knew I would face. In answer to that prayer, God has granted me His wisdom for how to handle what has come my way. I have not always heeded that wisdom, though most times I have. And when I have, the result has been good. When I haven’t, I’ve had to do a little backpedaling to set things right. Then just today I was reading another blog about how Solomon didn’t always heed God’s wisdom either.
What I find interesting about this passage is God’s response when Solomon humbly prays just for wisdom. God gave Solomon wisdom as he asked, but He gave the king so much more. God gave him wealth, fame, and power greater than any other king had known or will ever know. I have experienced a small bit of the same myself. As I have prayed just for wisdom, God has granted me blessings right and left. I do not have wealth, fame, and power greater than any other, but I have received unexpected blessings that I did not ask for. They are as varied as a new best friend, a wonderful group of blogging buddies, changes at work that have reduced stress and changed the focus of what I do to quality instead of quantity, and (silly as it may sound) front row tickets to my favorite Christian rock band Third Day.
But what occurs to me in thinking about all of this is that I must avoid the temptation to start relying on the blessings and overindulging in and trusting the good things God has blessed me with. Solomon fell into this trap with his 900 wives and concubines and a myriad of other sins. When he was old, he returned to the things of God and the wisdom he had received. My challenge is to stay focused on the wisdom of God and to always remember that the blessings are just that and are only mine because God has granted them to me for now.