Text: 1 Kings 3:4-9 May 12, 2013.
1) Lost art in the society: Compare to the society in the 1950s, we have lost many important social skills in human relationship and one of them is respect. There is very little respect in our society today, be it to government, officials, school teachers, parents and other figures of authority such as police, preachers, seniors of position or age, just to name a few. Few people, if any, still think respect is important. The misinterpretation of words like freedom and equality had misled people away from respecting each other. This leads to the deterioration of social order and chaos of inter-personal relationship.
2) Lost art in the church: Losing the art of respect has also become a problem in Christian circle. People in general today do not respect God, church, preachers and Christians as they did in the past. This is getting worse among Christians: Many of them don¡¯t care about God, church and others in the church. Some churches and denominations have left their position of respect in abandoning their treasured faith in God and his teachings but adopting the trend of the secular world. They have lost the power Jesus gave them to be the light of the world, instead they have become followers of the secular world.
WHY DON¡¯T PEOPLE FEAR GOD?
1) They don¡¯t want authority: People from very young age have shown they don¡¯t want authority over their life. They want to live their life ¡°their¡± way. Authority comes with restriction and loss of freedom. Since the day Eve and Adam rejected God¡¯s authority, human beings always reject authority in all stages of their life from very small to adult to old age.
2) They don¡¯t want to change: Many people, if not most, realize that their life style, goals, ways they live, do not measure up to what God wants them to live. But they don¡¯t want to change the way they like to live; they can¡¯t accept God and his authority in their life because acceptance means changes they don¡¯t want.
3) They don¡¯t want to admit: Most people admit they are not all invincible in all things, but they don¡¯t want to admit they have needs they can¡¯t meet and they need God. Admitting they need God exposes their inability of handling their life and that is unacceptable to their pride. They don¡¯t want o admit they are finite, fragile human beings. These people want to believe on themselves that they can handle everything in their lives.
WHAT IS THE FEAR OF GOD? (Proverbs 1:7)
1) Let¡¯s see the definition: The word translated ¡°fear¡± may sound better and clearer if it were rendered as ¡°revere and respect.¡± ¡°Fear¡± is not ¡°afraid¡± or ¡°frightened¡± here. God never wants any one to be afraid of him or to be frightened in his presence. But he wants us to show our reverence in our heart and respect in our deeds when we come to him for any reason. Yes, God is our heavenly Father, and he wants us to treat him as children to their father with reverence and respect.
2) Show respect God deserves: To fear God means to respect, to admit God is wiser, bigger, higher, stronger, more powerful and able to do things we cannot. This is a declaration of dependency as Solomon admitted: ¡°It is impossible to govern God¡¯s people rightly without the wisdom of God in him.¡± Fearing here is more than respect or reverence, it also means admission of our inability and insignificance and feeling of fear and trembling at the task he was about to take.
3) Commitment of trust in God: When King Solomon, declared his fear or respect of God, he demonstrated his complete trust in God to provide what he need to do his job as a king. Solomon also decided not just to ask God to give him wisdom to do his job, he also made a commitment to obey the leadership of God in his life and his work. This is the most difficult part for some of us to totally put our trust in God in our life, work, family.
WHY DID SOLOMON FEAR GOD? (1 Kings 3:4-13)
1) He realized he didn¡¯t deserve: ¡°Solomon answered: You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you, righteous and upright in his heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.¡± (3:6) How much we wish to see all our presidents would have this kind of humble attitude before God in their heart as they take the oath of office. We wish they know they don¡¯t deserve any of the glory and honor of being presidents, but acknowledge it is the great kindness of God that puts them in that position of power and glory.
2) He realized he didn¡¯t know how: ¡°Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.¡± (3:7) How many of us will feel what Solomon felt when God granted him position of great power and honor that he didn¡¯t have what it takes to do the job right. Too often, when God gives people position of honor, most of them feel they have all the know how, and they push God away to follow their own agenda, disregard God and God¡¯s principle. Let¡¯s pray for all those who are in high positions in our nation that they will admit their limitation and seek God¡¯s wisdom to do things according to God¡¯s will, not the agenda of their political gain.
3) He realized he needed wisdom of God: ¡°So, give your servant a discerning heart (wisdom) to govern your people and to know right from wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"¡±(3:9) Here we see the wisdom of acknowledging God and his ownership of the kingdom, the people, the throne and all it takes to govern the people. Solomon never felt that he inherited the kingdom from his father. He didn¡¯t claim to have all it takes to be a good king. He asked God to give him the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man, so he could do the right thing for the good of the people, not for himself.
REWARDS OF FEARING GOD:
1) A firm foundation of life: ¡°The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.¡± (Proverbs 1:7) ¡°Beginning¡± means ¡°the starting point¡± to build a house, the foundation. If you are seeking for a firm foundation to build your life, the starting point is to ¡°fear the Lord.¡± Getting to know the Lord, building a heart to respect the Lord, with a humble heart, listen to the direction of the Lord and be determined to obey the Lord. So many people built their life on the foundation of self, man, teaching of the secular world or even scheme of the devil, and suffer horrible consequences. We need to build our life on solid foundation as Jesus told us to in Matthew 7:24-27. Years later, Paul declared: ¡°No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ.¡± (1 Cor. 3:11) No need to seek anywhere else.
2) Gain the pleasure of God: ¡°The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.¡± (1 Kings 3:10) God was very happy to see that Solomon asked for wisdom to govern God¡¯s people instead of for ¡°long life or wealth for himself or death of his enemies.¡± (3:11) How often have we done something God is really happy? In all our life, we try hard to please people: our parents, family, teachers and classmates at school, boy/girl friends, spouse, our bosses at work, even leaders in our church. It is nothing wrong to make people around us happy, but that is not really important. One thing really important is if we make our Lord happy with what we do, how we live and sacrifice for His kingdom. King Solomon did something God was well pleased. What else we may do in this life that can make God happy? Think of it. What do you think God will do when he is happy for what you do?
3) Blessing beyond measure: ¡°(The Lord said): I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for, both riches and honor, so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.¡± (3:12-13) I am sure Solomon didn¡¯t have any idea what God will do when he asked God to grant him wisdom. God didn¡¯t just give him what he asked for, but much more than anyone may imagine. God gave him no others have ever had in his lifetime, way more than anyone could ask. Don¡¯t you ever feel that fear or respect God may take a toll on you, may cut into your freedom or restrict you in a square that you may lose what you can make for your life? Just the opposite: when you seek God and revere God, you are on a winning team.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) God ordained authority: God as the ultimate authority of the universe, he delegates his authority to certain people in human society to maintain order for the good of all people. The Bible asks that we respect, obey and follow orders of the authority because they are in position by the authority of God. Some-times, we may not agree with nor understand the authority, but it is for our good and the good of others that we respect them. This is true at home, in school, at work or in society. Christians are called to live under authority for peaceful life.
2) God, the ultimate authority: As the origin and ultimate authority God deserves our ultimate respect and reverence in all areas of our life. We need to show our respect of God through our mind, our thoughts and our actions. We shouldn¡¯t place anything or anyone higher in our hearts than God. No one and nothing may take that highest position in our thought and our actions. We also need to show God our ultimate respect by knowing his will and follow his lead. Doing this doesn¡¯t cut into our freedom of life or losing our personal endeavor. God promises to pour his blessings to a thousand generations on those who fear Him. Don¡¯t try to outsmart God, please.