Anything You Want?
Anything You Want?
1 Kings 3:4-14
When I was a kid, the show “I dream of Jeannie“ was a popular sitcom. And I can remember wishing that I had a lamp, and a genie would pop out… and grant me whatever wish I could dream up. And I could dream up some pretty good wishes as a kid… I suppose all children can. But it’s not just children is it.
Think of all the people who spend all of their rent money, their grocery money, their utility money… on lottery tickets, scratch-offs! Hoping to strike it rich... which is the modern day equivalent of a genie in the bottle. If you win that big lottery, you can get whatever you want, you can do whatever you want! All of your heart’s desires could be attended.
Solomon, as in King Solomon… had actually been worshiping God, making sacrifices to God, when something extraordinary happened. The Lord himself visited Solomon… in a dream, and God said to Solomon, “ask for what ever you want me to give you.” Wow!
Can you even imagine? God, the creator of the universe, the master of all that is, was, or is to come… basically offered Solomon a blank check! “Ask for whatever you want.”
I can’t help but wonder what you and I would ask for. I mean if God says ask for anything…
Do you think you and I would be noble in our considerations? Do you think we would ask for world peace... for hunger and poverty to be ended? Do you suppose we would ask God to heal all the children in St. Jude’s or other children’s hospitals around the world? Would we ask for a cure for cancer? Or do you suppose our thoughts will turn inward?
When Solomon was presented this question… When God said to Solomon, “ask for whatever you want…”, Solomon, asked for wisdom. He had the perfect opportunity to be self-centered, and self-serving, by asking God for things that would benefit only himself… But he took the opportunity to think of the greater good. So God granted him not only the wisdom that he asked for, but also riches and power and authority that he did not ask for.
It all reminds me of what the Bible says in Psalm 111, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” If we only truly feared the Lord in a biblical sense. Fear of the Lord isn’t trembling, like a coward, nor is it being afraid that God’s gonna strike us down if we do something wrong! The Hebrew word here is Yi-rah, and it means “awe” or “reverence”. So, when God’s word speaks of the fear of the Lord, it’s referring to a fundamental recognition, that God is the Almighty provider and omnipotent creator, and we are not!
Of course, when you and I come to that realization, that we are part of God’s creation, his handiwork… The natural result of this “fear of the Lord”… is worship. If we realize deep down in our hearts, that God is the Almighty, and you and I are simply part of his created order, then we’re blessed to know our place. And what’s our place? Westminster Shorter Catechism: 1st Question: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Our place... is to glorify God... to worship God, to revere and to praise God, bringing honor and glory to God, and to God alone. We’re the servants of God, and it’s our job in this life to bring God glory and honor and praise.
Of course, another thing that Solomon reminds me of, is that when you and I develop a healthy fear of the Lord, and we worship God, as he so desires, such “wisdom“ leads us naturally, to serve others, and to think of others before ourselves. Now... I’ll be the first to tell you this is the exact opposite of what the world does. The world proclaims that wisdom, knowledge, leads to power, and that power should be used to get what we want! Me, myself, & I.
Solomon, again, had the perfect opportunity to get anything that he wanted. God had given him a blank check, he could’ve used it for wealth and power for anything. Solomon used his wisdom to serve the people of God.
Of course, the Bible gives us no better example, of the proper use of wisdom, and power, than that of Jesus. Jesus literally had command of all the angels in heaven. He could’ve called 100 million of them down and imposed his will on the whole of the earth. He had the power to spare himself the pain in the agony of the cross. But instead he offered himself up, willingly, to die so that you and I might live. He sacrificed his own life for the children of God.
I think this story, about Solomon… from the old testament… not only gives us an example of the true beginning of wisdom, and wisdom‘s proper use… but it also shows us the outcome of wisdom. When we come to understand wisdom... beginning with a healthy respect of the Lord... and leading us to care for others as the children of God… we also realize that God blessed Solomon, by giving him the things of this world, that he didn’t ask for… because his priorities were in order. When our desire, our goal, is to use our knowledge and wisdom, to serve God, and to care for one another... instead of doting on ourselves... God blesses us in ways, we could’ve never expected.
Now listen; don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that if you do God’s will, you’re gonna become rich and powerful in this life. You may. But the riches that we receive are not necessarily the riches of this world.
Jesus is the best example of this truth. Jesus certainly used his wisdom, his position, serve others and to glorify God. And what was his ultimate reward: he was stripped, and beaten, and nailed to the Cross! But his story didn’t end there… It is precisely because he was obedient to death, even death on the cross… That he received a name that is above every name, and all things are placed under his feet (Philippians, chapter 2 verses eight through 11). Jesus was given power and riches beyond anything this world could ever offer! And God‘s Word says you and I, those who are faithful, who, persevere, to the very end… Will be joint heirs with Christ, in the kingdom of God, forever, and ever and ever. (Romans 8:17)
Solomon asked for, and received wisdom. And when you and I properly arrange our life, when we put God first, when we get our priorities straight… God offers us the same.
What is it that we ask for? What is it that we truly seek?
Solomon, and Jesus, both remind us, that of all the things that we could ever hope for in this life… Wisdom should be at the top of the list. That “fear” or reverence, for the Lord, is the beginning of true wisdom. And, that in living that wisdom requires us to serve others, in the name of Christ.
Of course, the end result of it all... is that God will bless us… in ways we could never hope or even imagine.