Bible reading for October 1.
1 Kings 3.
"Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" (1 Kings 3:9)
A WISE KING. Solomon considers the task before him and asks God for wisdom. Already, he is wise (1 Kgs 2:6, 9), but he asks for more wisdom to rule the people of God, now a great nation (vv 1-15). The wisdom God gives him would be seen in the story that followed (vv 16-28). The nation would begin to see "that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice" (v 28). One example of his wisdom that we might overlook is seen in his approach to worship. At first Solomon participates in the popular worship at the high place in Gibeon (vv 2-4), but after his encounter with God he comes before the Lord in Jerusalem at the ark of the covenant (v 15). He has begun to discern the right way to worship the Lord. A caveat: wisdom means being able to discern right and wrong, but it does not always guarantee the doing of the right. We begin this chapter learning that Solomon made an alliance with Egypt by marrying the Pharaoh's daughter (v 1). We shall see that as wise as Solomon was, he will nevertheless make some foolish decisions.
WISDOM. God created the universe with wisdom (Prov 8). That is, creation is marvelous in its intricate composition, both in macro and micro. All of it works together to show forth God's glory (Ps 19). Wisdom is distinguished from knowledge in that wisdom takes knowledge and uses it successfully toward an end. Sometimes wisdom is defined as "living skillfully." Rulers need wisdom to rule. People in business need wisdom to succeed. Parents need wisdom in child-rearing. All people need wisdom for ordering their lives. God's wisdom is supremely displayed in his son, our Lord Jesus (Col 2:3). The gospel is wisdom to those who perceive it (1 Cor 2:24-30). For the believer wisdom primarily means this -- that in the complexity of life in this world we are learning to discern how God's revealed truth applies in every situation, so that we may do the right thing. Wisdom is moral, that we might have our "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (Heb 5:14).
REFLECT. Solomon asked God for wisdom to discern between good and evil. In the garden of Eden our first parents chose to know good and evil without God, that is, in their pride they wanted to have this ability apart from God. They wanted to be autonomous, to choose for themselves. But wisdom comes from God, and like Solomon we should ask God for the wisdom we need (James 1:5; 3:13-17). Are you daily asking God for the wisdom you need to live for him? Why not make this prayer from Paul your own prayer: "...that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col 1:9-10).
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."
AN ETERNAL PLAN. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome (c. AD 60; Acts 28:30-31) to the church he planted at Ephesus (Acts 19). God has an eternal plan and purpose in Christ (vv 3-14). We who are in Christ have been part of that plan before time began. God's ultimate purpose is to make known his glory and grace (vv 6, 12, 14). The sequence of terms here -- chosen, predestined, redeemed, heirs -- recalls to us Romans 8:29-30. We are chosen "in him". That is, there is no election apart from Christ. All eternal, spiritual blessings are in Christ, wrapped up in him, accomplished by him, and given in relation to him. This is not arbitrary or capricious, neither is it based upon God merely foreseeing our choice. "Salvation belongs to the Lord" (Jonah 2:9), and God will accomplish all his purpose because he "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (v 11).
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION. Paul prays that the eyes of their heart (their understanding) would be opened to know their hope, the riches of their inheritance, and the greatness of God's power (vv 11-23). This is a prayer for spiritual illumination. The author of Psalm 119 wrote, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law" (119:18). The Psalmist, who is contemplating God's word, is asking to really see its marvels. It is one thing to read God's word, even to understand it, but another to feel its truth and power. That is what Paul is praying for the Ephesian believers.
REFLECT. We can become callous and insensitive in our study of God's word. We can even become bored with glorious truths. Have you become dull and insensitive to the wonders of the hope you have in Christ, your eternal inheritance, and the greatness of God's power toward you? Are you daily giving thanks that we who are in Christ are part of a glorious, eternal plan? Matthew Henry in his Method For Prayer turns this Ephesians passage into a prayer for us:
"Give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, that, having the eyes of my heart enlightened, I may know what is the hope to which he has called me and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and may experience what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, according to the working of his great might." (Ephesians 1:17-19). See matthewhenry.org/read/petition/3-14-pray-for-grace-to-instruct-you-in-the-things-of-god/
Image credit: photo of shore at Hvitserkur, Iceland, courtesy Huper by Joshua Earle on Unsplash. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.