Wise Guy – 2 Chronicles 1:1-13 – Pastor Joshua
Where we are in 2 Chronicles today goes to show just how important wisdom is in life. It is necessary to have both knowledge and wisdom, and we'll talk about the differences between those two later. They are vital not only for Christian living but for good and healthy living in general. This leads us to our take home truth, our big idea today. Worship of God demands living wisely for God.
We don't want to live foolishly. We want to strive to live in ways that best take care of ourselves but also best honor and glorify God. The question I hope we would all be asking ourselves today then is, “How do we live wisely for God?”
The first answer is, (1) We live for God first before anyone else. (2 Chronicles 1:1-6) Before any others in our lives, before our kids, parents, significant others, friends, family, coworkers, bosses and teachers, before even ourselves, we live for God as number one of our lives.
2 Chronicles is really just a continuation of 1 Chronicles. So knowing this, we can tell that these early verses of 2 Chronicles are describing the start of Solomon's reign. When the author, the chronicler, says that Solomon established himself in his kingdom, he is saying that Solomon is situating himself in terms of politics, strengthening military, building up the nation’s defenses and handling any enemies within and outside Israel. Solomon is taking intentional and active steps for establishing his stable reign.
The chronicler follows this up by saying the Lord God is with him and made him exceedingly great. This first verse is describing Solomon's overall reign in such a favorable light. There's a lot of details that the author is leaving out about Solomon's life but the point of Chronicles is not to detail his life like the author of 1 Kings does, but to describe the good accomplished through his life by God.
In verse 2, we get to see Solomon talking to all of the Ieaders of Israel: military leaders, judges, political leaders, heads of households. You could say, everyone who had a major leadership role within the nation was with Solomon as he went to the high place at Gibeon to worship God at the Tabernacle. We know that this tent/Tabernacle is the same one that Moses had built during Israel's exile after escaping Egypt. Though the ark of the covenant was not there, Solomon intentionally chose to bring himself and all of Israel's leaders here. Solomon found it to be extremely important to begin his kingship ceremonially with worship. The altar was still there that the master craftsman, Bezalel, had built and he, alongside the other leaders, offered up 1000 sacrifices to God.
The 1000 sacrifices represents both King Solomon's wealth while also at the same time portraying God's greatness and glory. 1000 sacrifices sure is a lot of offerings! Just as Solomon aimed to worship God first in his life, we too are encouraged to do the same. Just like anyone else, we have the choice to live for God first or for ourselves or for others.
We are never going to be perfect, but I hope that we could all learn steadily what it means to live for God first, before anyone else. And that as we live for Him, we truly are at the same time worshiping Him.
How else might we live wisely for God? This leads us to our second point…We live for God with wisdom and knowledge before anything else. (2 Chronicles 1:7-13) On top of making a priority of living for God first and foremost in our lives, we must then ask the manner in which we should live which is with wisdom AND knowledge.
After publicly worshipping God with all the leaders of Israel, God appears to Solomon. We know that from 1 Kings, Solomon is talking with God within the setting of a dream. He is sleeping when God appears to him and asks him, “What would you like Me to give you?” To that Solomon replies, “~well, since You have shown great and steadfast love to my father David and made me king in his place, and since you have made me king over an innumerable number of people as many as there is dust on the earth, please give me wisdom and knowledge so I can go out and come in before Your great people.~”
Solomon continues to shower praises upon God by naming specific instances of God's faithfulness and love over and over in his life. For example, Solomon recognizes that God is keeping His promise to David by building his lineage through Solomon. Only after all this does Solomon finally reply to God’s question by asking for wisdom and knowledge.
The difference between knowledge and wisdom is, knowledge is head smarts and wisdom is knowing how to live in response to that knowledge in real life. Having knowledge is knowing a bunch of facts while wisdom is knowing how to apply them into everyday living and actually doing it. Solomon knows he needs more than just a bunch of facts to rule and govern Israel but he needs to know how to do it just as much.
Then we see this idea of going out and coming in. This term was usually used in reference to military leaders going out for battle then coming back in. For Solomon, instead, we can think of it as peaceful and quiet governing since he is to be a king unlike his father David, who was known for bloodshed. So, Solomon is asking for knowledge and wisdom so he can peacefully go and lead this large nation.
God goes on to answer Solomon by not only giving him wisdom and knowledge, but He even goes on to give him riches, material belongings, and honor unlike any other king before in history and no one following him would ever have. Because Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead God's people, God was so impressed by Solomon's heart and desire to lead God's people well.
I mean, it really is remarkable! Solomon really could have asked for anything like Aladdin asking the genie of the lamp for any wish he could ever want. God is not a genie though. But instead of asking for himself, he was selfless and asked for a gift that would best allow him to lead and govern God's people for God and the nation’s good. God chose to honor that desire by giving him everything he asked and so much more. He attained wisdom and knowledge like no other person in history in addition to lavish and extravagant riches unlike any other person in the history of our world, all as a result of God’s extravagant blessings.
The chronicler goes on to say that after this episode, Solomon came down from the Tabernacle to Jerusalem and reigned.
Good knowledge and wisdom are necessary to living worshipfully for God, but even when we fail, God’s faithfulness is still steadfast and sure. All of us have the tendency to love and serve idols in our own hearts. Little gods and people and ourselves. Yes, Satan is present in this world and working against us but so many times I would argue it is actually ourselves that actually get in our way and stumble us away from God. Solomon was arguably the wisest person in history and yet when we look at his life story in detail, even though he had all of that knowledge, he did not practice wisdom his whole life. If someone like Solomon is unable to live for God perfectly, then what chance is there for us?
This actually brings us into the hope that we have in the gospel. As much as we strive to prioritize God as number one or live with wisdom for God, we are always going to fall short. Yet God in His great mercy and love, extends His grace to us through His son Jesus, who lived alongside normal people just like you and me. While Solomon was a great king, Jesus is the perfect king who fulfills what David, Solomon and the whole line of kings after them could never do and perfectly ushers us into God’s eternal Kingdom. Last week we celebrated Jesus's resurrection for Easter and it is that same very act that defeats our sin and death allowing us to live with God now and forever. This is how God has shown His faithfulness to us and now we get to respond in faithfulness to Him through living worshipfully with wisdom.
Living without wisdom can look like a bunch of things. But we should strive towards wisdom and knowledge because even as we may struggle to prioritize God and live in step with His wisdom, God is still faithful to us time and again. He shows us that living in this way, the way of living wisely, really is the best way for life.
God does not demand perfection, but would we all try our best to live in His knowledge and wisdom because worship of God demands living wisely for God.
Praise Songs: Worship The King, Here I Am To Worship, Sovereign Over Us, Doxology, Forever