Many of you may remember the 1960’s sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master. Eventually Jeannie falls in love with the astronaut and they marry. When we think of a genie in the bottle, we also think of wishes being fulfilled or granted. In I Dream of Jeannie, Major Tony Nelson is granted many of his wishes. Some of them good and some of them not so good. Often, in Jeannie’s effort to please Major Nelson, she gets him into trouble.
It would appear that the young king Solomon is being granted an opportunity to ask for anything when God says, “Ask what I should give you.” Wow! What an opportunity. Solomon could have asked for power, wealth, or position. Instead Solomon asks for Wisdom, “an understanding mind,” or the ability “. . . to discern between good and evil.” God is so pleased with his request that he grants him wisdom but also power wealth, and position. Unfortunately, Solomon would eventually abuse each of these gifts leading to the downfall of Israel, Babylonian defeat, and exile.
Questions for the Week
Consider journaling your responses to these questions:
Sometimes we start out with good intentions. But eventually—over time—we make dangerous and incremental changes in our life (Like Solomon) that lead to moral and spiritual failure. What can we do to wake up, notice, and resist these changes?
As David neared the end of his life, he gave a charge to his son Solomon (I Kings 2:1-4; The Story, p. 176). What were his specific exhortations and how do these words reflect what David had learned from his personal choices in life?
God appeared to Solomon in a dream and engaged him in the “If you could have anything you want” conversation (I Kings 3:5-14; The Story, pp. 176-177). What did Solomon ask for and what did he refrain from asking for? What can we learn about prayer from this account in Solomon’s life?
As Solomon’s wisdom grew, he was inspired to write and collect his sayings. According to Proverbs 1:1-7 (The Story, p. 179), what is the purpose and value of the proverbs and why are they needed just as much as they were in ancient times?
The Story (pp. 179-183) includes many examples of proverbs. What is your response to this collection of wise sayings?:
· What do they teach us about fearing God?
· What do they teach us about God-honoring relationships?
· What do they teach us about how to handle our finances?
· What do they teach us about how we use our words?
As the temple was dedicated, Solomon prayed and spoke to the people of Israel (I Kings 8:22-61; The Story, pp. 186-188). What do his words teach us about God? What does he ask for himself and for the people, and how can his prayer inform the way we speak with God?
After Solomon’s prayer and charge to the people, God spoke (I Kings 9:1-9, The Story, pp. 188-189). What promises did God give the people (“If you do this . . . I will do this”)? How did these promises give both hope and a sober awareness of their need to follow God closely?
At the end of his life, the wise King Solomon did some very foolish things (I Kings 11:1-13; The Story, pp. 191-192). What did he do and what were some of the consequences? How can we avoid finishing poorly?
As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:
· Ask God to help you grow in his wisdom.
· Invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to those things that may cause you to slip into moral and spiritual failure.
· Thank God for the wise people in your life.
· Ask God to help you become someone who can offer wisdom to the next generation.
Near the end of his life, Solomon was inspired by God to write a collection of reflections, the book of Ecclesiastes, on what he learned along the way. Read Ecclesiastes and reflect on how easy it is to focus on the wrong stuff. Ask God to help you identify what matters most to him and what should be most important to you.
Give a charge (some words of wisdom) to a young person in your life. Prayerfully identify one or two people that God might want to encourage through your words, meet with them, and share what God places on your heart.
Read for Next Session
Read Chapter 14.