Jesus: The Wise King For You!
Second Sunday in Christmas Trinity Lutheran Church
4 January 2015 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
1 Kings 3:4-15
Old man King David is dead and buried. His twenty-year old son Solomon is the new king of Israel. A twenty-year old! King! A daunting and immense task. Enormous responsibility.
Solomon better be DEPENDANT on the Lord to be a faithful king for Israel. After all, the Lord would use this young man as His servant to care for Israel. Especially for Israel’s trusting in the Lord for salvation and for Israel’s holy living according to the Lord’s Word. So the Lord appears to King Solomon in a dream and says: “Solomon, ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Wow! Wouldn’t you like to be asked that question by the Lord? Sure you would! You’re jealous that Solomon gets the question and not you! After all, you want many things. Tons of cash. Health. Long life. A fabulous home. A couple of Porsches in the garage. Power to crush your enemies. It’s all about you. You. You. You. Isn’t that how you’d exercise the office of kingship? Sure you would. You’d be ruthless in serving the self! For the sake of the self!
That’s why Solomon’s answer blows you away. He asks for none of those things. The young king’s request is: “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Isn’t that incredible? Solomon asks for wisdom! A discerning heart. Literally in the Hebrew: “A HEARING HEART.”
A heart that hears what? That hears who? Well, that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? A HEARING HEART that listens to the LORD and His Word! THAT’S WISDOM! THE HIGHEST WISDOM. Then Solomon could apply God’s Word to his own life and in his service to Israel as king.
The Lord was “pleased that Solomon had asked for” a heart that hears the Lord and the Lord’s Word. So the Lord promises to give Solomon that and even more. “Moreover, I will give you what you have not have not asked for – both riches and honor … And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Well, Solomon’s reign was magnificent. Israel enjoyed massive political and economic prosperity. Solomon established a vast empire. The borders of Solomon’s empire extended to the limits of the land God promised Abraham! In fact, the “people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore,” (1 Kings 4:20) fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2; 22:17. Israel’s GDP and stock exchange hit world record highs. Solomon accrued enormous wealth. He built the temple in Jerusalem for “the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 10:1). His judicial and administrative wisdom was world-renowned. A great nation! A golden age if you will. That hardly describes it. Barely begins to scratch the surface of Solomon’s reign.
He penned astute axioms that he put into the form of “proverbs” and “songs” (1 Kings 4:32). He never earned a degree in botany or zoology, yet the lessons he drew from plant and animal life surpassed in variety and in profundity of thought “the wisdom of all the people of the east [the Babylonians and Arabs] and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:30). He rendered justice in very difficult cases (e.g. 1 Kings 3:16-28). He displayed extraordinary executive expertise by dividing the country into 12 administrative districts (1 Kings 4:1-19). His fame was world wide. “Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom,” (1 Kings 4:34) including the Queen of Sheba who was “overwhelmed.” “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom,” the queen said, “is true.” She continued: “But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard,” (1 Kings 10:5-7).
However, Solomon did not use all the wisdom, riches and empire to the glory of God and for the benefit of Israel. Sadly, the more generously God bestowed wisdom and wealth upon him, the more Solomon turned away from God and His Word to false gods. Can you imagine that? “His heart turned away from the Lord,” (1 Kings 11:9). His heart was no longer a “hearing heart”!
His heart heard only the word of his hundreds of foreign wives. Israel was led into great sin. First Commandment sin. Solomon joined his wives in the worshiping their idols. “He followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites … On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites,” (1 Kings 11:5-7). He expected Israel to do the same. As if they could worship God and false gods at the same time. Or worship false gods and spin it as the worship of the Lord!
All Solomon’s wisdom – WASTED! Only sinful, selfish, idolatrous folly was left. His empire disintegrated. The once great nation (the envy of all the world) split into two hostile camps. His kingdom was torn from him. His successor only kept possession of the southern part (two tribes). Israel, for the rest of her history, continued to follow Solomon’s idolatrous example of having other gods.
God does take sin seriously. Especially First Commandment sin. Do you remember what the Lord said to Solomon? It was a solemn warning. We’d better review it. 1 Kings 9:6-9: “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them— that is why the LORD brought all this disaster.”
Israel was “cut off” from her land. In time God sent the barbarous Assyrians to subjugate and exile the 10 northern tribes. Then God sent the ruthless Babylonians to conquer, destroy and exile the 2 southern tribes. Israel was as good as dead under the sands of time. One of the greatest tragedies in the history of the world and the church!
This is precisely why God sends another … young king to sinful and rebellious Israel. Who’s that? That’s right, you guessed it. The twelve-year old lad Jesus! Everyone who heard him in the Jerusalem temple was “amazed, dumbfound and taken aback at his understanding / wisdom and his answers.”
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
So unlike Solomon twelve-year old King Jesus has THE “hearing heart.” The perfect one. The sinless one. Who trusts His heavenly Father’s Word completely. Who lives accordingly. Impeccably. Not for His sake. But for Israel and FOR YOU.
Then twelve-year old king Jesus goes back to hometown Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. Obedient to them! And then the telling remark by St. Luke. King Jesus, as He grows up to be a man, “increases in … WISDOM … and in FAVOR with God and people.”
Wise Boy King Jesus! The wisdom that He has and that exhibits divine favor FOR YOU is the wisdom of reigning on the Good Friday cross. His is the eternal wisdom of God that takes Solomon’s sin, Israel’s sin, and all your sin in His sacrificed and dead Body so that it doesn’t belong to you, Solomon or Israel anymore. His wisdom FOR YOU and for all is this: “I died for you. Your sin is forgiven. Heaven is yours. I give you my kingdom!”
In the Sacrament today He speaks and gives even more of His divine wisdom and shares His divine kingdom of God reign with you. “My body. My blood. Eat it and drink it. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” His wisdom is to forgive you! Don’t those words of His just amaze you? That He’d talk to you, a sinner, like that? Treat you so preciously like that?
Take Mary as your example in the presence of Jesus. Treasure His words of forgiveness in your heart. “Hearing hearts.” After all, Twelve-year old Jesus “increased in wisdom” and is the wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30 ) just FOR YOU. To make you wise for salvation only in Him in His cruciform death!
In the Name of Jesus.