If I had been alive in the times of the ‘Old Testament Kings’ then I certainly would have wanted to live under Solomon’s reign.
After years of desert wanderings and bloody battles, the Israelites were at peace – a peace that was to last the lifetime of King Solomon. The ‘land of milk and honey’ opened up before them as a spacious and beautiful place.
Families and communities thrived on the fertile slopes of this gentle landscape under Solomon’s wise rule, a displaced people finding home, identity and ‘happiness’ in the simplicity of ordinary life beyond conflict.
During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree.
2 Kings 4, 25.
Life is pretty good for Solomon too. He has an extravagant allowance of provisions from his subjects; his reputation as a man of wisdom is now growing internationally and he has extended his academic knowledge and skills to literature, botany and zoology.
If you have been following the stories of the Old Testament Kings so far, you will know that God had appeared to Solomon one night in a dream at the beginning of his reign and posed this question: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you”.
It seems that God had already predicted possible answers, ( 1 Kings 3, 10)
but was delighted with Solomon’s response to ask for wisdom and discernment in ruling.
Solomon had understood the dichotomy of the choice facing him: God’s way or his; personal happiness versus the greater good of his people; a long life or a life lived well.
I’m always astonished (shouldn’t be really) at how often the stories of our lives are made or broken by this same choice.
It takes courage to walk away from material success in favour of God’s plan for our lives.
It takes sacrifice to choose to serve others’ needs over our own.
It takes the insight of God’s Holy Spirit to sift out truth from lies in the murky depths of our own hearts till we stare down this same choice in the fine detail of our own unfolding stories.
God was so pleased with Solomon’s response that he also blessed him with prosperity, longevity and peace.
It’s almost as if God has created a completely new set for the stage. Different music, lighting, script. Gone are the dark, gloomy back-drops and battle props. Civilisation has been ushered in with a few masterly strokes.
God brought Solomon into a ‘spacious place’ with everything that this creative soul needed to be creative, to build a temple fit for God’s dwelling place.
God walks with us as individually created, unique human beings, in the diverse places we live in and with the people He calls us to minister to. We are ‘one of a kind’ versions of human life, crafted carefully by God and capable of fulfilling the purposes God intended.
The life that God wants us to live is perhaps more within our reach than we imagine.
I often find that when I pray for direction in my life, there is an element of fantasy in how I imagine God may lead me into a ‘special’ and noteworthy role. But in reality God has placed within my heart all the wisdom, understanding and knowledge required and has brought me to a place where the circumstances and resources are exactly right for just doing the thing in front of me, God’s will for now, for this season.