INTRODUCTION TO JULY LESSONS
Sometimes common sense is not so common. The kings of Israel and Judah often jettisoned God’s common sense. A few good kings and godly prophets called for reforms in God’s troubled kingdom. Students will learn to embrace God’s wisdom, pray earnestly for revival, witness God’s miracles, and avoid the heartache of disobedience.
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Unit: History of Israel (1-2 Kings; 2 Chronicles)
Theme: A Troubled Kingdom
Lesson Text: 2 Chronicles 1:7-13; 9:1-8, 22-24
Supplemental Text: Proverbs 1-3; 1 Kings 4:29-34
Aim: Embrace wisdom and knowledge, find God’s pleasure.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_July4_2021
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By Mark Scott
The founders of the United States prayed for wisdom. Pastor William Rogers prayed the following at the Constitutional Convention on July 4, 1787: “Be Thou their wisdom and their strength.” On this Independence Day, our nation’s 245th birthday, praying for wisdom is still more than a good idea (James 1:5). And it should not just be when times are hard. King Solomon prayed such a prayer at the zenith of Israel.
The Request for Wisdom
2 Chronicles 1:7-13
David had died (1 Chronicles 29:28), and Solomon was now king. Solomon’s request for wisdom came while he was worshipping the Lord. He had gone to Gibeon (site of the tent of meeting). Solomon’s request for wisdom came within the context of the new king offering a thousand burnt offerings (2 Chronicles 1:6).
God took the initiative. He appeared to Solomon in a dream (1 Kings 3:5) and challenged him to ask (inquire, beg, or request) for whatever he wanted (cf. Matthew 7:7-11). Solomon acknowledged God’s greatness before requesting anything. He acknowledged God’s great kindness (loyal love) that he had shown to his father and God’s grace and promise (word) in making him king to govern a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.
But then came the big ask. Solomon requested wisdom (ethical and religious prudence) and knowledge (cognition that shows up in street smarts)—words that appear 11 times in our printed text. The request was not selfish or turned inward. The purpose of this wisdom was for leading the people (being able to go in and out among them) and for governing (ruling or judging) them.
Here is a stunning truth: God answers prayer. God underlined the sanctity of Solomon’s request by highlighting five things Solomon did not request (wealth, possessions, honor, death of your enemies—the lives of those who hate you—and long life). As a bonus for such a pure request, God granted Solomon the wealth, possessions, and honor he did not request. In fact, God gave Solomon most impressive gifts (2 Chronicles 1:14-17; cf. 1 Kings 4:29-34).
The Demonstration of Wisdom
2 Chronicles 9:1-8
Several years had transpired between chapter 1 and chapter 9. During that time, Solomon built and dedicated the temple. The word on the street was Solomon was healthy, wealthy, and wise. Word of his fame spread 1,200 miles into southwestern Arabia. So, the unnamed queen of Sheba journeyed to Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions (riddles or proverbs). The queen sweetened the state visit by bringing a very great caravan. Her camels carried spices, gold, and gems. The queen peppered Solomon with questions (words) and told him everything on her mind.
In a word, she was overwhelmed. Nothing was too hard (hidden) for Solomon. With amazement, she noticed seven things: Solomon’s wisdom, his palace, his food (good quality and in abundance), his officials, servants, cupbearers, and his burnt offerings (1 Kings 10:4-5). She admitted what she had heard (the word) in her country about Solomon was true. She admitted that she had to see it with her own eyes. She admitted that Solomon’s fame far exceeded the report she had heard.
The queen remarked how happy the people and the officials must be to experience Solomon’s wisdom. Then this pagan queen did something remarkable. She praised Solomon’s God. She took note of how Solomon’s God had delighted (took pleasure) in him and had placed him on the throne of Israel. She could see that Solomon’s God loved Israel and had the desire to uphold them forever through Solomon’s ministry of justice and righteousness.
The Reward of Wisdom
2 Chronicles 9:22-24
The queen was so impressed with Solomon’s wisdom that she gave him all kinds of gold and goods. This created a domino effect. Other kings followed the queen’s lead (2 Chronicles 9:9-21). God’s promise to bless Solomon with wealth and possessions came via pagan kings and their kingdoms. The result? Solomon was greater (excelled) in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.
All the kings of the earth wanted in on what the queen had experienced. They sought to hear (to be in the presence of) the great king. They wanted to know what God had put in his heart. Solomon’s wealth grew exponentially as the kings of the earth kept taking their gifts to Jerusalem year after year.
The Continental Congress could well have become the “contentious congress” were it not for praying for wisdom.