Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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The Kings 11 – Solomon Strays

​The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord , the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. (1 Kings 11:9 NIV)

There are few episodes in scripture as tragic as this one. Here, in the 11th chapter of 1 Kings, the wisest man in his time who had enriched Israel and attracted such acclaim strays from God who gave him that wisdom with catastrophic consequences for the United Kingdom of Israel. 

It’s tragic because almost as reflection of the fall in the garden of Eden, Solomon strayed from God to follow the voice of women. To read of how Solomon went from acknowledging His dependence on the wisdom of God to rule, to following the gods of his wives is sad indeed. To have had such exclusive interaction with God and to be so greatly blessed by that relationship and then turn your back to that to pursue detestable gods is worthy of great sorrow. 

It is intriguing reading of the three gods in particular who Solomon pursues and then the three adversaries that God raises to oppose Solomon. It is also intriguing that Pharaoh’s daughter was among the first of Solomon’s wives and yet Egypt would prove to be the refuge for two of the adversaries – Hadad who came from a privileged refugee status in Egypt to oppose Solomon and Jeroboam who fled to Egypt after Solomon looked to kill him. 

The account given of how Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon is also fascinating. The account is of a prophetic encounter through Ahijah that let Jeroboam in on something that Solomon himself had been notified about. Namely the consequences of Solomon straying. Jeroboam being in receipt of the news that the Kingdom would mostly be ripped away from Solomon’s son made him public enemy number one. 

This is a truly tragic episode from which we see how important it is to check the state of your heart to ensure it is completely devoted to God. If the wisest person can be distracted to the detriment of his people, then we cannot think we are impervious. Obeying and following God is not a matter of legalistic obligation, it is a matter of the heart. When our hearts is not completely devoted it can lead to straying. There are plenty of detestable gods today which are well marketed and look for us to give them some of our attention. This is why it is so important to ensure we are wary of them and do not fall foul of the Lord by being enticed to serve them. 

God have mercy on us. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 10 – Reports and Encounters

​Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord ’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:9 NIV) 

Before choosing to spend money to watch a film at the cinema I value the reports of others. I consider them carefully before going to watch the film and my encounter with the film is adjudged on what the report suggested. More often than not the encounter and report more or less match. Sometimes the report was overrated in comparison to the encounter. Very rarely, however, will the encounter be greater than the report. 

The Queen of Sheba had received reports about how great this King Solomon was supposed to be, so she wanted an encounter to see if he lived up to the hype. That says a lot for the reports she received. So it says something even more significant about the encounter when her own report back to Solomon insists that so breathtaking was the experience, that the reports she got didn’t tell half the story! 

It was mind-blowing enough to consider his splendour and immense riches on display. It was enough for her to express praise for the wisdom and wealth. As well as that, however, there was also a recognition that this great wisdom was given by God for the purpose of maintaining justice and righteousness. Such a recognition says far more about Solomon than his massive wealth. 

It is great to be talented and as a result tremendously wealthy. It is far greater to apply the talent and wealth to enriching the lives of others and stimulating what’s right and fair for all. That can generate interest and reports that can be spread to others. As long as we are committed to doing that which is right and fair encounters with us will exceed whatever reports are made about. 

Here is hoping those reports will be spread that attract more encounters of the divine kind. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 09 – Remember the Covenant: A Reply to Prayer 

​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 on them.’ (1 Kings 9:9 NIV) 

It is good to know that prayers, as conversation with God, can get a response from God. He hears and answers prayer. After the magnificent prayer Solomon made on behalf of the people, God appeared to Solomon as He had done earlier to engage with Solomon’s request. 

The words God offers to Solomon are heavy in reminding the King of the same  story God has played out with the people since their days of slavery in Egypt. That story is about His faithfulness and compassion in rescuing His people and saving them for His purpose dependent on their covenant relationship with Him. A covenant based on mutual faithfulness. A covenant that God had stuck by in good times and bad. 

The people, however, were prone to wander. God knew that and for their sake and Solomon’s sake, He urged covenant commitment. He reminded Solomon of his father’s success being down to such covenant commitment. He informed Solomon that further success would endure if there was covenant commitment. Likewise God pointed out the consequences of failing to keep that exclusive relationship as the top priority. Where the fortunes of the people reflected the power of the god in other cultures, the true and living God would make it abundantly clear that the failings of His people  should they follow after other gods would not be a reflection of His success or failure. Their defeats and disasters due to disobedience would be a reflection of the justice of the covenant keeping God. 

Reading this sober warning at this juncture in the life of the nation of Israel is a crucial reminder of what real success in life is. For a people defined by God’s rescuing and establishing power, success is remaining faithful to that relationship. Remembering who we are and whose we are can save considerable  heartache. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 08 – A Magnificent Prayer 

​Lord , the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. (1 Kings 8:23‭-‬24 NIV) 

Praying in the life of the believer is essential. There is so much to explore about prayer on the personal and corporate level. The eighth chapter of 1 Kings has an epic prayer that is worthy of thorough meditation and contemplation. 

It is epic for good reason. David’s heart after God had compelled him to have in mind a house fitting for the presence of God. The tent situation didn’t suit him while he had his palace. If he was sorted, how much more should the presence of his precious God also be suitably housed. Though it would not be his project to fulfil it would be a suitably epic undertaking for the son who would rule in his place. So it turned out to be as King Solomon invested seven years into constructing the glorious facility for the God of his father. 

For such an epic undertaking a similarly epic celebratio was in order on its completion and dedication. On this occasion it is great to know a record of the prayer made by the king was kept in the records for us to peruse. 

As Solomon addresses God, His concern is not primarily about the physical structure. His concern is for the purpose of the structure – namely as a focus for the Name that had defined the people of Israel. For all the priestly functions that would take place in the structure, Solomon was concerned that it should be a focus and centre for people’s prayers. It’s a touching point wherever they were to remember who they were and whose they were. 

Solomon’s prayer did not cover contingency in the sense of ‘just in case something happens’. Solomon knew enough about the people and their history to know future failings were inevitable. Yet the concern was for the covenant keeping God to forgive and restore when the people realised their failings and turned to God. That degree of concern shows how Solomon also had a shepherd’s heart for the welfare of those in his care. This prayer was about the Name and the covenant relationship that urged God to remain faithful even in the faithless nature of the people. 

A particularly fascinating part of the prayer is for the foreigners. Here the point is not all about when Israel messes up. It’s about as God continues to be true through His people His fame spreads and not just the fame of the Name but all that goes with it. An invitation for people all around the world not just to be attracted to the centre but take the Name and character to those places so that the central focus will have a greater reach. This prayer is as much about reaching the utter ends of the earth as it is about the centre. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a magnificent prayer from which we can learn so much about the purpose of prayer personal and collective. Indulge in the prayer and see how it can impact the centre of your life with its far reaching impact for the glory of the Name. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 07 – Just The Man For The Job

​King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram,  whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him. (1 Kings 7:13‭-‬14 NIV) 

Travelling through the book of 1 Kings, it is fascinating seeing the degree of detail given to how the temple was put together. The precision detailed here provokes intrigue in how the construct looked on its completion. 

Reading this part of the development also reminds us of how the tabernacle was constructed and the amount of detail shared. There is as well a crucial element in the matter that also reminds us of that tabernacle. As Moses was informed of Bezalel and Oholiab, so Solomon recognises the need for a specialist to cover the bronze work. 

This particular specialist, Huram,  has an intriguing family background. His mother comes from a tribe in Israel and his father comes from Tyre. That is the same location that Solomon has utilised to get cedar and other workmanship expertise. He is of a mixed heritage that brings plenty to the task at hand, but beyond his heritage is the gift of wisdom, knowledge and understanding that he has to be able to craft such elaborate and outstanding pieces of furniture for the temple. 

Creativity married to a steady and precise hand leading to works of majestic beauty for the true King of Israel – God in His splendour. 

It’s great to know that God has specialists in various fields able to contribute to His masterpiece. That is the case today and believe it or not, we are those specialists with whatever He has given us. These are put in place to magnify the brilliance  of our Creator by doing and being everything pleasing to Him in how we treat each other and the rest of His creation. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 06 – Seven Years in the Making 

​The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it. (1 Kings 6:37‭-‬38 NIV) 

The wisest man took seven years to complete the building of the temple to the specifications. The details given in the two chapters outlines why it took so long to a degree. What is also evident is the attention to detail expressed about this project. 

Here is a task that Solomon saw fit to put together something truly magnificent for God. No expense spared, resplendent in appearance, majestic in design and cultivated over time to reflect the greatness that Solomon wanted to have displayed to the world. 

It was set to be an architectural masterpiece and Solomon was prepared to invest the time as well as resources to make that happen. As he did so there was the backing and encouragement of the Lord with him. This assured him that as long as he stayed faithful, God would honour the venture. 

We may not be architects, designers, builders or craftsmen, but there is a significant temple project that we are involved in – life. Solomon dedicated seven years to construct a physical expression of the residence of God. God has constructed His own physical and spiritual residence – humanity. He wants to live among us and in us. As we become aware of that desire we dedicate our entire beings to that lifelong project. We invest the time and resources to ensuring our lives individually and collectively reflect the fact that we are where God chooses to reside.

As His workmanship, God takes pleasure in crafting us to fit just right and be resplendent in reflecting that which matters most to Him – His character on display in the universe. Do not let today pass by without acknowledging this truth. If the wisest man of his time and beyond can see it worthwhile to take the time to construct something of such magnificence, consider how God is devoted to doing the same in and through us. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden