Do You Know Where You're Going To?
1 Kings 8:33 - 1 Kings 11:31
In 1 Kings chapter 8, Solomon offers a dedicatory prayer upon the temple. As I read, I noticed a pattern there. The prayer was filled with repetition consisting of two primary words ––“if” and “then.”
“IF they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin…THEN hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants…that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk.” (1 Kings 8:35-36)
“IF there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, …if their enemy besiege them…what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man…which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: THEN hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (For thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)” (1 Kings 8:37-39)
“IF they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)…yet if they shall bethink themselves…and repent…and make supplication unto thee…and so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul…and pray unto thee toward the house which I have built for thy name: THEN hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place and maintain their cause, for they be thy people…” (1 Kings 8:46-47)
I noticed a lesson within those verses. IF the people chose to focus on the temple…to pray toward that place…to spread forth their hands toward His house…to pray unto Him toward the house…THEN the Lord would hear, and forgive, and teach, and do, and give. THEN He would maintain their cause.
IF they walked before Him in integrity of heart, and in uprightness…THEN He would establish them. But IF they turned from following Him to go and serve other gods, and worship them, THEN Israel would become a proverb and a byword among all people.
As I focus on the pattern I realize that every choice has a consequence. With every “if” there is a “then.”
So I ponder my choices and the consequences they will lead to. IF I continue to walk the path I am on, THEN where will my choices lead?
Sometimes it is hard to accept the consequences of our actions.
I can’t help but think of Solomon. The man with the wise and understanding heart. Whose first choice was to build a temple for His God. The consequence of this choice led to great blessings for both Solomon and his people.
Somewhere after this moment Solomon began making choices that led to his fall. It might have been because he became fixated on foreign ideas. Perhaps the growing luxury became a weakness. Maybe his desire to emulate, or even outdo his neighbors caused him to digress from his original choice which had been to focus first on the temple.
We don’t know Solomon’s heart, but we do know this
––Solomon’s choices led him to a destination that started first with great happiness and ended with deep regret.
In the end he forgot the Lord.
Solomon, at first, obeyed the Lord and honored His law.
Because of this, he prospered and was blessed not only with wisdom but with wealth and honor.
If he continued in righteousness, the Lord promised to “establish the throne of [his] kingdom upon Israel for ever.”
But even after heavenly visitations, even after receiving blessings above all men,
Solomon turned away from the Lord.
When the people are righteous, the Lord prospers them.
Prosperity often leads to pride, which leads to sin.
Sin leads to wickedness and to hearts that become hardened to things of the Spirit.
Eventually, the end of this road leads to heartbreak and sorrow.
In every age we are faced with a choice.
We can trust in our own strength, or we can come unto Christ.
Each choice has a consequence.
Each consequence, a destination.
Joseph B. Wirthlin