2 Chronicles 36

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babyloniaPatience only stretches so far, even when discussing the patience of the Lord. As we have read through some 380 years of the people of God – from the start of Solomon’s reign to the end of the nation of Judah – we have seen kings rise and fall, with some following God’s ways (and prospering) – while most ignore Him and come to a destructive end. What began as a strong and influential Israeli nation under Solomon digressed into civil war and a kingdom divided – and ended with both portions of that once glorious kingdom being conquered and led off into captivity.

While 1-2 Kings and the beginning of 1 Chronicles deals with both the kings of Israel (northern section) and the kings of Judah (southern section); most of 1-2 Chronicles follows the circumstances of the southern kingdom of Judah (Israel having already been overtaken and hauled off into captivity by Assyria in 721 B.C.). As we have seen – despite the occasional good king, Judah failed to heed the warning of her sister state, and instead basically ignored God – leading to the same demise under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

The deportation of the Jewish people from Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar took place in 3 sections:

  • The first group of exiles around 597 B.C. during the reign of Jehoikim. It was at this time that Daniel and the rest of the ruling elite were taken into captivity – as recorded in Daniel 1:1-6.

  • The second group taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar took place just a little over 3 months later during the reign of Jehoichin (also known as Jeconiah). Esther and Mordecai were part of this group.

  • The final seize of Jerusalem – culminating in her destruction and the rest of the Jews drug into slavery (minus the very poor) took place 11 years later in 586 B.C. under the reign of Zedekiah.

God refers to Nebuchadnezzar as His “servant” several times in Scripture (Jer 27:6); and He makes it quite clear that the reason He raised up Nebuchadnezzar as leader of the Babylonian Empire was to punish His people for their sins. We must not see this as a rash decision on God’s part – but instead one which I’m sure He agonized over for years. His patience can be easily seen in the writings of the many Prophets, whom God sent to both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in His effort to warn them and draw them back to Him – to stave off what was sure to come as a result of disobedience. (In fact – it was Jeremiah who was serving in the role of Prophet during the deportation of Judah to Babylon. King Zedekiah, the final king of Judah, had a very cantankerous relationship with Jeremiah and is spoken of many times in the book bearing Jeremiah’s name).

Notice this set of verses at the end of 2 Chronicles:

And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent to them persistently by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God and despising His words and scoffing at His prophets till the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, till there was no remedy or healing.” – 2 Chr 36:15-16 AMP

God had been patient with His people… yet, despite countless warnings and pleadings, they ignored Him and chose to go the way they did – ending in their destruction.

(To read more about Nebuchadnezzar – go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_II).

But, as always, grace prevails… and God did not forget His promises to His people (for David’s sake). At the end of 2 Chronicles we are told that after the fulfillment of 70 years (as predicted by both Jeremiah & Daniel) – that God raised up another “servant” (Isaiah 45:1) named Cyrus – king of Persia. Cyrus had adopted a policy in which he respected the cultures and religions of the nations he conquered. So, in 539 B.C., the Persians destroyed the Babylonians – and the very next year, King Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to go back to their land and rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

(To read more about Cyrus – go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great).

So, we have come to the end of the monarchy of Israel – and have progressed almost 1/3 of the way through the Bible. Next we enter the books of Ezra and Nehemiah – which will tell us about the Israelites return to their land (after their release by Cyrus) – and the rebuilding of both the Temple (Ezra) and the Walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah) – both of which had been destroyed by the Babylonian siege.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 29-30

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revival… and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.” 2 Chr 28:27

Hezekiah becomes king over Judah – the southern kingdom, and within the first year he begins to bring changes to a nation that had lost it’s way long before (29:3). By the time he takes the throne – the northern kingdom of Israel had been ransacked by Assyria and most of the people (minus a small remnant) had been hauled off into captivity. So King Hezekiah, knowing the reason behind that happening, immediately set about to bring reform and return the people of Judah back to the Lord.

First, he has the temple cleaned out after years of neglect and misuse (vs 16). He has the repair work done and the temple returned to it’s former glory. He tells the Levite priests to sanctify themselves according to the law of Moses and prepare to restart their worship of Yahweh in the temple (vs 4-11). They cleaned the altar and all the utensils (vs 18) and they removed all of the vile instruments used by King Ahaz for idol worship which had cluttered up the temple (vs 19).

After that Hezekiah gathers all of the Isrealites (of Judah) together and they re-dedicated the temple to the Lord. They offered fresh sacrifices of repentance and sang thunderous songs of worship before the Lord (vs 20-35). This brought great reformation among the people and spread joy throughout all of their hearts – as King Hezekiah ushered in a revival by his quick action… preventing the same fate that came upon the north to come upon Judah (vs 36).

Once the temple was restored and the Priesthood purified and returned to their proper positions (having been outlawed by previous kings and relegated to obscurity), Hezekiah next sent letters to those left behind by Assyria in the northern kingdom (30:6). This “remnant” of Israelites had seen their homes and kingdom ravished by Assyria and most of their neighbors dragged off into slavery. So King Hezekiah invited them to come to Jerusalem and take part in the revival of worship to the Lord. (Notice who Hezekiah blames for the devastation that had taken over the northern kingdom… not God – but the stiff-necked and rebellious generations before them who had rejected the Lord (vs 7-8). Hezekiah knew that the only way to avoid the same fate as his northern brothers was to “turn again unto the Lord” (vs 9). Unfortunately – most of the people up north had long ago forgotten the Lord and his ways. They also had no respect for Hezekiah nor the small tribes down south… so they laughed and mocked the invitation from King Hezekiah (vs 10); although a few did humble themselves and come to Jerusalem.

Without enough time to properly sanctify themselves – the people all came to Jerusalem and took part in the celebration of the Passover feast. Technically, the feast is supposed to be kept in the first month and the people should go through a period of purifying cleansing before eating of the meal… yet God knew the state of their hearts and demonstrated His great grace when Hezekiah asked Him to pardon the people due to the situation. According to Lev. 15 – if someone approached God without first cleansing themselves they would be put to death with sickness… yet in response to King Hezekiah’s prayer – God “healed the people” (vs 20). This is a beautiful foreshadowing of Jesus.

So King Hezekiah brings reformation to the Israelites – and restores worship in a way that hadn’t taken place for over 260 years – since the kingdom was first divided (vs 26). He had seen the poor examples set before him by his forefathers – and was grieved by the godless society that had grown up around him. So he set his mind to bring change and returned the people back to the way they should have always been. This act by Hezekiah (as we shall see) stave’s off much heartache for the people of Judah – and brings the favor of the Lord upon them during Hezekiah’s reign.

It only took one man to lead the nation of Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord – diverting sure disaster for many years.

It only takes one man to lead the nation of the United States to repent and return to the ways of the Lord…

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 25-27

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3 Kings

 

  A good king is so hard to find.

As we progress along on our journey through 2 Chronicles, it is difficult to not see the clear pattern before us. Israel, the once glorious kingdom of God’s people, firmly strengthened under King David and then built into prosperity under Solomon, has fallen into complete rebellion and disarray. Divided into 2 smaller kingdoms – with Israel (also known as Ephraim) to the north and Judah to the south – we see a long lineage of kings come and go. While the northern Israel never had a king who did “what was right in the sight of the Lord” – it was the southern kingdom of Judah who occasionally had good kings who sought the Lord and ushered God’s people back to Him in revival. (That is why 1-2 Chronicles focuses mostly on Judah).

In 2 Chronicles 25-27 we see 3 kings highlights… with each becoming progressively better – relying more and more on the Lord and seeing the direct results of that in their perspective kingdoms.

Amaziah

He did right in the Lord’s sight, but not with a perfect or blameless heart.” 2 Chr 25:2 AMP

After watching his father, Joash, usher in a revival under the godly counsel of Jehoiada the priest, only to end up in ruin after that priests death – Amaziah begins his reign in a good direction. He “did what was right in the Lord’s sight”, yet the Bible also says that his heart wasn’t really into it. This is all too common – and proves that it isn’t the outward actions which make a leader – but the inward state of his heart (which will lead to his outward actions). While Amaziah begins well, the true state of his heart is revealed once he is provided the opportunity. Looking to other means for his strength (instead of God) – Amaziah seeks the assistance of the apostate northern kingdom… incurring the wrath of God as a result. Despite victory in battle, Amaziah’s troublesome heart continues to get in his way – eventually leading him to make an unwise decision – culminating in his humiliating defeat.

Uzziah

He did right in the Lord’s sight, to the extent of all that his father Amaziah had done.”2 Chr 26:4 AMP

Like his father, Uzziah also began his reign on the right foot… but notice how the Word tells us that he only did it “to the extent that his father had done”. Children learn how to love the Lord and obey His Word from their parents. That is how it was back then and that is still how it is today (for good or bad)! Uzziah had his father as his example… and he began by doing what was right in God’s sight. With Zechariah the priest at his side as counsel – Uzziah “set himself to seek God” and the result of that correct heart was “as long as he sought (inquired of, yearned for) the Lord, God made him prosper”. (2 Chr 26:5). BUT – they say power corrupts, and what began in the right direction – ended in misery for this king as well. Once he became strong, he turned away from the very One who had brought his strength – ignoring the counsel before him – and straying outside of his boundaries. This brought disease upon him (as disobedience does) and ended his life in darkness. In the end – good king Uzziah wasn’t even buried in the tombs of his fathers – but in a field outside of the city as a leper.

Jotham

He did right in the sight of the Lord, to the extent of all that his father Uzziah had done. However, he did not invade the temple of the Lord…”2 Chr 27:2 AMP

As a child, I am sure young Jotham saw the mistakes of his father, and sought to go a different direction (as to not end in the same situation himself). Jotham did “right in the sight of the Lord” and did not go the poor way that his father had gone… yet the damage was done. The above verse continues in that “The people still did corruptly”(vs 2). Sin has a lingering effect – and the sins of the father’s can be visited to successive generations. (Deut 5:9). And yet – God’s mercy is ALWAYS ready to respond to obedience (Deut 5:10). Good King Jotham did his best to turn the tide of the examples he had before him… obeying the Lord and walking in his ways… even beyond those of his fathers. The result of that is his reign was prosperous and his legacy strong.

So 3 kings… with so much to teach us. For starters – we fathers must take our role seriously. Young men are watching us and will learn who God is by our example. Unwise and selfish decisions will hurt not only ourselves, but them and future generations as well. Secondly – our obedience must come from a pure heart. God isn’t looking at our actions – but the root of those actions. If you ask Him, He will give you a pure heart and the ability to please Him. But, it is the third lesson that stands brighter here. Jesus came to break the lingering effect of sin! As we saw in Jotham – it IS possible to turn the tide of the foolish generations before us by seeking the Lord and doing what is right. Genesis 4:7 tells us If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” My wife and I made a choice years ago to turn the direction of our family line by “doing well” and trusting in Jesus to reverse the Curse over our lineage…

Perhaps you would like to join us?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 20

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKing Jehosophat was a good king… in fact, he was one of the few good kings during this time period. Like his father, Asa, Jehosophat loved the Lord and did his best to follow His ways and lead the people of Judah to do the same. Yes, he had his faults and made mistakes – mainly, aligning himself with those who stood against God (such as Ahab in 2 Chron 18 and Ahaziah in 2 Chron 20)… but Jehosophat also did many good things; such as spark two revivals by spreading the teaching of the Law across his land in 2 Chron 17 & 19. His life and reign are summed up in 2 Chron 20:32 – “And he walked in the ways of Asa his father and departed not from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord.”

In 2 Chronicles 20 we see the results of this type of devotion to God played out in a practical scenario. Jehosophat and the people of Judah are faced with a dilemma as the Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites all coordinate a mass rebellion against Israel and gather for war with Judah. As word comes to Jehosophat that there is a large army gathered at his doorstep, the king immediately does what everyone who trusts in the Lord should do as a first response to a crisis… he prays (vs 5-13). In that 224 word prayer, King Jehosophat lays out the situation before God – reminds Him or the mighty deeds of the past – and implores His protection for the future.

God answers this prayer through a Prophet – instructing the people to not be afraid (fear ALWAYS hinders faith!) – but to trust God because the battle is not theirs to fight. He then downloads the battle plan for the next day… instructing them to move out in the direction of the cliff of Ziz – where they will stand and witness the rescue (salvation) of the Lord on their behalf.This rescue from God was based on the life of obedience which Jehosophat had been living. Although not perfect, his heart was to please the Lord and that was what bought him God’s listening ear.

The next day – Jehosophat knew exactly what to do. He knew that this fight wasn’t about him or his army or his strength… but it was ALL about the Lord and His salvation. So instead of marching out in full array with guns blazing (metaphorically), Jehosophat had his people march out in worship (vs 21). Then notice what the Word says:

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were [self-] slaughtered; “2 Chr 20:22

It wasn’t when they set out – nor when they showed their steel, it was when they began to worship that the victory came! That was a revelation of the heart of Jehosophat – he knew where the real power came from and who would bring him victory… and that wasn’t in him or his might! This heart was also revealed as he encouraged the people for the coming battle in vs 21:

… Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper.”

The word “established” is the word “aman” and it refers to being supported as a parent or nurse supports a young child. Further, the word “prosper” is the word “tsalach” and it means “to cause to push forward and break out for good”. Jehosophat knew that is what His God would do for him! In his time of crisis – God would support His people as a nurse supports a small child and would cause them to push forward and break out for good.

In the same way – we can stand assured of God’s help in our time of crisis. Like Jehosophat, if we place our trust in the Lord to fight our battle – lead into every situation with worship, singing, praising – and seek to obey the Lord and believe what He has said to us – then, like Judah, we will be established and prosper in all situations. That is exactly what we do when we gather together on Sunday’s (and throughout the week). Our time of worship is NOT simply a way to start the service or just for the music-lovers in our community… it is the establishing of the victory of the Lord over whatever battles we may have been facing that week.

Like Jehosophat – your life can be set up with your heart devoted toward the Lord. Set your mind on revival by learning His ways as recorded in the Word… and then establish a life of worship. Then when a crisis comes knocking at your door – you can know that your victory is as secure as Judah’s.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 12

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bible-lovingkindnessIt only took 5 years…

In 2 Chronicles 9 we see the great wealth and influence of King Solomon. All of the kings of Arabia heard of his wisdom and traveled, bearing gifts, to speak with him (vs 14). He had so much gold coming in that he crafted 300 golden shields and placed them in the house of Lebanon (vs 16). He crafted a throne of ivory, overlaid with gold – his ships returned overwhelmed with riches – and silver was as plentiful as mere stones in Jerusalem (vs 17-27). The kingdom of Israel was at it’s strongest, all because David had loved the Lord and was blessed – along with Solomon.

But then Solomon dies… and his son, Rehoboam takes the throne. He started out correctly. For his first 3 years he served the Lord – expelled the false worship out of Israel, and the Lord helped him weather the storm of Jeroboam But then things take a turn.

When Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” – 2 Chron 12:1 Amp

Once Rehoboam was comfortable and established (after Jeroboam had rebelled), notice how quickly he forgets who had established him! His grandfather and father had built a powerful kingdom – more or less upon the adherence to the Law of God. But, just 3 years into his reign and Rehoboam is already forgetting who got him there.

It has been just 5 years after the death of Solomon, and already the once great kingdom had been divided 10-2 tribes and there was civil war. Not only that, but now Rehoboam was leading the 2 tribes into further sin and a rejecting of God’s ways. Reading on, we find out that now a foreign king, Shishak of Egypt, comes up and destroys this once great city – plundering her vaults of riches. The very kings who had once paid tribute to hear his father’s wisdom, now rose up against Rehoboam and all of Israel (vs 3). Literally, within the course of just a short time, Shishak comes in and completely reverses all the good that had come upon David & Solomon. The wisdom is replaced with folly. Even the golden shields Solomon had made are now carried off back into Egypt (vs 9).

(Do you notice the irony of Egypt’s role in all of this? Once a slave… still a slave…)

Unlike 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings, which focuses more on the details and history, here we are given insight into the WHY this all happened.

And he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek (inquire of, yearn for) the Lord with all his desire.“2 Chron 12:14 AMP

The real issue for Rehoboam was his heart… it was in his heart that sin and rebellion began. Because he did not “set his heart to seek the Lord” – then all sorts of evil followed. Because his heart was turned towards different directions, Rehoboam quickly found himself on the outside looking in. It was this simple act of failing to “set his heart to seek the Lord with all his desire” that Rehoboam would “forget the Law of the lord” once things began to go well for him. Furthermore, as Rehoboam went, so followed the entire nation of Israel.

What can we learn from Rehoboam’s mistakes? Well, like Solomon, God desires to bless us so that our influence will fill the earth and show them what it is like for those who place Him first. But, like Rehoboam, we must work to ensure that our hearts are set upon seeking the Lord for all we desire. When things are going well, when we have a good job and a comfortable home, when our health is good and our families are safe… it is at that time when we need to seek Him MORE. (Deut 8:10-14)

By forgetting the Law of the Lord, and turning inward towards himself, Rehoboam invited the destruction over Israel that we shall see come to pass over the next 388 years. Had he instead kept his heart set on the Lord, sought Him as the source of all his blessing, and kept his eyes focused on the Law (Word) of God… then this history of Israel could have been much different!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 5

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ark-of-the-covenantIn 2 Chronicles 5 we see that Solomon has completed the Temple of the Lord – overlaying it with gold and the finest jewels – as well as completing the construction of the instruments and furniture which would be used in the daily worship services for the nation of Israel. After assembling the people together – King Solomon reminds them that God had promised his father, David, that his son (Solomon) would be the one to build this temple. That work is now completed.

The Temple had two rooms – an outer room (called the “Holy Place”) and an inner sanctuary (called the “Holy of Holies” or “Holiest Place”). It was in this inner sanctuary that Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant placed between the gold angels on the far wall. The construction of this is detailed in Exodus 26 and Lev 24 – and at that time the Ark contained the following items: The Tablets which Moses wrote the 10 Commandments on while on Mt. Sinai; the pot of manna that was preserved during their time of wandering in the desert; as well as the staff of Aaron which budded flowers. Unfortunately – at this time (2 Chron. 5) we are told that the only item remaining in the Ark is the 10 Commandments. It is unknown where the other 2 items went – but speculation that they were removed during the time the Ark was held by the Philistines is widespread among scholars.

It is also interesting to note how the placing of the Ark was done. The Ark was representative of the very Presence of God… symbolizing (by the tablets of stone) the Covenant Promises God had made with the Israelites. Great detail was given to how this “box” was to be transported… only by the Levitical priests and only with long poles. No man was to ever touch the Ark (a lesson poor Uzzah learned the hard way in 2 Samuel 6). In 2 Chron 5 it is clearly said that the Levites were the ones who moved the Ark into it’s place in the Holy of Holies. After setting it into place – it’s poles were placed along side of it as a symbol that the Ark had found it’s permanent resting place within the Temple (no longer moving around in a tent). Since the Ark represents the Presence and Promises of the Lord – then it is also His Presence which now has found a home. With the Ark firmly situated on the table between the golden angels in the Holy of Holies – it would only be seen 1 time a year and only by the High Priest as he entered to offer the sacrifice for the entire nation of Israel and to burn the incense (prayers).

So God’s powerful Presence was, in essence, restricted to access by men. The average Israelite could not even go into the outer chamber (only the Levite priests) – and then only the High Priest could go into the inner chamber (and only once a year).

But Jesus changed all of that!

According to the writer of Hebrews – Jesus offered Himself as the final sacrifice once and for all – opening the way into the Holy of Holies for ALL mankind (Hebrews Chapter 9)! No longer is it just the priests who can enter God’s Presence and no longer is it only once a year. As well, no longer are the Covenant Promises of God reserved for only the Isrealites… but ALL have access to them!

So when you pray… think a moment about what a privileged you are walking in, and as you read through the account in 2 Chronicles, note how restricted it was for the average joe. The Presence of the Almighty was not something to be taken lightly or trifled with… but great sacrifice was needed to stand before God. That has not changed – but the access has been opened to us all by one Great Sacrifice… you and I have Jesus to thank for that!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Chronicles 1

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god-providesEntering now into the 2nd book of Chronicles – we continue to see the historical events of the nation of Israel from a religious perspective (unlike the historical perspective of 1-2 Kings). While 1 Chronicles focused on David and the establishment of the kingly line through the Davidic covenant between God and David – 2 Chronicles picks up with David’s son, Solomon – through 513 years of monarchy rule in the lineage of David – and culminating with the destruction of the southern kingdom of Judah by Babylon.

Right out of the gate we see Solomon off to a great start. He has inherited a solid kingdom from his father, and has continued the right relationship with God which David has modeled for him. Just as his father had completed his reign by speaking with the people – Solomon begins his the same way… along with some major offerings of dedication to the Lord. After that takes place – Solomon has a dream where God asks him a very important question.

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, Ask what I shall give you.” 2 Chr 1:7 AMP

The strong implication with this question is that God has every intention of granting whatever request Solomon makes of Him. This is based on the work of David – and not of Solomon (as he hadn’t done anything yet). Many people interpret that fact that Solomon asked for Wisdom as proof that God devalues the request of riches, wealth, honor, or long life – which would be the “typical” response to this offering.

But that is not what God said.

God was pleased, not that Solomon had shunned the other things, but that he had made a request which would enable him to better serve the Lord and His people as king. This was a reflection of His heart… to love the Lord and do His work. To say that God is somehow implying that the other request options of riches, wealth, honor, and long life are in fact the wrong answer is to discredit large portions of Scripture where those very gifts are offered by the Lord to His people.

What God was doing was revealing His heart towards Solomon (because of David). God’s heart is to bless His people and provide for them… to grant them long life and everything they need in life. By offering Solomon “anything he wanted” – God was just continuing to be who He had always been… from Adam/Eve in the garden to Abraham on down.

In the New Testament He continues with the very same offering to us that He gave to Solomon:

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.” – Matt 7:7 AMP

He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”– Matt 17:20 AMP

And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.”– Matt 21:22 AMP

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.“– John 15:7 AMP

God hasn’t changed – just as He loved and provided for Solomon (because of David), He loves and provides for you and I (because of Jesus). The eye-opening part of this chapter is not that God made such an offer to Solomon, but that Solomon’s answer revealed his heart. Solomon revealed that He had God’s kingdom in mind above himself. His answer was a statement of love for God and His nation of Israel… and that he took the calling of king seriously. Solomon knew that he could not lead these people without God’s help… and so his answer was one of priority.

In the end – Solomon went away with more then he came with. That is how it has always been with people who place God first… be it Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Job, or you and I. Don’t allow the poverty-choked spirit of religion steal what God wants to give you! Instead give Him your heart and see what He does in return!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK