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GOD STILL EXTENDS HIS GRACE EVEN WHEN WE BEND THE RULES, BUT...

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

14 AUGUST 1994

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Deuteronomy 7:1-5
            12:1-9
1 Samuel 15:22
1 Kings 2:10-12
            3:1-14

Last week I left you with somewhat of a "cliff-hanger" concerning the intrigue that existed within King David's family.

And since I figured that you all read ahead in your Bibles to see what happened, I, too, skipped forward to the book of 1 Kings 2:10-12.

As we look at these verses, and the first 14 verses of chapter 3, we see that God still extends His grace to those who believe in Him, even when they bend the rules, but...

... but that's not what God desires.

He would much rather that we followed the rules, that He could pour out His love upon us without any reservations.

This applies to each and every one of us, even if we're not in a position of authority, as was David, for even as individuals, we all have been given the responsible to be kind and loving steward of the whole of God's creation.

Let's take a look at these first Scripture verses, 1 Kings 2:10-12.

10. Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

11. And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years he reigned in Hebron, and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem.

12. And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

David died, and his son Solomon took over as king of all Israel.

And remember, that Solomon is the son of Bathsheba, whose husband David had killed because of his desire for her.

David and Bathsheba both deserved to die for their sins, but God forgave them.

Thus, both this son's birth and his rise to the throne of Israel were by God's grace.

So, let's see what Solomon does when he becomes king, beginning at 1 Kings 3:1.

1. Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her to the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.

Solomon begins his reign by making human alliances, and not the alliance God wanted with Him.

Note what we are told in Deuteronomy 7:1-5.

1. "When the Lord your God shall bring you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and shall clear away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,

2. and when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.

3. "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.

4. "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

5. "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.

Solomon does just the opposite of what God set forth in His commandments.

And what else did he do?

1 Kings 3:2. The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days.

God wanted the people to worship and sacrifice on the altar of the tabernacle, in the manner He commanded Moses, but even more so, He wanted their obedience.

Every time we see sacrifices mentioned in the Bible, we need to remember that this is part of God's concession, and not His will, as we are told in 1 Samuel 15:22.

22 And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

And Solomon, as their leader, was to set the proper example.

So once again let's go back to the Book of Deuteronomy and look at what Moses reminded the people about in 12:1-9.

1. "These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth.

2. "You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.

3. "And you shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall obliterate their name from that place.

4. "You shall not act like this toward the Lord your God.

5. "But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.

6. "And there you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first-born of your herd and of your flock.

7. "There also you and your households shall eat before the Lord your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

8. "You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;

9. for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you.

By such a commandment, God is not encouraging sacrifice, but limiting the carnage, for there was only one altar in the Temple, and He want to make sure that His people will not go astray.

The people are doing just the opposite of what God desires of them.

And what does Solomon do to correct the situation?

1 Kings 3:3. Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

Do we hear what this verse is telling us?

Solomon loved the Lord, except...

Solomon loved the Lord, but...

He loved the Lord, but he didn't do what the Lord wanted.

When we don't do everything the Lord wants us to do, it says that we put limits to our love.

4. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

5. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you."

Note how the Lord, in all His love, still pours out His grace.

"Ask what you wish," says the Lord.

Sometimes, I see this verse, as a form of God trying to "bribe" or entice Solomon into obedience.

6. Then Solomon said, "Thou hast shown great lovingkindness to Thy servant David my father, according as he walked before Thee in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward Thee; and Thou hast reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

Now, we know that David didn't always walk as he should before the Lord.

And from this verse we are not sure whether Solomon is really aware of his fatherís sins, or if he is simply looking at his fatherís life as covered by God's grace.

7. "And now, O Lord my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.

8. "And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude.

9. "So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?"

From what we see in the next verse, Solomon truly seems to desire to serve the Lord by being a good king.

But the one thing he didn't ask for was that the wisdom and understanding would enable him to judge himself as well as his subjects.

10. And it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.

11. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,

12. behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.

The Lord answered his prayer, and gave him even more than he asked for.

13. "And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.

14. "And if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days."

Note that while granting Solomon what he didn't ask for in riches and honor, he didn't grant him the wisdom and knowledge to judge himself.

He was going to let Solomon do that on his own.

But God does give him a warning.

And the warning isn't even a hard one, for all God asks of him is to do at least as well as his father did.

God deals with us in a similar manner, too.

He commands us to be like Jesus Christ, sinless and perfect.

But God accepts us as we are, if we simply love and believe in Him, and sincerely try to do His will, which as we mentioned before is an integral part of loving God.

That's His grace; itís something we don't really deserve.

However, God has so much more for those whose heart and soul actually follow the example of His Son.

We are to be at least as good as the other believing sinners.

But we should strive to be at least as good as He who is sinless.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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