Praying for Wisdom

 

The story of Solomon is ultimately a tragic one, but we shouldn’t get so caught up in the end that we forget the beginning.  The Bible details the reigns of dozens of kings, but the beginning of Solomon’s story is unique.  He offers sacrifices at the great high place at Gibeon (even though the ark is outside Jerusalem, the tabernacle and the rest of its furnishings are at Gibeon), and in response, God appears to him in a vision and says, “Ask me for anything.”

Unprompted, driven entirely by his own humility and his sense of inadequacy for the task before him, Solomon asks for wisdom.  His answer pleases God so much that He blesses him with all the other attributes of a great king too. Continue reading

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Quoting Eliphaz

Too much of the time, we content ourselves with the frame-tale version of the book of Job.  We focus on Job losing everything at the beginning of the book and having his possessions restored at the end.  Even though Job contains about three chapters of prose (the frame tale) and 39 chapters of poetry, we summarize the poetry as “Job’s three friends argued with him, and they were wrong.”  From there, we move on. Continue reading

Spiritual Bureaucracy

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been reading my way through the archives of a blog called Farnam Street.  Among other interests, the blog maintainer is a big fan of Warren Buffett (Buffett’s home and office are both located on Farnam St. in Omaha).  In a recent post, he noted that even though Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, has over 300,000 employees, its central office is so small that it doesn’t even have an HR department.

Why?  Because Buffett’s management style is so minimalist as to be nonexistent.  Rather than trying to dictate policy and procedure for every Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, Buffett hires competent managers and tells them, “You do you.”  His success is based not on micromanaging, but on trust.

This pattern, though extremely successful, is rejected by nearly every other large company.  Most CEO’s prefer to manage through bureaucracy, not trust.  As the Farnam Street blogger observes, “It’s a seductive illusion to think that we can create a system where people can’t mess up.”

Oh, wow, is that ever true!  Nor is its application limited only to the business world.  In fact, I think a lot of well-meaning Christians have embarked on the spiritual equivalent of bureaucracy-building.  Continue reading

Handling a Troublemaker

The Bible is full of epithets that capture the character of a man.  David is “a man after God’s own heart”.  Abraham is “the friend of God”.  Moses is “the servant of God”.  Equally telling (though not as flattering) is the description of Sheba the Bichrite, who is presented in 2 Samuel 20:1 as, “a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri.”  Continue reading

Rebellion Against God’s Anointed

Sometimes, studying the Bible is like cleaning out your kid’s bedroom.  The deeper you dig, the more you find.  In my case, I recently had this experience with Psalm 2.  A couple of weeks ago, the psalm appeared in my daily Bible reading (I follow another plan in addition to the schedule we’re on here), and as I was reading it, I said to myself, “Hey!  There’s a hymn in there!”

After I’d paraphrased the psalm, two things struck me about it.  The first is the great relevance of Psalm 2 to the New Testament.  Only a few other psalms are quoted more frequently than Psalm 2, and most of those are much longer.

Second, though, Psalm 2 has a great deal of relevance to us.  It’s about a time when the authority of God is under attack by powerful people, and guess what?  We live in a time when the authority of God is under attack by powerful people.  In such a time, we need to be reminded about what the outcome of those attacks will always be.  This evening, then, let’s look at Psalm 2. Continue reading

The Power of Example

In many ways, it’s hard to write about David without also writing about his sin with Bathsheba.  The story of the sin itself is significant, but its consequences shape the rest of David’s life.  Indeed, in 2 Samuel 12, Nathan prophesies that the same sort of things will happen to David that David did to Uriah.  He will be betrayed by those close to him, and his wives will be taken by another man. Continue reading