Welcome to day 549 and our 38th book of the Bible, the Book of 2 Chronicles! Now, the book of 2 Chronicles was originally just a continuation of the book of 1 Chronicles! In other words, it was all one book! So, if you watched the Bible Project video summary of 1 Chronicles…you can skip the video. However, if you didn’t watch that one last month, to gain a better understanding of the Book of 2 Chronicles, check out this great 6.5 minute video…
When I was about 9 months old, in September of 1965, a brand new show debuted called ‘I Dream of Jeannie’! It was produced in an attempt to challenge the wildly popular ‘Bewitched’ sitcom that had launched on a rival network a year earlier!
Now, at 9 months old I wasn’t watching ‘Jeannie’, but as the show lasted 5 seasons and re-runs in the 1970’s were popular, I grew up watching the 2000 year old genie work her magic in ‘I Dream of Jeannie’!…and I wasn’t the only one! The thought of having powers to name-what-you-want and then get it was tantalizing to millions of us back in the 1970’s!
Well, our chapter today has always reminded me of a genie in a bottle!
After ‘taking firm control of the kingdom’ (v1) and after the Ark of the Covenant has already been moved to Jerusalem awaiting it’s new home in the magnificent Temple Solomon will build, Solomon summons the key leaders to the Tent-Tabernacle in Gibeon to worship God. While there, God asks Solomon, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
There it is! The genie-in-a-bottle moment!…but for real!
It’s a fascinating question that spills out of this chapter! If God came to you and said, “Hey you! You have one wish! Ask whatever you want and I will give it to you!”…what would you ask for?
Solomon, of course, asks for ‘wisdom’! That is almost the best object or quality a person could have asked for! He doesn’t ask for wealth, a life of ease, popularity, magical powers, military victories or even a long life! He seems to genuinely want to serve and lead his people well, so he asks for wisdom. However, there was possibly one request that would have even been better! Can you think what it would be?
SPOILER ALERT: Fast forwarding to the end of Solomon’s life shows that even this noble request for wisdom wasn’t enough! The Scottish Baptist preacher and Bible commentator, Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), had this to say of Solomon…
“Solomon’s request was not bad. We are specifically told in 1 Kings 3:10 that the speech pleased the LORD. Yet we can also ask if this was the best Solomon could ask for. “Was this the highest gift that he could have asked or received? Surely the deep longings of his father for communion with God were yet better.”
“Solomon did his job well – as well or better than anyone. Yet as his falling away in the end showed (1 Kings 11:1-11) there was something lacking in his spiritual life. “There is no sign in his biography that he ever had the deep inward devotion of his father. After the poet-psalmist came the prosaic and keen-sighted shrewd man of affairs.”
The British Methodist theologian, Adam Clarke (1760-1832) added, “Instead of being the wisest of men, did he not become more brutish than any man? Did he not even lose the knowledge of his Creator, and worship the abominations of the Moabites, Zidonians, and [so forth]? And was not such idolatry a proof of the grossest stupidity? How few proofs does his life give that the gracious purpose of God was fulfilled in him! He received much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful to the grace given. No character in the sacred writings disappoints us more than the character of Solomon.”
This is such a strong reminder that a person could receive their ‘genie-wish’ and still mess up their life! A person can have-it-all, and still lose-it-all…because it’s not what-you-have…but what-you-do-with-what-you-have that counts!
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