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“You know that David my father was unable to build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the wars which surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God…” – King Solomon (1 Kings 5:3-4).


One could say that Solomon “got over.”  He reaped the benefits of his father’s many wars.  Those benefits were 40 years of peace and stability. Thus, despite having a large standing army, Solomon never had to use it during his reign.

In contrast, his father, David, had lived a torturous life. Before he was king, David was hunted as a fugitive. And when he became king, he inherited a mess. The Philistines had overrun his country and seven years would pass before the Kingdom of Israel was even unified under his rule.

And besides the wars David faced on every side, there was political intrigue within his court and bloody conflict within his own family. The conflict around David was so threatening that it’s a miracle David lived long enough to die peacefully in bed. But by that time, David’s tumultuous life had taken a heavy toll on his health. At the end he was a frail, pale ghost of his former self.

Solomon was the diametrical opposite.  He grew up in a palace and would go on to be the wealthiest king the people of God ever had. Solomon enjoyed an unparalleled reign of success, peace, and prosperity. During his reign, “Israel and Judah were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing” (1 Kings 4:20). The Scripture says, “Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 4:25). This description would be echoed by future prophets as they foretold of the blessings under the Messiah’s reign.

But here, in passage at the top of the page, Solomon makes a profound acknowledgement. Solomon recognizes that these wonderful conditions are not for his enjoyment. Nor are they, in any way, a sign of or a reward for his own spirituality, righteousness, or close relationship with God. All this peace and prosperity is intended by God for Solomon to devote himself exclusively to the work of the LORD.

God doesn’t want Solomon to be distracted or deterred by wars and internal conflict. God wants him fully devoted to His work. Foremost among these works, Solomon must build a permanent habitation for God on earth – the Temple of the LORD. And Solomon complied with God’s intentions. He devoted all his energies to the work of the LORD.

Well, at least this was the case in the beginning. Unfortunately, Solomon would later allow other things to take possession of his heart. While he spent seven years building the Temple, he went on to spend thirteen years building his own palace. In fact, building projects and business ventures would completely absorb him. Later, his many foreign wives would turn his distracted heart away from the LORD and lead him into idolatry.

But today I wish to focus on the “good Solomon.”  He rightly interpreted his trouble-free circumstances and success as an opportunity to devote his energies and resources to God’s work.

When I read this biblical passage, it made me think of many of today’s successful pastors. Many of these mega-church pastors have become virtual superstars among God’s people. And no one dares question anything they say, for their success in ministry is proof that God is on their side, right?

But such success can bring a temptation – the temptation to think that they “have it all together” with their faith and their relationship with God. Their success, especially when it’s accompanied by an absence of the troubles which afflict most of God’s people, can lead them to believe that they are the ideal, the example that all other Christians should follow.

When this happens, these pastors will begin to look upon those “afflicted believers” as losers, whose experience with God has no validity. Their preaching will refer to them as “defeated Christians,” who are beset with sickness, financial problems, marital conflict, and rebellious children. These poor, defeated Christians, who always live under God’s frown, could experience joy and victory if they’d only do as the mega-church pastor does.

But these pastors have completely misunderstood their success and circumstances. Like Solomon, God has not spared them from calamity because of any spirituality on their part. God has spared them from calamity so that they can more fully devote themselves to God’s work. Their devotion to the Lord’s work is not the cause of their trouble-free existence. Their trouble-free existence is God’s intended opportunity for them to exclusively devote themselves to the Lord.

However, since God is as concerned with His work in us as He is for His work through us, that “trouble-free existence” will not last long. For tribulation and affliction are necessary to all of God’s children if He is to conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; James 1:2-4).

Just look at Paul’s long list of afflictions in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. Paul was shipwrecked three times and was nearly drowned while crossing rivers. He was robbed, exposed to continual threats to his life, and suffered thirst, hunger, cold, exposure, and many sleepless nights. His resources were so few that he had to work both day and night at tent-making. Paul saw these and other personal afflictions as God’s means of humbling him and making him more dependent upon the grace of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Even Jesus was not exempt from the “school of hard knocks.”  He learned obedience and was perfected as our Savior through the things He suffered (Hebrews 2:18; 5:8-9). Therefore, suffering is normal for the Christian.

However, Paul did acknowledge the fact that sufferings and afflictions are not evenly distributed among God’s people. When he wrote to the churches, Paul even suggested that he was bearing more than his share of Christ’s sufferings partly because the churches were not bearing their fair share (Colossians 1:24). They were, therefore, not to think of themselves as superior to Paul (1 Corinthians 4:7-13). Rather they should use their abundance of wealth to support his work and their freedom from affliction to intercede on his behalf (1 Corinthians 16:1-9).

Therefore, Paul left us a principle to follow. If a Christian believer enjoys a reprieve from trouble and enjoys prosperity, then he or she is to use it as an opportunity to serve the Lord by blessing those suffering affliction and need. It is not an opportunity to pat oneself on the back or look down on those saints who are suffering. For, if we persist in our self-righteousness and callousness, God has ways of humbling us and teaching us compassion for others.


PRAYER:  Dear Father, when peace and prosperity abound in my life, help me understand that these are not a reward for my own goodness and faith. Help me to see they are Your opportunity for me to bless those who are suffering affliction and need. Help me to humble myself so that I will not have to be humbled by pain and adversity. Yet even the Lord Jesus Christ was perfected through His sufferings, so I am not exempt. Therefore, whatever comes into my life – adversity or peace, abundance or poverty – give me an attitude of gratitude toward You and a generous heart toward others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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