Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Presumption


Do you see the face? Or an Eskimo?, image courtesy of mentaljynx.com

I’m reading through 1 Kings as part of my morning bible devotion, study and meditation and I have just finished the reign of Solomon (chapter 11). The interesting thing to me is that God told Solomon to,
Ask what you wish me to give you.1

To which Solomon replied:
…So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil…2

I remind myself that God is never caught off guard or surprised by the things that occur in His creation but this is written in such a way that I’m surprised at what Solomon asked for because of how God responds:

…I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart…And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor…3

I thought about that and wondered how I would have replied to God if I were told to; Ask what you wish me to give you. The thought of having anything I want is both overwhelming and daunting. There had to be some degree of wisdom in Solomon’s consciousness to ask God for discernment and not material wealth. It would be hard to put aside thoughts of What would benefit me most? over How can I best serve others?

So I have much admiration for Solomon because he exhibited a wisdom that humbles me because I have seen my own greed and desire for self up close and personal.

This led me to the realization that I’ve often presumed to know what God wants for me and off I go running with my presumption. I’m fortunate that God didn’t look upon me as a modern day Korah, whom you remember, challenged the authority of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron. Korah presumed this and defiantly said to Moses,

…You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?4

The real problem here is that Korah viewed God as one views a peer; he didn’t see Moses as an extension of God’s authority and leadership. As a result, he didn’t understand that it was God he challenged, not Moses. I believe this is what God referred to in Psalm 50:21,

These things you have done, and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you…5

It’s like in my mind, because God doesn’t discourage my thoughts and actions, my view of Him is that He’s not the authority in my life. Much like the child who says,

You’re not the boss of me!

I look at God as I would look at any other man; I’ll let Him be my equal but no more. That’s pretty presumptuous of me; don’t you think?

"...and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with their possessions."6

The idea of being swallowed up by the earth isn't very appealing.

Right about now you should be wondering, What do Korah and the book of Numbers have to do with 1 Kings? I presumed that with all that wisdom Solomon was given by God, along with the acknowledgement that he had not asked for any personal gain, that Solomon would be on a path that was mistake-free.

As John McClane would say, Bzzzzzzzzzzz…Sorry Hans, wrong guess!

Solomon was an idolater, he worshipped other gods. How could he possibly make that kind of error in judgment? A man whose wisdom exceeded everyone’s yet he followed after pagan gods. Did life get to a point where Solomon just put his on autopilot and looked to do things to occupy his time? I don’t know but something went wrong in his life; really, really wrong.

Perhaps it was his love of women but it’s hard for me to imagine being bored with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The bible says Solomon got old and his wives turned his heart to other gods; to the point where he no longer was committed to God. Solomon was given a pattern for living, the life of his father David; but he substituted another pattern for his father’s and became a worshipper of foreign gods.

Solomon made a presumption that what he did was acceptable by God.

I have a pattern for living too, the life of Jesus Christ. The danger for me is to presume that when God is silent, I look on Him as if he were just another man and I go substituting something else in place of the life of Christ.

Big presumption….big wrong presumption!

I want to keep framed in my mind that there is no cruise control setting in my walk with Christ. It is a daily effort on my part to consciously recognize the temptations that would lead me astray and into a lifestyle that disrespects and dishonors God.

It’s easy to make a presumption; it’s a lot harder to be right about something I presume.

The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.7

It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in man.8

Their inner thought is, that their houses are forever…9

When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.10

I considered my ways, and turned my feet to Thy testimonies.11

Father,

I despise my thoughts that presume and dishonor You. I choose to seek You with my whole heart. Holy Spirit, lead me along the path of what is right, just, faithful and true. Oh God, You are not a man, there is none like You in the heavens or on the earth. You are sovereign and supreme and my life is in Your hands. Have Your way and do with me as what seems right in Your eyes. Thank You for the covenant of grace through my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. 1 Kings 3:5, NASB
  2. 1 Kings 3:6-9, NASB
  3. 1 Kings 3:11-14, NASB
  4. Numbers 16:3, NASB
  5. Psalm 50:21, NASB
  6. Numbers 16:32, NASB
  7. Psalm 94:11, NASB
  8. Psalm 118:8, NASB
  9. Psalm 49:11, NASB
  10. Psalm 73:16-17, NASB
  11. Psalm 119:59, NASB
References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  4. John McClane quotation from the movie Die Hard, Internet Movie Database, screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, directed by John McTiernan, released on July 15, 1988 by 20th Century Fox

16 comments:

Sharon Kirby said...

How I NEEDED to hear these words today!! Just yesterday, I was going through some "woman in the mirror" moments - mostly about how frustrated I am that I can't seem to trust Him completely (quietly and peacefully, too) to do the work HE wants to do in my life!
These words from your post especially spoke to me:

Have Your way and do with me as what seems right in Your eyes.

And I might add my addendum: And Lord, help me GET OUT and STAY OUT of YOUR way!

Thanks again...and GOD BLESS!

Deborah Ann said...

Hi, found you on Teresa's blog. What an interesting post! God once asked me the same as He did of Solomon...to ask and it will be done. I said that I wanted to travel around the world and preach the gospel. The prophet praying over me laughed, and then he said that, like Solomon, because I didn't ask for material wealth, He would give that as well. That's all well and good, but a few years have come and gone, and my request has changed. Were God to ask me again what I want, it would be to be so close to His heart, that I could feel it beating, and that my heart would beat in perfect timing with His...

God has obviously gifted you with wisdom, a wonderful blessing indeed!

MTJ said...

Sharon: I need to remember to lay aside my ego and allow God to work in me; just leave the driving to God.

Deborah Ann: Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Teresa is a blessing and source of encouragement, her passion for Christ is clearly conveyed in her writing. I see you just returned from camping and I confess it's something I've never done. I'm just a guy who grew up in the urban prairie of Chicago but one day I may try camping (God willing).

Faith Imagined said...

I relate so much to this post that it is scary! This line really hit home with me, "This led me to the realization that I’ve often presumed to know what God wants for me and off I go running with my presumption." It seems I just get so excited and dart off running without consulting Him first. I am trying to make it a rule to always pray first before I act regardless of how excited I am! Awesome post!

Teresa said...

"It would be hard to put aside thoughts of What would benefit me most? over How can I best serve others?" This is so true...hard hitting truth! This post is beautiful and another reminder...I am shaking my head as I am stirred with truth...thank you for your obedience to write this! There were so many great insights to this post!
Amen!
Teresa

Teresa said...

Do you mind if I copy and paste this post to my blog? I believe I will post it on Friday (Lord willing ;)
This is such a powerful post!!!! Another point that you made which struck me with great conviction: "The real problem here is that Korah viewed God as one views a peer; he didn’t see Moses as an extension of God’s authority and leadership. As a result, he didn’t understand that it was God he challenged, not Moses. I believe this is what God referred to in Psalm 50:21,

“These things you have done, and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you…”

So true; and I have been guilty of this very thing...wow!!! I am so grateful for this post!

MTJ said...

Alisa: I tried putting myself in Solomon's position and realized that the path of humility is still distant but I'm thankful to be on the path. I'm not there yet but I'm not where I was. :)

Teresa: I've been thinking about what you shared in Am I fasting and I was struck by the thought that there have been times I've abstained. This points to my presumption that I'm fine when I'm obviously not. Thanks for sharing encouraging words that point to our Lord.

By all means my sister, take what you need and share it with your readers with my blessing.

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

You never cease to amaze me with the insight you have into Scripture. I definitely can relate to presuming to know what is right for my life versus God's guidance and direction. Just like you said, "The danger for me is to presume that when God is silent, I look on Him as if he were just another man and I go substituting something else in place of the life of Christ."

I also wonder what was the trigger that took Solomon's eyes off the Lord. Someone that was so wise! Women? Lust? Idolatry? It's quite disturbing. But when I look at the dumb things I've done, I'm not about to point fingers and look down on Solomon!

Great post once again! I love how you make Scripture so personal. Excellent read.

God bless!

Family, Money and Stuff said...

Wow. Lots of stuff in there :) I'm particularly intrigued by the fact that Solomon, the wisest of men, still fell prey to temptation - to sin - to idolatry.

I'm not Solomon, yet I 'presume' that I can sometimes get it right and be 'okay', even if in one area of life. I think that's exactly the temptation that leads to complacency and ultimately my pride and judgment of others.

No one's immune. Huh. Amazing that I can forget that... even for a moment. Sometimes that's all it takes for a foothold to happen...

Take captive EVERY THOUGHT. That's my battle recently.

BTW - I appreciate the prayer at the end :)

MTJ said...

Dean: That's the same conclusion I came to Dean; "when I look at the dumb things I've done, I'm not about to point fingers and look down on Solomon!" -- I'm fortunate that God spared my life from being documented.

Kim: "No one's immune." -- Not one of us is sinless. I think we've all had a memory lapse (or three) on our condition apart from God. He blesses our lives in so many ways and then...I accept the notion that's it's all because of me; I'm so intelligent, wise, charming, good looking, confident, astute, and all those other words that puff me up. The truth is that apart from God I'm nothing and in Christ I'm saved (nothing more).

THE OLD GEEZER said...

What an excellent Bible study. I think Solomon's reply to God should be the prayer of every Christian leader. God's people in the 21st century are in much need to be able to discern good from evil.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I think I would ask for perfect humility. Obviously, wisdom ultimately got Solomon into trouble. ("Too smart for his own good" would be what his mother might say if she were like my mother, talking about me.) With humility, we can accept the other gifts as they happen and be grateful, and we can listen and follow because we don't presume to know anything.

I enjoyed the post!

MTJ said...

Ron: What you say is so very true my brother.

Elizabeth: Humility would be good. I was thinking of the post you wrote on being a giver (God's Crazy Math), and how that is a gift God gives. I've always loved the thought of being a cheerful giver.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Thanks, MTJ. I find giving just about the most rewarding experience in life. It does not have to be money. It can be advice or time. Whatever it is that someone else needs.

sarah said...

Your posts always help me. and I want to thank you for your prayers for me about letting go...I just read your comment. Thanks so much MTJ..

MTJ said...

Elizabeth: I agree. Giving can be in the form of investing my time, talent or money in the lives/ministry of others.

Sarah: I have found you to be a source of encouragement. Your writing reveals a compassion for those who've been through hard times, some of whom have been unable to find their way. You provide a needed light. Thank you.