Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of First Kings, which describes the days of the reign of Solomon, as well as the days of the kings of Israel and Judah who would reign over a divide nation and kingdom of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage would be found in chapters nine through eleven of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find that after Solomon had made an end of praying at the dedication of the Temple which he had built unto the LORD in Jerusalem, the LORD appeared to him a second time. THERE COMES A SECOND! A SECOND VISITATION! If and as you begin reading from the first verse of the ninth chapter you will find that it came to pass when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and even the king’s own house which he had built, that the LORD appeared unto Solomon a second time, as He had appeared unto him at Gibson. It’s actually quite necessary that we recognize and understand that which took place in these two visitations of the living God within the life of Solomon king of Israel, for these two visitations and manifestations of the presence and voice of the living God would each have their own significance and importance within his life. The LORD would first appear unto Solomon at Gibeon through a dream by night. It would be through this dream and vision which Solomon the king of Israel would have that the LORD would appear unto him and would ask him what he would ask that the LORD would do and give unto him. Pause for a moment and think about the absolutely astonishing reality that the LORD would appear unto this son of David who sat upon the throne of David, and would not only appear unto him, but would also invite him to ask of him anything he wished, anything he desired, and anything he would ask of the LORD. Early on during the reign of Solomon the son of David when he reigned over the nation and kingdom of Israel from Jerusalem, the living God would appear before and unto him by a dream at night, and I can’t help but wonder if while the LORD would have perhaps given Solomon anything his heart desired, He was in fact testing and proving his heart to see what type of heart he had. We know for a fact that the living God loved Solomon, for Scripture makes it very clear that Solomon would be a son unto the living God, and that the living God would indeed love him. With that being said, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that when the living God appeared unto Solomon by dream during the night, He was testing and proving his heart to see whether or not he would have a heart after the living God which his father David had before Him. Before we get into the second visitation and the second revelation which the living God made unto Solomon, it is first necessary to call and draw our attention to the first visitation which the living God made unto Solomon when He appeared unto Him by night in a dream. Consider if you will the narrative and account of this first visitation which the living God would make before and unto Solomon when He appeared unto him by a dream during the night:
“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not ask for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor has asked the life of thine enemies; but has asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was non like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants” (1 Kings 3:1-15).
“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly. Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers. So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjath-Jearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem. Moreover the brazen altar, that Bezaleel the son of URI, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it. And Solomon went up thither to the brazen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it. IN that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet has tasked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:1-12).
I am convinced that before we can truly understand this second visitation which the LORD manifested within the life of Solomon it is first necessary to think about and consider the first revelation. We must recognize and understand that before the LORD appeared unto Solomon in Jerusalem, He first visited and appeared unto Him in Gibeon—in the place of the altar, the place of the Tabernacle, and in the place where the originally sanctuary of the living God was. It’s worth noting and considering how Solomon led Israel to the place of the original sanctuary and to a place of worship before the living God, and it was in that place where the LORD would appear unto him in a dream by night. The LORD would appear unto Solomon in the place of the sanctuary and I would dare say He appeared unto him in such a place of worship and adoration in order to test and know his heart. Pause for a moment and think about how you would respond and how you would react if the LORD appeared to you by night in a dream and gave you an open invitation to ask Him anything you would seek. What I find to be so incredibly intriguing about this particular reality is that Scripture records how the living God appeared unto Solomon by night in a dream, and in that dream He asked Solomon what He would give unto him, however, what we do not read and what we do not find within this passage of Scripture is any promise of the LORD that He would grant Solomon’s request. We do in fact find within the Old Testament book of First Kings, as well as the book of Second Chronicles that the living God appeared to Solomon by a dream in the night, and invited him to ask of the LORD anything that was in his heart, and yet the LORD never promised, nor did He ever declare unto Solomon that He would at all give him what he asked for. The LORD did in fact give Solomon an open visitation to ask of Him whatever he would, but the LORD didn’t guarantee that He would answer His request. This is quite remarkable and astounding, for even when Solomon responded to the LORD there was absolutely no way he would or could know that the LORD would answer his request. In both the book of First Kings, as well as the book of Second Chronicles we find and discover the absolutely astonishing reality that the LORD would indeed appear before and unto Solomon, and would invite him to ask him anything he would, however, the LORD never promised that Solomon would get what he actually for.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider what our response would be if the LORD appeared unto us and invited us to ask of Him what we would without giving any promise or declaration that He would give us that which we asked. If I am being honest with myself, as well as with the LORD, I would have to admit that I am not sure how I would respond if the living and eternal God appeared to me by dream during the night and offered me such an invitation. I am not at all certain how I would respond to the LORD if He issued an invitation within my heart and my spirit to ask Him what I will. What causes this particular visitation to Solomon to be so absolutely unique and astounding is when you consider the fact that there are countless individuals—even within the church of Jesus Christ today—who treat the eternal and living God as though He is some type of mystical and magical genie in a bottle who can and will some how grant unto them all their requests, all their desires. They would use the words of David which were written and recorded in the thirty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms when David writes: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Such individuals would read those words and would automatically think that the living God would give them the desires of their heart, however, what many fail to recognize and understand when considering those words is that at the very heart and foundation of the LORD’s response and the LORD’s activity is our delighting in Him. David did in fact write that if we delighted ourselves in the LORD He would give us the desires of our heart, but do you honestly think and believe—even for a split second—the LORD will give you anything if you do not delight and are not delighting in Him? Do you honestly believe that the living God can, will, and even should give you the desires of your heart if you are not fully, wholly and completely delighting yourself in Him? What’s more, is that when you read the words which are written and recorded in this passage, you will indeed find David declaring the LORD will give you the desires of your heart, however, most people take those words to mean that the LORD will give us the desires of our heart—as in the LORD will answer our prayers, our petitions, our requests, and the like. I happen to find two distinct and two different things that are wrong with this particular line of thinking, as we must not only ask ourselves what the desires of our heart are in the first place, and we must ask ourselves whether or not the desires of our heart are and have been given unto us by the LORD our God.
I have read the words which David the psalmist wrote in this particular passage of Scripture, and I have long believed that this particular passage could very well be interpreted as the LORD will give us the desires of our heart—as in the LORD will respond to our prayers and give us that which we seek after. The question that immediately comes to our mind is what do we do if the desires which are in our hearts a are not of the LORD and aren’t in alignment with His will. What do we do with a verse and passage that declares that the LORD will give us the desires of our heart, and yet the desires of our heart are based on our own flesh, our own passions, and our own lusts? To help illustrate this point even further, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which James the brother of Jesus wrote in the epistle found in the New Testament. If you turn and direct your attention to the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by James, you will come across an incredible powerful declaration that was made concerning what we ask for—and not only what we ask for, but also what the desires of our heart truly are. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that it is possible for us to enter into the presence of the LORD and to offer our petitions and requests before the LORD, however, that which we actually desire is so far out of alignment with the will of the living God that we have to ask and wonder how and why He would even think about answering our prayers and giving us that which our hearts truly desired. To help illustrate this point even further, we must consider the words which James the brother of Jesus wrote in this epistle beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the chapter:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because he ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do y think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw night to God, and He will draw night to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
The words which we find listed here in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James are actually quite intriguing, for within them we encounter and come face to face with James speaking of wars and fightings which were taking place among the brethren. What’s more, is James would go on to write how these wars and fightings came from their own lusts which warred in their members. There were those among the brethren who would lust and have not, who would kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain, and who fight and war and yet have not because they ask not. Moreover, when they do ask, they ask and receive not because they ask amiss in order that they might consume it upon their lusts. What makes the words of James even more striking and alarming is when you think about and consider the fact he then goes on to describe these individuals as adulterers and adulteresses in the midst of the body of Christ. It actually gets even more alarming and more shocking when you consider the fact that James takes it a step further and asks them if they do not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Still even more James goes on to declare that whosoever would therefore be a friend of the world is automatically and immediately an enemy of the living God. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance that surrounds the words which James writes within this chapter, for it’s almost as if James is calling certain of the brethren adulterers and adulteress because the desires which are in their heart. It’s almost as if James lifts the veil that is over the hearts of these individuals and exposes the fact that their lusts, their passions, their desires, and that which they are truly seeking after is so far out of alignment with the living and eternal God that it is actually considered friendship with the world. Pause for a moment and think about the reality that it is possible to have desires within our heart, and yet those desires are actually nothing more than manifestations of our friendship with the world and with the things of the world. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that it might even be possible to go to the LORD in prayer and to offer up “petitions” and “requests” before the LORD and through that which we ask the LORD we are demonstrating ourselves as being adulterers and adulteresses before Him in His presence. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality, for James seems to suggest that even though we might appear before the LORD with our petitions and requests—that which we bring before the LORD, which might very well be the desires that are within our hearts make us adulterers and adulteresses in the sight and presence of the living God. Think about the fact that it is possible for adulterers and adulteresses in heart can stand before a holy God and express what are the desires of their heart, and yet the desires of their heart actually demonstrates and reveals their friendship with the world.
Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—do you really think, and do you really believe that if you are an adulterer and adulteress in heart the living and eternal God can and will answer your requests and your prayers? Do you really think and believe that your desires—that which is nothing more than a manifestation of your friendship with the world—would even be answered by the LORD your God? What makes us think for one moment that if our desires are not only not in alignment with the divine will of the living God and His desires, that He would even give us that which we ask for? James makes it very clear that friendship with the world is enmity with God, and that whosoever would be a friend of the world is enmity with God. OH, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle John wrote in the first of three epistles he wrote unto the saints and congregation which was at Ephesus. Consider if you will the words which are found in the second chapter of the first epistle which was written by the apostle John beginning to read with and from the fourteenth verse of the second chapter:
“I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not on him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:14-17).
Within these verses the apostle John makes it very clear that we are not to love the world, nor are we to love the things which are in the world. Furthermore, the apostle John goes on to write that if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, for all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—are not of the Father, and are of the world. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for the apostle John instructs us not to love the world, while James emphatically declares that anyone who is friends with the world is at enmity with the living God. It’s quite intriguing to think about and consider the fact that James seemed to directly link the desires that was within the hearts of some—not only to friendship with the world, but also to a form of spiritual adultery. I would dare say the reason James was able to make such a strong statement was because he knew and understood that more often than not the desires within our heart reveal who and what we truly love, and where are affections truly lie. According to Jesus the greatest test of what is in our heart is that which proceeds from our mouth—a statement that indicates that what comes from our mouth is the ultimate reflection of what is present within a man’s heart. I have always believed that if you want to truly know and truly understand what is in the heart of a man you need only listen to the words which proceed out of his mouth. If you listen to what a man speaks—and not only what a man speaks, but also how he speaks—you will come face to face with the true nature and condition of the heart of that man. What’s more is that this is just as true in prayer as it is in the words which proceed from our mouth when we aren’t in the presence of the living God—when we aren’t at the altar, and/or we aren’t in the sanctuary before the living God. We must recognize and understand that even in prayer our hearts are revealed, exposed and laid bare before and in the sight and presence of the living God. Even in prayer the true nature and condition of our hearts are laid bare before and in the sight of the living God, as the LORD looks beyond what we speak with our mouths and tries and examines what is in our hearts. We must realize and recognize the absolutely astonishing reality that even when we appear before the LORD in prayer, and even when we offer up our petitions and requests to Him, the true nature and condition of our hearts are revealed and manifested in His sight. Show me how a man prayers, and show me what proceeds forth from the mouth of a man—even in prayer, supplication, intercession, and the like—and I will show you what is truly in the heart of that man. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which are found within the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written by the apostle Matthew in the fifteenth chapter of the book:
“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, hear, and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rotted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:10-20).
It’s actually quite intriguing and interesting to think about and consider the fact that David would write and declare that if we delight ourselves in the LORD He will give us the desires of our heart, and yet there are two immediate concerns I have with our understanding of what he was actually saying. The first is whether or not we are indeed delighting ourselves in the LORD, and also whether or not the desires that are found within our heart are truly after the desires which are in the heart of the living God. One of the most telling questions we can ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly delighting in the LORD our God, and there is a second question that is similar in nature—namely, whether or not the desires which are present within our hearts are desires which are indeed formed and fashioned after the desires that are in the heart of God. If we were to do a side by side comparison between the desires that are present within our heart and the desires that are in the heart of the Father—what would the results of that comparison yield? Would the desires of your heart be more in alignment with the things of this world, or would your desires be more in line with that which is in the heart of the Father? Would the desires that are present within your heart be more in tune and more in alignment with the word of God, and with that which the LORD your God desires and delights in, or would the desires that are found within your heart reveal just how close you are to the world and the things of the world. James made it very clear that friendship with the world is enmity with God, and the apostle John declared that anyone who loves the world and the things that are present therein is one who does not have the love of the Father within themselves and within their hearts. The apostle John emphatically declared that those who love the world are absent the love of the Father, and I can’t help but come face to face with the condition of my own heart and that which I desire. I can’t help but come face to face with my heart and whether or not the desires that are found therein are in alignment with the desires that are in the heart of the Father, or whether or not they are in alignment with the things of this world. Perhaps the greater question that must be asked is not so much a question regarding desires, but a question regarding delight. What I find to be so absolutely challenging about the words in the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of the Psalms is that David seems to directly link delight and desire within the hearts of men. David seems to link the desires of our heart with our delight in the living God, and it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this, for I am convinced that we cannot, we must not, and we dare not attempt to delink and separate the two realities.
There have many who would attempt to delink and separate desire and delight—desire within our hearts, and delight in the living God—and such attempts have always been and will always be futile. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that there is a reason why delight and desire are linked within this passage, for it is possible that the desires which are in our hearts are not only in alignment with the things of this world, but they are also greater than our delight in the living and eternal God. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—let me pause for a moment and ask whether or not the desires that are presently within your heart are greater than your delight in the living God. Let me take a moment to declare that if the desires that are in your heart are greater than the delight in your heart for the living and eternal God you are in a very dark and dangerous place. It is absolutely critical that we examine and understand the reality that the desires of our heart must never rise higher than our delight in the living and eternal God. If the desires of our heart somehow rise higher and are elevated to a greater place than our delight in the living and eternal God, then why and how on earth could we even think—much less actually expect—the living God would respond to our prayers and to the petitions and requests we bring before Him in His presence. I am completely and absolutely convinced that there is a great need within our hearts and lives to truly take a step back and examine whether or not the desires of our heart are greater than our delight in the living God is. There is a great need for us to truly examine the condition and nature of our hearts—to hear and listen to the words which proceed from our mouths—for it is when we hear and listen to those words we not only catch a glimpse of what is in our hearts, but also what it is we truly desire. It is when we examine the nature and condition of our hearts that we are able to discern whether or not our desires are greater than our delight in the living God. What if when David wrote the words that are found in this passage of Scripture he wasn’t speaking of God giving us the desires of our heart as though He were granting our requests and responding to our petitions? What if when David spoke of our delight in the LORD He would give us the desires of our heart suggests that the LORD will actually give us the desires of our heart—meaning He actually impregnates our hearts with godly, with holy and with righteous desires? What if when David spoke of delighting ourselves in the LORD and He will give us the desires of our heart, David was actually declaring unto his audience and readers that if they delight themselves in the LORD, He would move upon their hearts and place His desires within their hearts? Oh that we would be willing to take a careful and close look at the condition and nature of our hearts and understand whether or not the desires that are in our hearts are from the Lord and are in alignment with His word, or whether the desires that are found within our hearts are more closely aligned to the world, to the things of the world, to the love of the world, and to being enemies of the living God.
As I sit here today I am convinced that when the LORD appeared to Solomon by a dream during the night and invited him to ask Him what he would, he was trying and proving his heart to see what was actually found therein. We know and understand from the words which the LORD spoke unto Samuel that the LORD does not see as man sees, and the LORD does not look as man looks, for many looks on the outward appearance, while the LORD looks at the heart. There was not indication from the LORD whether or not He would answer Solomon’s request, and the only thing we can clearly see when reading the words which are found in the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles is that He invited Solomon to ask of Him what he would. I continue to come back to the place of what we would say and how we would respond if the LORD appeared unto us and invited us to ask of Him what we would. What would we do if the LORD appeared unto us and invited us to ask of Him what we would, and essentially leaves it open ended without putting any type of limitation or restriction upon it. Notice the living and eternal God didn’t invite Solomon to ask of Him what he would, and place parameters and boundaries upon what he could and could not ask. The LORD merely spoke unto Solomon by dream during the night and invited him to ask of Him what he would, and essentially left the rest of it up to Solomon. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for this reality brings us face to face with the nature and condition of our hearts. While it is true that the LORD hasn’t appeared unto us as He did Solomon by dream during the night, we do find Jesus speaking of our ability to ask of the Father what we would. There are specific instances which are recorded in the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ where Jesus spoke quite clearly concerning our asking the Father what we would. We would be incredibly wise to think about and consider the words which Jesus the Christ spoke within the four gospel accounts, for they help us understand that we essentially do have an invitation to ask of the Father what we would, however, that still doesn’t negate the reality of what the apostle John, the reality of what James, and that which David expressed in their writings. When we think about that which we bring and present unto the living God, we must examine the desires of our heart, we must ask ourselves if we are truly delighting in the living God, and we must understand whether or not the desires of our heart are more closely aligned to friendship with the world or fellowship with God. Consider if you will the words which our Lord spoke concerning that which we ask of the Father and our coming before Him:
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive us our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:7-13).
“Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. OR what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? IF ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him” (Matthew 7:7-11).
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:21-22).
“And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is not shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye them, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him” Luke 11:5-13).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hath believe on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:7-10).
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:16-17).
“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Fatherin my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I sat not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:23-28).
It is quite clear from the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples—yea, even unto us who are His disciples and followers in this generation—that we are to ask and we shall receive, we are to seek and we shall find, and we are to knock and it shall be opened. What’s more, is that Jesus spoke in very clear terms when speaking unto His disciples concerning their asking anything in His name, and doing so in prayer before and unto the Father. We do know and we are aware of the fact that we essentially have been given an open invitation to ask what we will of the Father, and yet the underlying question we must confront within ourselves is what are we truly asking for. What’s more, is that we must not only ask what we are asking for from the LORD, but what the desires of our heart truly are. Are we such that have had our desires truly governed, shaped and transformed by that which is in the heart of the Father, or are our desires more in line with the things of this world. Do the desires of our heart line up more closely to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, or do the desires of our heart line up with that which is found in the heart of our Heavenly Father? More specifically, we must indeed ask ourselves if our desires and that which we seek after reveals that we are children of our Father in heaven, or whether we are indeed and in fact adulterers and adulteresses. I sit here today and I can’t help but wonder how many adulterous requests the living God gets from men and women who profess to have the heart of God, and yet the desires of their heart and the expression of their mouth demonstrates their own lusts, their own pleasures, their own desires apart from that which is actually in the heart of the Father? Solomon experienced the living and eternal God appearing to him in a dream by night, and the LORD invited him to ask what he would, and there is not a doubt in my mind the LORD was trying and proving what was in the heart of this king who would sit upon the throne of his father David. It would be Solomon who would be the first king to sit upon the throne of David after David died, and it would be Solomon who would be charged with building the sanctuary for the LORD in the midst of His people. It would be Solomon who would be responsible for shepherding and leading the people of God in the nation and kingdom of Israel, which would be a tremendous burden and responsibility on his shoulders. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that the LORD would recognize this great assignment of sitting upon the throne of his father David, and that Solomon would be responsible for the people of Israel and ruling them in judgment, righteousness and truth, and the LORD would indeed appear unto him inviting him to ask what he would of the LORD. In all reality, this was a remarkable way for the LORD to test and try the heart of this young king in order to see what was in it. In all reality, I would dare say there is perhaps no greater way to test the heart of a man by inviting him to ask anything that is in his heart, and even giving him power and authority. For Solomon—not only did he have power and authority as he sat upon the throne of his father David, but he would also be invited to ask the LORD what he would. Oh how absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about the fact that the LORD would indeed appear unto this king of the nation of Israel—and not only invite him to ask what he would of the LORD, but also to test and try what was in his heart.
The more I read and the more I consider the words which are written within the Old Testament book of First Kings—words which are also found in the book of Second Chronicles—the more I am drawn to the two distinct visitations Solomon the son of David and king of Israel experienced during his time sitting upon the throne of David. If you read each of these Old Testament books you will find that Solomon first encountered the God of his father David in Gibeon when He appeared to him by dream during the night. It would be this first encounter and first visitation that would both test and try the heart of this young king, as the God of his father David would invite him to ask anything he would of the LORD. As has already been mentioned—when the living God appeared unto Solomon by dream during the night and invited him to ask of Him what he would, He never promised him he would receive what he asked for. This is actually quite intriguing and quite astonishing when you consider it in the context of our generation and that which has been spoken since the days of Jesus the Christ. It’s worth noting and understanding that James the brother of Jesus wrote that we have not because we ask not, and when we do ask we ask from adulterous hearts that we might consume what we receive upon our lusts and desires. Moreover, James goes on to emphatically declare that that one who asks with doubt, with unbelief, and perhaps even with anxiety within their hearts ought not to think that they would receive anything from the LORD because they have not asked in faith. Moreover, we have already discussed the words which David—the father of Solomon—wrote in the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Psalms when he wrote that those who delight themselves in the LORD will receive the desires of their heart. It has already been mentioned how both desire and delight are intrinsically linked to each other. Moreover, I have attempted to present you with the reality that the desires of our hearts ought never to rise higher than our delight in the living God, and we are in a dangerous place when the desires of our heart—particularly and especially if they are more in alignment with the things of this world than the heart of the Father—are greater than our delight in the living God. In all reality—when I read Solomon’s response to the invitation given him by the LORD, I can’t help but consider the fact that in that moment his response expressed the awesome and wonderful reality that his delight in the LORD was far greater than the desires of his heart, and that one thing which he did desire was a wise and understanding heart that he might faithfully and rightly govern the heritage of the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that Solomon’s request for a wise, a discerning, and an understanding heart is a powerful picture of how his delight in the LORD was far greater than the desires of his heart, and how the one thing Solomon desired was in direct alignment with the God of his father David.
As you consider the two distinct visitations Solomon king of Israel experienced you will find that the LORD God of his father David first appeared unto him at Gibeon where the Tabernacle of the congregation which Moses the servant of the LORD had set up in the wilderness. It was there at Gibeon where the living God appeared unto Solomon by dream in the night and invited him to ask of him anything he would. The second encounter Solomon had with the living, however, was drastically and markedly different from the first encounter, for the second encounter which Solomon experienced would be in direct response to the dedication of the Temple. If you read the words which are found in the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles, you will quickly and undoubtedly encounter and come face to face with the fact that this second encounter which Solomon experienced would be directly linked to the Temple and house which had just been built unto the LORD. What makes the second encounter Solomon would have with the LORD so absolutely remarkable and intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that Solomon also witnessed the divine glory and presence of the God of his father David, and the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob filling the sanctuary which had been built unto the LORD. This magnificent sanctuary and house that had been built for the name and fame of the living God, and which had been built for the glory and presence of the LORD as a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant would be christened with the very shekinah glory and presence of the living God. In all reality, we must recognize and understand that the glory and presence of the living God which filled this newly established sanctuary and Temple in the midst of the people was an emphatic statement of approval over the sanctuary in the midst of the people of God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for just as the glory of the living God filled the Tabernacle which was built in the wilderness, so now would the glory of the same God fill this new Temple which would be built in the midst of the inheritance and possession of the people of Israel. What we must recognize and understand is that there is an apparent link between the glory of the LORD filling the Temple which Solomon had built unto the LORD and the visitation of the living God to Solomon the very night the Temple of the living God was dedicated. I invite you to first consider the narrative and account of the glory filling the Temple of the LORD and the LORD appearing unto the king as it is written and recorded in the book of First Kings, and then consider the same narrative as it is written in the book of Second Chronicles:
“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:10-11).
“And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, that the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which hour hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes, and my judgments: then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments, and my statues, which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: and at this house, which is hight, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (1 Kings 9:1-9).
“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (For all the priests that were present were sanctified, and di not then wait by course: also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets) it came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:11-14).
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faced to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
“Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected. And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and prayer, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attention unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statues and my judgments; then will I establish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. But if ye turn away, and forsake my statues, and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the lORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them” (2 Chronicles 7:11-22).
It’s quite astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that when the LORD appeared unto Solomon by night a second as He had previously done at Gibeon, the Temple of the living God had not only been finished, but it had also been dedicated by Solomon king of Israel. When the living God appeared unto Solomon this second time, it would be after the sanctuary was hallowed and consecrated through worship, through prayer, through sacrifice, through praise, and through the tremendous unison and unity of the people of Israel, the priests of the LORD, the Levites, and even Solomon king of Israel. What’s more, is that when the living God appeared unto Solomon this second time, it would be directly linked to the glory filling the sanctuary which had just been built in the midst of Jerusalem, as well as the fire of God coming down from heaven in the sight of all the people and consuming the burnt offering which was upon the altar. How absolutely remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that not only had the glory of the living God completely filled the house and hallowed and sanctified it, but so also did the living God send fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice and burnt offerings which were upon the altar. This is even more astonishing when you consider that a similar reality took place during the days of Moses when the Tabernacle was reared up, for after the completion of the Tabernacle—not only did the glory of the living God fill the Tabernacle, but so also would the fire of the living God come out from the Holy of Holies and consume the sacrifice and offering which was upon the altar. SANCTIFIED BY FIRE AND GLORY! Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous importance of the fire and the glory, and that we would ask ourselves if what we have built and what we have set up within our lives is truly pleasing in the sight of the LORD. Can the LORD place His holy and sacred name upon that which we have built within our hearts and lives, and can the LORD consecrate, sanctify and hallow that which we have built and set up within our lives by and through His holy and consuming fire, as well as His divine glory and presence? Both the Tabernacle and Temple were sanctified and consecrated by the glory and presence of the living God, and I can’t help but wonder how many of our sanctuaries, how many of our buildings, how many of our structures and edifices have truly been hallowed and sanctified by the glory and presence of the living God. I can’t help but wonder whether or not the living God could and even would consecrate that which we have made and that which we have set up within our lives with His glory and with His holy fire, for the glory and the fire are a profound and emphatic endorsement of what we have built and what we have set up in the midst of our land. Can the glory of the living God and the all consuming fire of the living God truly come upon that which we have built and that which we have established within our hearts and lives as it did the Tabernacle and Temple during the days of the children of Israel?
With all of that being said, it’s truly unique to think about and consider the fact that when the living God appeared to Solomon a second time as He had appeared unto him at Gibeon, it was directly on the heels of Solomon’s experiencing the glory and presence of the living God filling the sanctuary, as well as the fire of the living God coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifice and offering that was upon the altar. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE GLORY, THE PRESENCE OF THE FIRE, AND THE VISITATION OF THE LIVING GOD! How truly unique it is to think about how not only did the glory of the living God appear within and fill the whole sanctuary—so much so that the priests could not enter or stand therein—and not only did the fire of God come down from heaven upon the altar with the sacrifices and offerings upon it, but so also would the LORD appear unto Solomon. What we must realize and recognize concerning this second appearance and this second manifestation of the living God was that it would indeed carry with it a promise concerning this house which had just been built, for the LORD would declare unto Solomon that His eyes and His ears would be attentive unto the house that was built, and that He would place His name there perpetually. With that being said, however, we must understand that this second visitation—although it did in fact come with a promise from the LORD—it would also come with a powerful word of caution and warning. This second visitation would come with a warning and word of caution—not only for Solomon, but also for the children of Israel themselves. Although the glory of the living God had indeed filled the sanctuary, and although the fire of the living God had fallen upon the sacrifice and offering upon the altar, the LORD would cast this house as profane out of His sight and out of His presence if Solomon and/or if the people themselves forsook the LORD and turned their backs on Him by worshipping strange and foreign gods. The LORD would declare unto Solomon that if His people which were called by His name would humble themselves, and pray, and seek his face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would he hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. Even with that being said, it’s important that we understand the reality that the living God can indeed and can in fact turn His back upon that which He at one point hallowed, and that which He at one point sanctified with His glory and His presence. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which are written and found within this passage of Scripture, for there is a tremendous warning contained within these words concerning our turning our backs on the LORD by forsaking Him to follow and worship false and strange gods. As we will see in the next writing, Solomon—this one who had not only experienced two distinct visitations from the LORD, and this one who had not only built the sanctuary and Temple of the living God, but also this one who had witnessed and experienced both the fire and glory of the living God—would himself end up turning his back on the LORD and forsaking Him during the later years of His life. It would come about during the latter years of his lives that his love for strange women would have such an impact and affect on him as his wives would turn his hearts away from worshipping, serving and following the living God, and he would begin worshipping and serving the false and strange gods of the nations round about the land of Israel. Oh that we would read and consider these two visitations of the living God within the heart and life of Solomon king of Israel and that we would understand how the living God interacts with us, and what the LORD our God doth require of us in this generation and in the days in which we live.