October 19, 2021
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 19 October 2021
Crossing a small stream in northern Italy became one of the most pivotal events in ancient history (because from that decision the Roman Empire emerged, as did the beginning of modern European culture). Julius Caesar led the Roman army to victories in Britain and Gaul, after which he was named governor of the latter, and amassed a personal fortune, in addition to exhibiting remarkable military skill. Caesar’s popularity with the people was extraordinary, and fearing his ambition, the Roman senate ordered him to resign his command and disband his army.
In January 49 BC, Caesar had a momentous decision to make. Either he could acquiesce to the senate’s command, or he could move southward to confront Pompey, who was entrusted with enforcing the edict against him. The decisive place was the Rubicon River, which was the border between Gaul and Italy. If he crossed the Rubicon with his army, Caesar would thrust the Roman Republic into a bloody civil war. When he rode his horse into the shallow waters of the Rubicon, Caesar uttered the famous phrase “the die is cast” (Lat. alea iacta est), and as his men followed, they altered history forever.
There are certain times in life that compel us to make decisions that are nothing less than momentous. We are sometimes able to recognize those defining moments, yet more frequently, we discern the magnitude of such choices only in retrospect. Defining moments (or “turning points”) in our lives are those that render apparent our most authentic values; they challenge our dedication and define our character. Life is such that we must make choices, and then, ironically, those decisions constitute our being.
Thankfully, defining moments do not occur regularly for an indelible effect remains when they do arise. Turning points in our lives sometimes arise dramatically, such as a wonderful opportunity, a potent temptation, or a personal misfortune. More frequently, such moments occur in times of thoughtful reflection. Sometimes the choices are between good and bad, and other times involve the better and the best.
The most life transforming decisions occur in response to the Word of God, as the Holy Bible reveals the depth of our being. Rarely do we have the opportunity to select our defining moments, yet we always have the potential to determine our response to those times. First Kings 3 revealed a defining moment in the life of Solomon, and the next chapter portrays significant accomplishments in his life as a result.
The primary word in the closing verses of 1 Kings 4 is “wisdom,” which occurs eight times (in one form or another). The varieties of such wisdom are described not as personal achievements; rather, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind” (v. 29). Solomon’s wisdom was renowned, yet (unlike his father David, who was known as “a man after God’s own heart,” 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22) the king’s heart was divided and thus beneath the glittering externals of his kingdom, Solomon introduced certain measures that would result in its ruin.
As it is today, wisdom was greatly valued in the ancient world; indeed, it often was celebrated in the form of proverbs, songs, or nature observations. The way of wisdom is not to trust in self; rather, as any good pilot knows, it is trusting the instrument panel so that one does not “live and learn” but learns and lives. True wisdom understands what the Bible reveals, as evident in the mastery of skill and technique (cf. Exod 35:30—36:2), and in terms of leadership (1 Kgs 3:28; 5:12). Wisdom is skill in living, which is most evident in one who reverences the Lord God (Prov 9:10). The more that you ascend positions of leadership and responsibility, the greater you need to develop your character and discipline.
Jesus Christ is “greater than Solomon” (Matt 12:42), in terms of wisdom (Col 2:3), wealth (Col 1:19; 2:9), and the provisions that He shares with his people (Eph 3:20-21). Jesus never promised an earthly life in which one can be “eating and drinking and rejoicing” as Solomon is described (1 Kgs 4:20); yet He does promise to supply every genuine need (Phil 4:10) and He will never forsake those who belong to Him (Matt 28:19-20; Heb 13:5).
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