When I was young I believed that the apostles had it made because they got to see Jesus in the flesh. If I had lived then, my reasoning went, it would be easy to believe.
As I began to study the Bible, I started to see things differently. Bible Study Fellowship this year included the life of King Solomon, who did see God (twice) and was the most blessed person on earth at the time–enjoying unsurpassed wisdom and wealth. A son of David, whom the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart.” Solomon also inherited a legacy of faith in the one true God.
His life’s calling was to build God’s house; a permanent dwelling place for a God who had been on the move with his people for generations.
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the Lord appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.1 Kings 9:1-2
But Solomon learned the hard way that seeing is not believing. Abundant blessings. A life of great purpose. Wisdom. Leadership. Fame. All of this did not lead Solomon to live for God, in fact, instead it lured him into believing in himself as the source of all that was good in his life, leaning on his own understanding and doing as he saw fit in his own eyes.
The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.1 Kings 11: 9-10
I can look at King Solomon and see that he is a foil to King Jesus in God’s grand narrative. Even the most acclaimed, blessed, wise and faithful human king possesses a sinner’s heart, and is tempted by the old familiar, yet deadly sins, that have led to the downfall of humans great and small since the original Fall.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.1 Corinthians 10:13
Seeing sin play out in the life of Solomon, ultimately costing him as well as generations to follow everything, I look inward.
From this side of Christ’s cross, I have a more complete picture of God, his plan for salvation and his presence throughout my life story than Solomon or even the apostles could have imagined. And yet, like them, I am prone to wander.
How many times do I allow the demands of my day to steal my quiet time with the Lord? How many weeks have I neglected this small act of worship to write a blog post to God’s glory? How often is my heart darkened by anger, resentment and rebellion? When sin darkens my heart it inevitably clouds my vision of the Lord.
My prayer today is that, as it says in this beautiful old hymn, we will lean not on our own understanding, but ask the God of the universe to help us see the world through his eyes that we may believe:
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light