1 Kings 3:3-5 and God’s Working With What is Available

SolomonMAIN_1869337aOne of the ways God shows grace and mercy is to work with what is available, not what ought to be. This passage in 1 Kings is a perfect illustration of this fact:

Now Solomon loved the Lord by walking in the laws of his father David, with the exception that he also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines. The king went to the great shrine at Gibeon in order to sacrifice there. He used to offer a thousand entirely burned offerings on that altar. The Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream at night.

Let’s set the stage a bit for this scene. The ark of the covenant is already in Jerusalem in the Tabernacle. It is in the place where the Temple will be built shortly. These shrines are the high places that are such a stumbling block for Israel all throughout the next several hundred years. They are places that Israel ought not to go to worship the Lord (or any of the other gods they worship there). And this is one of the warnings that Solomon will not be the perfect king even though he has all the potential to be one.

Here Solomon goes to one of these shrines that are not spiritually healthy for Israel to use. And the Lord meets Solomon there at the shrine! Obviously this is not the ideal or preferred place for an Israelite, much less the king, to worship the Lord. Later, the Lord will even call these places detestable and want them all destroyed. Yet God appears to Solomon at one of these shrines.

God will used whatever means are necessary to connect with us. God will work with whatever is available in order to draw us closer to salvation and a real relationship with him. Sometimes, as in the case with Solomon here, that may even mean meeting us in places that are not the most ideal or preferred.

As Christians, we ought to never think that God can only meet people in certain ways or in certain places. Salvation does not always come to all people in the same fashion. Not everyone walks the Romans Road. Not everyone has a radical, Damascus Road experience. Some people have their most meaningful encounter with God in places that seem to be the last place God could be found. Yet one thing is true of all people and how God works–if we are sincere in trying to find the Lord, he will reveal himself to us–wherever that may be. God will work with whatever is available to have a relationship with us because he loves us that much.

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