Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit


We are well into our sermon series on the life of Solomon. On one level, the study has been very difficult. With such long descriptions about building campaigns, it has been hard to find application for everyday life. On the other hand, diving into the complex and duplicitous life of Solomon has revealed the danger of compromise. We are coming to a greater understanding of the necessity of following God wholeheartedly in every area of life.

I was in a breakfast group a few weeks ago when one of the members posed an intriguing question. He asked,

If Solomon was given a discerning heart by God, how come he is able to veer so far away from God

That is a great question. If we are able to discern God, should we not have the advantage of remaining close to God and hearing his voice. How then could Solomon have disobeyed God if he was empowered with God’s wisdom? If God was revealing himself to Solomon, why did Solomon’s life have so many compromises?

While there are no easy answers, Solomon’s life seems to reveal the difference between hearing God and following God. No doubt, God offered Solomon an inside understanding to His heart. God revealed Himself to Solomon in substantial ways. Yet Solomon’s life was not one of obedience. He knew the right path, but he chose the wrong path.

One indication is that Solomon moved his pagan wives away from the Temple. We read in 1 Kings 3,

(1 Kings 3:1 NIV11-GK) Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.

We read in chapter 7 that Solomon constructed a palace for her outside of the city. In chapter 9, it is clear that she is moved away from the temple.

(1 Kings 9:24 NIV11-GK) After Pharaoh’s daughter had come up from the City of David to the palace Solomon had built for her, he constructed the terraces.

If we look closely at the language, we can see that she came up from the City. Scholars believe that her palace was on the Mount of Olives. Solomon knows that a pagan wife does not belong near the Temple. Solomon seems to compartmentalize his life. On the one hand, he has a pagan wife. On the other hand, he is a faithful worshiper of Yahweh. He knows that the two don’t belong together and yet he continues an attempt to live in both worlds. Again, Solomon has a discerning heart. There is no indication that God removed this. Yet his actions do not suggest obedience.

It is one thing to know the right path and it is another to follow it. This is the only explanation for Solomon’s situation. As we consider the issue of discernment, we need to understand the difference between hearing God and obeying God. Just because we discern His movement doesn’t guarantee our willingness to go with Him. May we be a people who both hear and obey God. May our discerning reveal God’s leading and may we have the courage to follow him into the hard places.