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


In my last post on this blog, I highlighted the difference between hearing the voice of God and obeying God. It is one thing to know the right action. It is quite another to take the necessary steps of obedience. As I relate the story of Solomon to issues surrounding a discerning church, the connections are striking. In this post, I would like to consider the implication of our worship.

If we back up a bit, we understand that Solomon has been given a discerning heart by God (1 Kings 3). Certainly, Solomon is wise. He understands everything from plant life to music (1 Kings 4:29-34). The Queen of Sheba’s visit (1 Kings 10) confirms his ability to see through the most complex of situations.

(1 Kings 10:3 NIV11-GK) nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her

Yet Solomon’s actions are not wise. He directly disobeys God on several levels. He continues to accumulate gold, wives and horses in contrast to God’s law. Ultimately, Solomon’s heart turns from God as he indulges in pagan worship practices. In chapter 11, we read,

(1 Kings 11:1–2 NIV11-GK) King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.”

God knew that joining with pagan wives would eventually turn Solomon’s heart in the wrong direction. If we keep reading, we find Solomon gravitating toward pagan worship.

(1 Kings 11:2–6 NIV11-GK) Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.

Finally, Solomon reaches the pinnacle of his disobedience. He takes part in Chemosh worship.

(1 Kings 11:7–8 NIV11-GK) On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

If you research Chemosh worship, you will find that it often involved child sacrifice. This is why it was considered detestable to God’s people. It is astonishing to think that God’s chosen king stooped to this level. How could something like this happen? How could someone so wise be so foolish?

Solomon’s lack of wise action seems tied to his worship. Worship has a way of forming our hearts. For the good, worship can turn us toward God. As we sing praises, offer prayers, participate in communion and gather with other believers, we are prompted toward God-led action. In the same way, when we participate in idol worship (like Solomon), we are drawn away from God’s path. Solomon’s deviant heart is tied to his worship practices.

As we consider the implications for a discerning church, may we recognize the connection between our worship and our discerning. As we authentically worship, our hearts are turned toward God. If we are compromising our worship, lifting up the idols of our culture, our ears will become dull to God’s voice. Did Solomon continue to hear God’s voice? As he engaged in pagan worship, did the voice of God become hushed? As we strive to adequately discern God’s voice, may we seek to direct our worship to the one true God.