1 Kings - Making decisions

Background

According to tradition, Jeremiah is the author of 1 and 2 Kings. The first part of the book describes the events leading to Solomon's becoming king even though he wasn't the eldest living son of David. The book also described his greatness, especially in building the temple.

The Bible clearly notes that Solomon had faults as well as elements of greatness. The "seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines" came from many of the kingdoms with which Solomon had treaties (1 Kings 11:1). He apparently allowed his wives to worship their native gods and even had altars to these gods constructed in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7-8). This sin lead to the empire built by David being split in two at the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-12:25; see 1 Kings 3:2-3).

The last part of the book describes the ministry of the prophet Elijah. His first miracle was associated with his prophecy before King Ahab (1 Kings 17:1) in which he said there would be no rain or dew apart from his declaration. On Mount Carmel his greatest public miracle involved his encounter with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19-40). In response of Elijah's prayer, Yahweh rained fire from heaven to consume the wet wood. As a result of their deception, Elijah ordered the false prophets killed.

Theme

The book of 1 Kings has many examples of people making decisions and how they went about doing it. Different ways lead to different consequences.

Different ways of making decisions

Consulting self

(1 Kings 11:1-2 NIV) King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter--Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. {2} 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." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.

Solomon knew that he was not supposed to have foreign wives. But he went ahead to do it anyway. Many times we make decisions considering nothing but what we would like to do. We pay no attention to what God says. The consequence of this type of decision making is disastrous. We were told that Solomon's foreign wives led him into idolatry just as God said they would.

(1 Kings 11:3-5 NIV) He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. {4} 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. {5} He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.

Nevertheless, consulting self is not in itself a bad way to come to decisions. God gave us common sense which He intends for us to use. This method is most suitable for small decisions like what to eat, what to wear, etc. God does not expect us to consult Him before turning every corner. Yet He would like us to consult Him for big matters.

Consulting self is bad if we rely on it totally and not consult God.

Proverbs 3:5­6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

It is not wrong to use our own understanding, but wrong to lean on it (or use it entirely for support).

Consulting others

(1 Kings 21:1-5 NIV) Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. {2} Ahab said to Naboth, "Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth." {3} But Naboth replied, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers." {4} So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. {5} His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, "Why are you so sullen? Why won't you eat?"

King Ahab made his decision to claim the field by force after consulting with his wife. There is nothing wrong with consulting with loved ones before making decisions. However, we should also test to see if their suggestions are in accordance with the Lord. It is also important to select the people we seek advice from. If we seek advice from people who openly defy the Lord, what kind of advice can we expect to get? Yet if we seek out the advice of people who walk close to God, we know that God may be using them to give us good advice.

Another example of consulting advice from bad company can be found in 1 Kings 12:1-17.

Consulting false prophets and failure to heed to God's prophets

(1 Kings 22:10-17 NIV) Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. {11} Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.'" {12} All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. "Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious," they said, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." {13} The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, "Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably." {14} But Micaiah said, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me." {15} When he arrived, the king asked him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Attack and be victorious," he answered, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." {16} The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" {17} Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'"

Even Christians can be guilty of relying on false prophets. While we do not go to mediums, some Christians consult false prophets of a more subtle nature. These may be astrology, geomancy, horoscopes, etc. These are all of a Satanic origin.

(Isaiah 47:12-14 NIV) "Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. {13} All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. {14} Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.

The Bible is clear that only God knows the future. All other forms of foretelling are of the devil.

(Jeremiah 14:14 NIV) Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

Consulting God

(1 Kings 3:9-10 NIV) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" {10} The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

Needless to say, the best way to make decisions is by consulting the Lord. God promises that if we acknowledge Him in our decision-making, He will make straight our paths.

Proverbs 3:5­6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Consulting God includes both praying for the Holy Spirit to reveal God's intentions to us but also actively seeking His word to see if His directions are also clearly stated therein.

John 14:26 (NIV) But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Psalms 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Doing an inventory of our own decision making style.

Name three important decisions that you have made.

E.g.

1. Choosing life partner

2. Buying a house/car

3. Taking on a new job

How did you come to the decision?

1.

2.

3.

What are the big decisions that you foresee making in the near future?

1.

2.

3.

How can you make such decisions in a better way?

1.

2.

3.