I Kings 3:4-4:34; Acts 6:1-15; Psalm 126:1-6; Proverbs 16:26-27
What wonderful stories about two amazing men of God! Didn’t you just love reading about Solomon and Stephen?
This is really just the beginning of Solomon’s story – there is much to come. But today’s passage is beautiful and encouraging. God comes to Solomon in a dream and offers him anything; Solomon responds in humility and gratitude and asks only for “an understanding mind to govern your people, that [he might] discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this great people?” (I Ki. 3:9). This pleases the LORD, and he gives Solomon his wish and so much more. We see evidence right away of Solomon’s wisdom as he uses great discernment to figure out which mother is telling the truth. All of Israel is amazed as their wise king.
And they also benefit as a nation because of Solomon’s reign – look what it says in the next chapter: “Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy” (1 Ki. 4:20). After the months of bad news about Israel, isn’t it nice to read such a good report?
Then we turn to our New Testament reading and meet Stephen, “full of grace and power” (Acts 6:8). There’s a problem in the early church – the Greek-speaking Jews, the Hellenists, criticize the Hebrew-speaking Jews (though both groups are Christians) for leaving their widows out of the daily food distribution. This obviously needs to be resolved, but the disciples want to be freed up to focus on their calling of evangelism; so they appoint the first deacons, men they say need to be “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (vs. 3). Everyone agrees this is a good idea and the problem is solved (oh, for ministry and church disputes to be so easily worked out today!). More and more people come to Christ, even some of the priests. Of course, this growth threatens the religious leaders of the synagogues and they want Stephen dealt with. Sadly, we will see in the days to come what happens to this righteous man. But for today, we’re able to see a beautiful picture of the body of Christ taking care of each other, growing in strength and in faith.
Hopefully, you’re encouraged, as I am, to see God’s people work together, knowing what to ask God for and loving each other well. God blesses them and they prosper. May the same be true for us today!
- Esther McCurry
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