This morning I had a rich experience. I enjoyed a walk with God.
Can I tell you about it?
But first a “truth in writing” warning: you may be disappointed by my claim. The walk—what God offers me every morning—can be seen as an ordinary “quiet time.” But it’s much more than that. It’s an event as profound as anything this life offers, and it invites some reflection.
I met with him soon after my morning alarm sounded. We had about forty minutes together. I was a little distracted for the first ten minutes—my thoughts buzzing about the day ahead—but he was patient with me. This morning we talked about Solomon.
I knew about Solomon’s background. He was born to David and Bathsheba. They had a famously tragic affair—enough to qualify for modern movies. The baby born from their union died as an infant; and then Solomon was born to them—now as a married couple—soon after. A very messy story.
So it startled me to hear how much God loved Solomon. God, as the story develops, selected Solomon to replace David as king. Part of what startled me is how generous God’s forgiveness can be. David stole Bathsheba from Uriah—a noble warrior in David’s army—and then had him killed. Yet God forgave David after the king offered God his broken heart—as we read in Psalm 51. And then God included Solomon in Christ’s lineage.
Amazing stuff. And good fodder for a conversation as I asked God about it as we walked down Julia Street together after I finished my reading. How was it, I wondered, that Solomon was “loved” with such unique devotion. Solomon, I knew, would have two immediate encounters with God in the years that followed. And God gave him all the benefits we humans long for: power, prestige, wealth, and wisdom. But Solomon eventually abandoned God in favor of his love for “foreign women”—unbelievers from political weddings—and their gods.
I wondered aloud, “Lord, how did it feel to have Solomon walk away from you like that?” While I never hear his voice in answering my questions—to anyone who drives by it looks like I’m alone—I regularly find myself being drawn to think about Scriptures that engage my questions. This morning I was reminded that the Son’s work on the cross was “once, for all”—so that God doesn’t work with a set of weights when he expresses his love and covers our sins.
Then, as I considered Solomon’s life, it dawned on me that we never read of his repentance. And by the time of Nehemiah—in Nehemiah 13:26—Solomon’s fallen ways were seen as the ultimate starting point for Judea’s seventy-year Babylonian captivity. David repented; his son did not. Yet the greater Son of David and Solomon died “once for all.” So, I asked the Lord, will I see Solomon in heaven? And there was silence. God loves us and our response should be that of the prodigal son coming to his father crying, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
The conversations I have with God in the morning tend to run on through the rest of the day. Later, in the afternoon while I was working on my roof to clean off the moss, I started to reflect on the connection between what God offered Solomon: wisdom, power, and riches. The king also had physical security and a stable kingdom. He chose and used as many women as he wanted. And all these gifts then drew Solomon away from God rather than towards him.
I also remembered that later in the Scriptures, in Jeremiah 9:23-24, God warns us against a devotion to wisdom, power, and riches. Instead, he reminds us, “I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Solomon missed all this. As he delighted in the gifts God gave him—the gifts of a loving Father—Solomon turned away from the Giver to the gifts. And they became ends in themselves—objects used for self-satisfaction—rather than tokens of affection from God: as means to provide love, justice, and righteousness to God’s people.
By the end of the day—as I started this blog—I had a clear reminder in mind: “Beware, dear son, about what you wish for! Keep your eyes on my beloved Son—my greatest gift—and let his heart guide you into my love, justice, and righteousness. Because I delight in these things.”
Our broader point isn’t to end here with a moral-to-the-story; but to invite us to see our times with God in Bible reading as moments for companionship and conversation. And to dismiss a common tradition of treating a “quiet time” as a religious duty.
Treating our approaches to God and his word as a duty only demeans him and hardens a given believer’s heart. How? By ignoring the promise that the Father and the Son have come, by the Spirit, “to make our home with him” (John 14:23). Once our focus is right I can promise you this: walking with God is the greatest gift he’s ever given us.