With lockdowns being gradually eased in many countries, people are beginning to face the uncertainty of what is termed a ‘new normal’. Job losses, pay and allowance cuts, financial losses and business closures stare us in the face. At a difficult time like this, we can however go back to the scriptures to get fresh perspective and encouragement to navigate our future post COVID-19.
Around two years ago, I was reading through 1 Kings 5 and noted down some thoughts I gleaned then but never shared. However, at this time, I would like to put those thoughts down, 12 in all, to inspire those facing uncertainty about the future. At this point however, I would like to clarify that I am sharing these thoughts, not as an expert on business matters, but only as a Pastor.
Background To Bible Passage:
In 1 Kings 5, Solomon had now become King over Israel, and felt the need to build the temple of God. His father David had the same dream in his heart but the Lord did not permit David to fulfil his desire (1 Chronicles 22:7-8) . David however made extensive preparations for Solomon to complete the project for God’s glory (1 Chronicles 22:5).
At this time, Hiram, the King of Tyre, sent his Ambassadors to congratulate Solomon on becoming King (I Kings 5:1). Solomon used the opportunity to ask Hiram for help to complete the massive task. According to what he proposed, Hiram would provide Solomon with the timber he needed for the building program while Solomon would pay handsomely for the timber in return (1 Kings 5:6).
Here are 12 observations from this passage which I trust will help you navigate through the challenging post COVID-19 scenario . (This will be a 2-part Bible study and in this study, I will be covering points 1-7). So, let’s move to point 1.
1) Ask God for Unique Wisdom – Post COVID-19
1 Kings 5:12 says that the Lord gave Solomon wisdom just as He had promised. As we well know, Solomon was considered the wisest man that lived and his wisdom and amazing depth of knowledge could be seen in 1 Kings 4:29-34. in 1 Kings 5:7, Hiram too recognized the wisdom God had placed on Solomon.
Friend, if ever we needed the wisdom of God desperately, it is right now, in the post COVID-19 situation. Ask Him for supernatural wisdom to make the right decisions and to navigate the current challenges successfully. He will give you new ideas, new thoughts and inspire you in new ways.
Recently, I was talking to a young businessman in our church who told me that the Lord has given him many new ideas during the lockdown. He is now planning to implement them as he returns to work again. Another told me that he was planning to use one of his hobbies to implement a new business idea. I believe these ideas have come from the Lord and when implemented, will bring positive results, and enhance their income as well!
Yes, my friend, if ever we needed God’s wisdom desperately, we need it now. The wonderful thing is that the Bible tells us that God will give us wisdom and that He will honor our request (James 1:5). So, ask Him, now.
2) Right Partnerships – Post COVID-19
As we face the reality of the challenges ahead, many would be looking for new opportunities and maybe for new business or work partnerships. But note that we need to prayerfully consider any such partnership we get into post COVID-19. The last thing we need right now is an unhealthy work partnership that creates more issues than solutions. Therefore, choose your partnerships very carefully and prayerfully,
As a Pastor, it has been extremely heartbreaking for me to counsel people who entered into bad business or work partnerships. Many of them have faced severe consequences as a result. On the other hand however, a right partnership will certainly bring much blessing.
Solomon saw In Hiram a loyal, trustworthy partner who had been a good friend and a faithful ally to his father David. Added value was seen because the relationship between David and Hiram had probably been a lasting one. (Refer 1 Kings 5:1 ; 2 Samuel 5:11). (The NIV Study Bible in its notes on 2 Samuel 5:11 says, “A close relationship existed between these two realms until the Babylonian invasions”). Solomon therefore opened up a conversation towards a possible working partnership with Hiram.
So, let’s seek God’s guidance and prayerfully consider any new partnerships that may come our way at this difficult time.
3) Solomon made his Vision Clear and Described it as a Big Project
If we read 2 Chronicles 2:5-6, (which is the parallel passage to this story), we see Solomon describing the temple as being built for the greatest God, who cannot be contained even in the highest heavens. He uses words like ‘great’, ‘large’ and ‘magnificent’ to showcase the temple he was planning to build (2 Chronicles 2:5,9). I can’t help feeling that when Hiram received the proposal, he would have been greatly excited. He probably thought to himself, ‘Wow, this is a powerful project with clear vision. I definitely want to be a part of this”.
Most people at present are talking about slowdowns, cuts, closures, post COVID- 19, and I understand what they are saying. The immediate future is going to be really tough all round and recovery will take time. However, I would encourage you to trust God for a clear vision and a big plan for your future. Trust Him to guide you through the immediate challenges . May He give you such a vision and plan that others will see the strength of it and say ‘I want to be a part of that’!
When the People’s Church had a congregation of about 100-150 believers, our Founder Pastor, Dr Colton Wickramaratne, spoke about the vision God had given him. He spoke of a large building that would seat thousands who would attend. As a young boy, attending the services in a small rented hall at that time, I must admit that at times, I was skeptical about whether this vision would ever come true. However, our faith grew as we continued to minister and today, we have seen the reality of what Pastor Colton prophesied decades ago!
4) The Power of Delegation
1 Chronicles 22:5, says that “David made extensive preparations (for the temple) before his death”. From 1 Chronicles 22:6-13, we see that he delegated this responsibility to Solomon and in 1 Chronicles 22:17-19, he delegated the work further down to his national leaders.
When Solomon and Hiram came together on the project, Solomon delegated part of the work to Hiram, and both in turn, delegated some tasks to capable Supervisors and a strong workforce. Solomon, on his side had probably between 3300-3850 Supervisors (see note on 1 Kings 5:16 in NIV Study Bible) who had oversight over a 150,000 strong labor force (1 Kings 5: 15-17). This meant that each Supervisor had to oversee the work of around 40-45 workers. It was a plan of delegation that worked very well at that time.
When God gives us a plan, He does not expect us to try and do it all by ourselves. There are many aspects we can delegate to other competent people. We do not need to spend time doing what someone else can do, maybe even better than us. So, it would be a wise decision to delegate some of the plans to responsible, trustworthy people.
5) Right Timing – Post COVID-19
Having the right timing in anything new we plan to do at this difficult time is so important. Someone once said, “God is never too early, He’s never too late, He’s always on time”. We need to seek God’s timing in all areas of our life, and wait for His guidance. Everything will fall into place beautifully when He directs our paths.
Solomon chose the right time to start his massive project. The environment was right for such a big project (1 Kings 5:4), the nation was prospering (1 Kings 4:21), people were happy (1 Kings 4:20, 25), there was peace (1 Kings 4:24) and safety (1 Kings 4:25). Solomon also draws reference to the fact that all wars and national dangers had been eradicated (1 Kings 5:4).
The biggest response I have ever had to anything I have posted online was an article that drew over 100k responses. I have never ever had anything close to such a response for one of my articles, before or after. As I have tried to understand why this could have happened to this one article, the only explanation I could come up with was that the article coincided with a very important world event. The timing of it was therefore possibly a determining factor.
Trust and wait for God’s timing.
Let’s move now to point 6.
6) Put Your Thoughts in Writing – Post COVID-19
I Kings 5:12 says, ” The Lord gave Solomon wisdom , just as He had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty”.
We see that Solomon and Hiram made a successful treaty. Similarly, when God speaks something powerful to us, or when entering into a partnership, it’s always good to write things down. This is important for a number of reasons, two of which are,
a) You may forget some of the finer details over time. Writing them down would therefore help you to go back and remember such details, or to renew your vision when challenges come.
b) It may save you much trouble in the future, especially if you are entering into a partnership.
The treaty between Solomon and Hiram ensured a smooth relationship at the time. The New International Bible Commentary says, “This mutually profitable treaty is described as bringing peaceful relations – not the cessation of war, but harmonious relationships of trade and goodwill“.
Too often in my ministry I have had to counsel people hurting over being defrauded in a business partnership. At times the amounts they mention are staggering. My first inquiry from them always is whether they have a document in writing. To my astonishment, the defrauded person has often indicated that nothing was put in writing, because they trusted the partner. How sad! If only something had been documented in writing, the problem may have been solved more easily!
The Lord told Habakkuk, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation waits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:2-3).
7) The Treaty was a Win-Win for Both Parties
According to the treaty, Hiram would provide all the needed timber which included Cedars of Lebanon, Pine and Algum wood (2 Chronicles 2:8). For his part, Solomon was willing to pay handsomely. The payment included wheat and olive oil for Hiram’s household (1 Kings 5:11), and wheat, olive oil, wine and barley for the labor force (2Chronicles 2:10). Solomon would also provide a strong labor force of 30,000 men to help Hiram with ‘Operation Timber’ (1 Kings 5:13-14).
Considering the above, the treaty is shown to be very specific in detail and created a win – win partnership for both parties. It worked well for the massive project ahead as well!
In the same way, when we follow God’s vision and guidance in the days ahead, and the Lord begins to bless our efforts, we need to make sure that those who assist us are also blessed in return. We need to give them adequate credit for their efforts. Someone said, “Bad leaders take all the credit without recognizing the team when a project goes well, but they quickly find scapegoats when a project fails”. Let’s be different.
Another thought that comes out as we look at the treaty is that most, if not all the payment, was made in kind, and not in cash. During the difficult days ahead, post COVID-19, we may have to look at such options to ease out any income deficiencies we encounter through loss of business, salary cuts, loss of employment etc. Let me share a few simple thoughts that I was pondering on:
* Having a balanced diet combined with regular exercise, could maybe bring our health bills down.
* Knocking off lights, air conditioners and other appliances when not in use will help reduce our utility bills. Repairing leaking taps will also help.
* Cutting down on unnecessary trips temporarily may help with our transportation costs.
* Those with garden space could maybe consider growing some food items to reduce marketing costs.
* Any extra skill you may have could be invested to bring in additional resources.
You can maybe add to the list as the Lord leads you.
My second son had bad eczema from the age of one. For many years thereafter, he, and we, struggled intensely with the problem. At one point a Doctor recommended a new Moisturizing Lotion that worked extremely well for him. Of course, we were quite thrilled about it. There was one problem however. It was very expensive! Besides that, there was added medication that we had to purchase regularly.
After about 3 months I think, I realized that we could not sustain this expense through our income. But since we needed the Lotion, I took it to the Lord in prayer. After praying, I thought of checking on its background. To my shock, I found that the cost in the country of manufacture, Australia, for double the quantity we were purchasing, was roughly 1/4th the price. To cut a long story short, since that day, we have managed to get all our requirements from over there in small quantities. . In the process, we have saved a lot of money that has been put to better use! It was truly an unexpected win for us. (Thankfully, we need very little of it now as my son is doing fine).
I trust the thoughts covered in this study (Part 1), will help you navigate effectively through the challenges of post COVID-19. The Lord will certainly help you, so don’t give in to discouragement.
That brings us to the close of Part 1 of this study. Points 8-12 are covered in Part 2 which has also been published on this site. The link to Part 2 is given below. Please share with others if you have been blessed. Thank you.