“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. “ 1 King 11:3:4.
According to Dake’s Annotated (concordance) Bible: There are four things to look for when reading the Bible- Commands, Prophesies, Promises and Narratives. Scholars also guide people to get nuggets from the Bible on three levels: Read, Study and Meditate. To read is to glance through, to study is to pay attention to details and to meditate is to find the relevance to your life and situation in order to apply accordingly. The failure of many to have these guidance is the reason for the lack of growth and failure of many in the church today. The majority just look for some scripture and use it indiscriminately whereas the bible strictly warns- “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15. “All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage];” 2 Tim 3:16.AMP
To describe means “give an account in words of (someone or something), including all the relevant characteristics, qualities, or events.”
To prescribe means to lay down as a guide, direction, or rule of action : ordain : to specify with authority. State authoritatively or as a rule that (an action or procedure) should be carried out.
Many years ago I rented an apartment in Warri,Nigeria. One day I went to visit my landlord who was not a Christian. Him and his friend were at a table filled with all manner of alcoholic drinks. Landlord introduced me as a Chemical Engineer, who works with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), but “he is also a pastor”. The friend looked at me with disdain and commented- “ You mean in this age and time with your education you still believe in that archaic book called the Bible? Is it not inside the bible that a man got drunk and slept with his daughters? “That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.” Gen 19:33. (You see how unbelievers can quote the bible? ) I said “yes. Such stories are in the bible for people like you -it was not recommended or prescribed for you as a life style but to serve as a warning for beer consumers like you”. I asked “how am I sure when you get drunk tonight you will not sleep with your daughters or rape a minor”?
Many people like this man do not know the difference between what is described in the bible and what God prescribes.
What the Holy Spirit taught me today is to note the difference between what God describes and what He prescribes. How do you know the difference? I will share two ways. First, whatever the bible commands is described and prescribed. For example – “Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. “ Ex 20:13-16.
The second way is to study properly and in details what is described and the narratives before and after that text. Most times the bible gives the consequences. In our reference quotation today, Solomon married 700 wives and had 300 concubines- And the bibles says-“his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God”. That means it was described but not prescribed. Those of us with one wife knows how easy it is to manage not to say something else. That is why today many scholars debate whether or not Solomon made heaven but all agree that he had knowledge and wisdom to judge the nation but not himself!
Another example is Samson who preoccupied himself with women and did not focus on fulfilling his purpose- The bible described his escapades with women, especially Delilah and how it led to his two eyes been plugged out and grinding pepper for his enemies. Judges 16. The bible described how Cain killed Abel and how he was cursed. God is not prescribing killing your brothers, or hating them as the brothers of Joseph, rather he describes those events for us to learn that they are not prescribed.
The New Testament described how Jesus sent out the disciples on mission fields and he said “occupy till I come.” That is prescribed.
Here are more examples of what is described and prescribed that can guide you:
1. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Lk 6:38
2. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.1 Cor 6:18
3. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:25
4. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren 1 Jn 3:16
5. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
Conclusion. It is clear that not everything you see that is described in the bible is automatically prescribed for you to do. God has given us the brain, wisdom and the gracious Holy Spirit to make that judgment. To me the rule of thumb to differentiate will be: if I undertake this action will it please God, help me bodily and spiritually, will it help my neighbour, and will it earn me eternity with Jesus? Anything that does not satisfy those criteria though described in the bible, are not prescribed. Shalom.
O taste and see that the Lord is good.(Psalm 34:8). I have tasted and found that the Lord is good. I do testify that the Lord is good.Join me to taste him.