Today’s text is from 1 Kings 3:7-15. It is about Solomon’s request from God about leading God’s people:
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 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?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream. (Contemporary English Bible)
The thing that strikes me most about this story is that God actually invites Solomon to ask for whatever he wants in verse 4. Solomon chooses to ask not for himself, but for his community, because he understands leadership is not about him.
Proverbs says that there are steps to acquiring wisdom. The first step is fear of God (Proverbs 9:10). You can’t become wise without humility, without realizing you are not God, without acknowledging that your knowledge is frail, incomplete, and prone to error. Solomon even refers to himself as “a little child.” Another step is to desire wisdom (Proverbs 4:5). According to the author, desiring wisdom and fearing God are basically the same thing.
There is no wisdom without humility. No learning without desire.
Israel told its history as an object lesson in the character qualities that made for good and for poor leadership. Their political theology was rooted in the idea that the laws of God and society are like laws of nature. Wisdom is an appreciation and application of those laws. To be a good leader, one must be a student of human nature and one’s own character. Those leaders who did not “seek God” disparaged the poor and created chaos in the nation.
It pleased God that Solomon asked for wisdom. It was a sign that Solomon was already on the right path. Wisdom is a gift not just for ourselves, but for everyone connected to us in the web of our relationships. Whether we are wise or not is not an evaluation we can make for ourselves. It is proved by our conduct.
Pray for wisdom.
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