“At Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’
Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people.”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold I give you a wise and discerning mind so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statues and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kings 3:5-14
On his death bed, David instructed his son Solomon to take over his position as king. As Solomon went to sleep that night, the Lord appeared to Him in a dream. God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”
Solomon posed his request to God in the following ways:
Asking with Humility
Solomon praised God for making him king in place of his father David. He praised God’s “great and steadfast love.” What’s more, Solomon followed his praise with humility in his statement “although I am but a child.”
He acknowledged his lack of power and wisdom as God called him to lead the people of Israel and Judah. In humility, he recognized his weakness in his understanding of how to lead. But he didn’t stop there. In acknowledging his own weakness, he called upon God’s strength. Solomon knew first hand the mightiness of God and His ability to bring strength from weakness.
Asking for an Understanding Mind
Solomon gave a simple answer to God’s question. He asked for an understanding mind to govern the people and the ability to discern good and evil.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
God was generously ready to give Solomon an understanding mind for the sake of His people. He desired for Solomon to lead with a mind of wisdom.
God was pleased with what Solomon asked for. Though he could have asked for immortality, riches, or the destruction of his enemies, He desired God’s greater gifts. God was pleased to give Solomon what he asked for and provided him with a wise and discerning mind.
Not only did God give Solomon what he asked for, God also provided him with both riches and honor. God rewarded Solomon’s humility as he simply asked for what would best help him lead the people of God. Because Solomon aligned his desires with God’s desires, he was able to reap the fullness of God’s blessings.
Walk in His Ways
God also asked that Solomon walk in his ways and keep his statutes and commandments. A few chapters later, though, we see that Solomon chose not to continue in God’s path. Instead, he went about chasing other gods and worldly desires and died shortly after.
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God gave this warning to Solomon so that in his understanding and wisdom, he would not fall away from God. Yet Solomon, like so many of us, turned his heart away from God and to the things of the world.
Imagine the impact Solomon could have had had he chosen to walk in God’s ways. We can have all the knowledge and understanding in the world, but without God, we are destined for disaster. He is the one that gives meaning and purpose to understanding.
What Can We Learn?
So often there are multiple possible answers to any given problem. It’s hard to discern which is best. But God will give us an understanding mind, if only we ask in humility, in an aim to honor and glorify God.
In our humble requests and desire to renew our minds with the Scriptures, God will begin to give us discernment that lines up with His desires.
“but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24
While Solomon was great in his understanding and wisdom, Christ is the power and wisdom of God. May we ask Him and walk in His ways, that the wisdom of Christ may be evident in our lives.