“The wisdom of Solomon.” That’s a phrase that Laura and I have been using a lot this morning. I just read 1 Kings 3, the passage where God asks Solomon: “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” What an offer. My answer might sound like this: “The winning lottery ticket sounds good God, and maybe a nice big house with a backyard and a man cave.” God after asking that is bound by His word, and Solomon knows he can receive anything he wants and here is his response, “Give me an understanding heart.” Let’s back things up really quickly. Solomon has been thrust into leadership after his father David gave him the throne on his deathbed. Solomon is around 20 years old and is overnight, placed in the position of leading the nation of Israel. At 20, wisdom is not something I wanted, in fact I specifically remember avoiding the book of proverbs because I thought wisdom was worthless. I didn’t get the appeal of wisdom. Power, that I could understand because power seemed useful. Wisdom is a quiet gift. It’s a gift for the humble, reverent, and thoughtful, and that doesn’t exactly describe the 20 year olds I know. What an incredible response to God offering him anything. Let’s dig deeper. Let’s look at 3 things that Solomon does right in the eyes of God.
#1 – Solomon pursued God
Solomon in this passage goes to, at the time, the most important place of worship in the kingdom called Gibeon. While he was there he gave 1,000 burnt offerings. What an extravagant offering to give to God. Why would God come to him and offer him anything he wanted? Maybe God would give him anything he wanted because everything he had belonged to the Lord! Solomon at the time had a heart devoted to the Lord. As a new king, he pursues worship first and places a high priority on a personal relationship with God as king.
#2 – Solomon was incredibly humble
Imagine you were 20 and thrust into the highest position in the land. Power like that can go to someone’s head. In fact, many people struggle with selfish ambition. They look at a leader and think: “I can do it better.” As a young person, I’ll admit that most unwise young people think they are capable of more than they really are. We see this attitude in his brother Adonijah (read 1 Kings 1-3). Many people have the talent and the ability that they think will make them a great leader, but what they fail to realize is that great leadership is not based on one’s talent or charisma, it’s based on one’s character and wisdom. Solomon was so void of this mindset that he admitted: “I am like a little child who does not know their way around.” Most young people are trying to convince people of their competency! “I’m an adult.” “I know what I’m doing!” If I could be vulnerable with you for a second, those mentalities are deep inside me, and most young people may not admit it, but it’s in them too. Why does God trust a child with the nation of Israel? Because a child doesn’t come up with their own answers, they run to a parent for them. God needed a man who would run to Him.
The phrase “an understanding heart” is literally translated “a hearing heart.” Thus what Solomon asks for is that he would have a heart that hears the voice of God on the matters of leading the nation. We have all been given leadership, do you desire to hear God’s voice about matters of leading what he’s given you? Are you hearing God’s voice for the house church you lead? Are you asking for God’s heart in the family matters you are dealing with? Admit it. God throws us into positions that none of us are equipped for and we are all children who don’t know their way. You have an infinitely wise father who can counsel you.
#3 – Solomon didn’t have a hint of selfishness in him
God answers Solomon by saying: “because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies – I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for – riches and fame!” Solomon didn’t want fame or riches, or for God to send a hit man after his enemies! Solomon wanted to govern in a way that was honoring to God. What a beautiful heart this man had! Selfish ambition is an ugly sin that not many people talk about. In the bay area, we view ambition as a good thing! We tell people, “follow your dreams” and “make something of yourself. “ Mentalities like this though can so easily, and subtly, be colored by selfishness. What’s so amazing about this passage is, God gave Solomon what he didn’t want! I have a feeling that God gives fame to those who don’t want it, because those who don’t want it are the ones who can truly be trusted with it. Fix your eyes on honoring God with what He’s given you and God just might give you more than you ask for! Make your life about honoring him and he will honor you.