“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked [for and understanding mind to govern the people, able to discern between good and evil]. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare to you. If you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” 1 Kings 3:10-14
I ask God for wisdom and discernment all the time. Sometimes I feel as if I do all right, and other times I wonder where all that ability to discern really went! Maybe I just wasn’t listening carefully enough – who knows. All Solomon wanted was for wisdom and discernment to make the right decisions, and God gave him riches, long life, and honor. Wow!
But there is a condition – walk in God’s ways and follow God’s commandments. Did Solomon do that? If we read the whole story, we realize that Solomon started out pretty well, but gradually, like his father King David, he began to stray from God’s ways. He began to let the wealth and power go to his head, and he accumulated wives and concubines as if it was a hobby.
Yet for all his failings, Solomon still did a good job of leading the people of Israel to the best of his ability. He was the underdog of David’s sons: the second child of his mother Bathsheba who was taken by David as a wife after her first husband Uriah had been set up to be killed in battle. The first child died, and when Solomon was born, he was the legitimate child of David and Bathsheba, raised in the palace with half brothers and sisters, and probably pampered considerably.
His older brothers wanted to be king, but Solomon was the appointed heir to the throne, and establishing his rule was a bloody battle as he executed many of his father’s faithful servants and even his half brothers. Most of us don’t “take down” someone else to get ahead in life, so we wouldn’t even think of that in the course of our daily routine.
Yet, I suspect all of us would like to have God promise us wisdom and discernment along with riches, honor, and long life. It makes you wonder why God did that with so many of the Biblical characters, and we don’t necessarily see that today. Or do we? Maybe we don’t define our riches in the same way. Maybe we see the responsibility that we take on when we choose to follow Christ and know that the material things aren’t the most important – relationships are.
Solomon may not have been very good at relationships, but when Jesus arrived on the scene, he taught us that God’s goal is to have a relationship with us, and, in turn, we are to have relationships with others that are healthy, balanced, and wholesome. Maybe we really HAVE been blessed with all those things and just need to look at them a little more carefully.
This week, I invite all of us to take a look at what we have – not what we don’t have. Let’s see the gifts and blessings that are with us every day: our families, friends, church, and whatever else is a blessing for us. May we see the presence of Christ in all things – that’s discernment! God bless you today and every day.