By Charles E. McCracken
GROW February 9
Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? I KINGS 3:9
TODAY’S TEXT: 1 KINGS 3:4-28
Shortly after David’s death, the Bible records the new king traveled to sacrifice at the Tabernacle site. Solomon’s journey to Gibeon some seven miles northwest of Jerusalem was not a private event. A parallel passage records, Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon (1 Chr. 1:3). (1) The event apparently lasted several days with 1,000 sacrifices provided by Solomon for the offerings during the gathering.
Although not specifically stated, Solomon’s purpose behind the pilgrimage to Gibeon was to seek God’s blessing on his reign. In what seems to be God’s response to the multitude of sacrifices, the Lord said to Solomon in a dream, Ask! What shall I give you? (1 Ki. 3:5) Solomon’s answer to the Lord within the context of the dream is not only enlightening, but also crucial to our understanding of the event.Solomon began by recounting elements of the Davidic Covenant—it was God who promised David a perpetual dynasty, an everlasting kingdom and an eternal throne. God chose Solomon as David’s successor—the next in the familial line of Messiah. Solomon’s restatement of God’s promises demonstrated profound gratitude for all God had done in fulfilling the covenant made with his father.
God already pledged to establish his kingdom; and, in genuine humility Solomon confided to the Lord, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in (1 Ki. 3:7). The phrase “to go out or come in” is taken from God’s appointment of Joshua to lead the people (Nu. 27:15). It refers to administration, decorum and leadership in shepherding the nation of Israel. Solomon was simply acknowledging his inexperience (1 Chr. 22:5; 29:1).
Basing his request on what God had already promised, Solomon asked God for, an understanding heart to judge Your people (2 Sam 7:13-16; 1 Ki. 3:9). The phrase “understanding heart” is literally “hearing heart,” a heart attune to God’s word. Interestingly, the words “hear” and “obey” have the same Hebrew root (shema). An obedient heart is a hearing heart; a hearing heart is an obedient heart. Solomon acknowledged that successful leadership of Israel required wisdom only God could give.
God was pleased. Solomon’s request demonstrated humility rather than self-aggrandizement—a willingness to submit to God’s authority rather than selfish ambition.
God granted his request. Solomon would indeed be wise, not just wiser than his predecessors, but the wisest king on the earth (v. 12; 4:29-31).
In addition, Solomon would be granted riches and honor to the extent, that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days (v. 13). In all that God promised, there was only one condition, if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days (v. 14). If Solomon faithfully adhered to the will of God and obeyed the Law of Moses, God would extend his life.
Thankful for God’s promises, Solomon and his court returned with joy to Jerusalem where he offered more sacrifices before the Ark of the Covenant and prepared a feast for his servants (v. 15).
Like Saul and David, his father, Solomon was exalted in the eyes of the people at the beginning of his reign. Saul and David were given military victories that bolstered their reputation among the people. God gave Solomon a judicial challenge to demonstrate his wisdom.Two mothers came to him with two babies—one alive—the other one dead. They both claimed the dead child belonged to the other having been switched during the night. In a classic demonstration of justice, Solomon called for a sword threatening to give each mother half of the living child. He wisely identified the woman pleading for the child’s life as the real mother. His first act of jurisprudence was only the beginning of Solomon’s multi-faceted career as king.
In an era, when aggressive self-promotion bordering on narcissism is encouraged as a virtue in nearly all sectors of our society, the way to please God remains unchanged. We, like Solomon, must come in humility seeking God’s wisdom and blessing.
Solomon demonstrated godly character, genuine humility and a desire to please God. And, therein lies the secret to success in life. God rewarded him with the judicial wisdom he solicited, but also included unprecedented wealth and fame—two things most men crave, but rarely attain.
1) Since the Ark of the Covenant had not been housed within the Tabernacle for more than 100 years, God permitted other localized worship centers throughout Israel. The Tabernacle containing the original objects of worship including the altar created by Bezalel remained the primary location (“high place”) for sacrifice (Ex. 31:2; 1 Samuel 7:11; 1 Chr. 1:5-6).
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, text content only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the NKJV.