King Solomon is one of my favorite persons in history. The wisdom and knowledge that he shares in the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes has become the cornerstone for my philosophy of life. Not only does Solomon give us wisdom and truth that is ageless, he does it with simplicity. I love simplicity.
In 1 King 3:5-14 we learn how Solomon gained this wisdom.
Solomon has just been anointed king by his father David who passes away shortly after anointing Solomon.
Solomon has vanquished those who tried to usurp his reign and now realizes just how much power has been placed on his head. Solomon will reign over, “a great people too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.”
God asks Solomon, “What shall I give you?”
What does Solomon ask for? He knows he has the favor of God. God had Solomon made king when Solomon’s brother tried to beat him to it by declaring himself king. Solomon could ask for more wealth, more power, revenge over all his enemies, etc. I’m sure these are the things today’s leaders would ask for if they could.
But Solomon asks for wisdom. He asks for, “an understanding mind to govern…that I may discern between good and evil.” Solomon is asking for the wisdom to do what is right, what is righteous.
This pleases God. God grants Solomon what he asked for. God grants Solomon, “understanding to discern what is right.” God says to Solomon, “Behold I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall rise after you.”
And for this righteous request God tells Solomon he will give him what he didn’t ask for, which was riches and honor. And if Solomon keeps God’s statues and commandments he will lengthen his days.
Now I know why Solomon was one of the wisest persons in history. Solomon did not seek wealth, power, honor or the approval of his colleagues. Solomon sought righteousness and for that he was truly rewarded.
Seek righteousness for it is its own reward.
Here is the text of 1 Kings 3:5-14.
And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “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 will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
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