Read: 1 Kings 3:1-15
1 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord.
3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, 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 today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 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, 12 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. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”
15 Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants.
When King David died his son young Solomon inherited the throne. Solomon was young and inexperienced, but he had a good heart. The Lord spoke to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask one thing from me” – or, “I will grant you one wish.” Solomon asked God for wisdom to lead God’s people. That pleased God greatly. Solomon received wisdom (and more) and became a great leader. During Solomon’s reign God’s people prospered and they grew to become a very powerful nation.
This week’s spiritual insight focuses on the blessing of wisdom and God’s willingness to bestow that gift. It pleases God when wisdom is our hearts desire, especially when our intent is to further the Kingdom of God.
Yet human wisdom is flawed. Solomon was not perfectly wise, nor was he completely faithful to God.
Solomon had 700 wives, and 300 concubines (1Kings 11:3), many were political marriages to insure good relations with city-kingdoms. These many small kingdom were largely pagan, which was a violation of the Law of Moses, and scripture tells us that these wives led King Solomon astray. Human wisdom is not perfect, and human nature is corruptible, especially when power /authority are involved. The better mate paired with wisdom is humility, not power.
This is an opportunity to contrast God’s wisdom to our wisdom – and it’s not even close. St. Paul contrasted “God’s foolishness” to our human wisdom and still found the foolishness of God to be superior to human wisdom (1Corinthians 1:25 “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”). Wisdom IS a great gift, but even wisdom has its limits.
I close with a final proverb (possibly written by King Solomon): Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” As good as the virtue of wisdom is, there are limits to human wisdom. There comes a point at which wisdom wisely yields to faith. We cannot all be as wise as Solomon, but we can develop our faith like a mustard seed, to grow into a life giving, love sharing expression of the Kingdom of God.
Pastor Rob Nystrom