We marvel at the snippets of Solomon’s wisdom that are recorded in scripture for us. The book of Proverbs is only an example of his wisdom. At that time, there were no news channels or social media feeds that would permit someone to experience Solomon’s wisdom and wealth. It’s even more amazing, then, that Solomon’s fame quickly spread throughout the world. Other rulers traveled great distances just to meet Solomon and experience his wisdom and power.
I imagine you are familiar with the basics of the story of how Solomon received wisdom. Soon after succeeding his father David as king, the young man Solomon traveled to Gibeon to offer sacrifices. You can read the whole story in 1 Kings 3. While there, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Now, place yourself in Solomon’s shoes for just a minute. What do you ask for as a young king? Power to defeat all your enemies? Great wealth? Obedience from all your subjects?
The way we generally tell the story, Solomon asked for wisdom. But that isn’t how he actually phrased his request. When God told Solomon he could ask for anything, Solomon didn’t hesitate at all and replied,
“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?” 1 Kings 3:6-9
It’s interesting that Solomon didn’t use the word “wisdom” in his request. God was the one who defined this as a request for wisdom (1 Kings 3:10-14). Solomon’s words give us an excellent description of what wisdom really is, but let’s hold that conversation for another time.
I love the way Solomon phrased his request, and I want to explore that at another time as well. This is clearly something he’s thought about a great deal. God was pleased with Solomon’s request and told Solomon he would give him not only wisdom, but great wealth, honor, and a long life.
Now, think back through the story; if Solomon hadn’t yet received wisdom, then how was he wise enough to come up with such a wise request? Solomon actually answers our question in Proverbs 4. He tells us here that he learned this from his father from the time he was a young boy. This was clearly one of the messages David regally taught his son. What would have happened if David had not been bold enough to teach this to this son? Solomon might have asked for worldly values like wealth and power, and the great store of wisdom he received from God would have been lost.
Here are a couple challenges for us to consider:
- What are you regularly asking to receive form the Lord? The Lord not only welcomes, but desires us to ask. Therefore, let’s ask for wisdom. Accept and follow the promise of James 1:5.
- We are amazed by Solomon’s wisdom, but I want to remind us that Jesus is greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31). Paul also tells us that Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Therefore, the life-changing wisdom available today is superior to that available to Solomon. Let’s imitate David by teaching others, especially our families, the value of receiving God’s wisdom in Jesus.