1 Kings 3:5-15

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 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. 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. 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. 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?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 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 with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” 

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.” 1 Kings 3:5-15

Solomon is becoming the third king of Israel. The first, Saul, started out OK but then started slipping. He was disobedient to God and often became depressed and withdrawn. Eventually God picked David to replace Saul. David was a honorable person and was torn regarding Saul’s leadership. Saul became jealous of David and paranoid that he would lose his kingdom to him. Under Saul, and later under David, most of the time Israel was battling its enemies, always seeking to consolidate their territory.

When David died, Solomon became king. By that time, Israel had become a secure and increasingly successful tribe. Their success flourished under Solomon’s leadership.

In today’s text, the initial secret of Solomon’s success is explained. He asked God to make him a wise and discerning king. This was a very wise request and God honored it by saying that Solomon would also gain great power and wealth.

Wisdom is a great virtue. To be wise is to possess great understanding and make good choices. To be discerning is to be able to tell the difference between options and choices. Solomon’s wisdom served him well in the first years of his reign. He did remarkable things. Israel flourished under his leadership.

By the end, though, Solomon’s wisdom was buried under the trappings of his success. Solomon became wealthy beyond measure – and the wealthier he got, the less wise he acted. He became a great collector, collecting far more than he needed. More chariots and horses. More foreign wives and other women who all brought their foreign idols and gods into Solomon’s palace. All of that led to a sudden and dramatic downfall in the lives of the people of Israel.

After Solomon died, the kingdom was split between two of his sons and Israel never again saw the prominence that they enjoyed under Solomon. Solomon’s excesses proved harmful to himself, to his family, and to the people he served. He remembered the gift of God’s wisdom but he forgot the part about “If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments…”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, Solomon prayed for wisdom and you answered his prayer in a dream. Wisdom is a gift that we all need but we realize that wisdom is a gift we receive over a lifetime of learning and experience. Keep our minds and our hearts open to life that we might become wise. Let love be the key principle in our discernment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “1 Kings 3:5-15”

  1. Mark Sundberg Says:

    Always baffling to me, that if he was indeed granted the gift of wisdom and discernment, why he continued “worshiping at the high places,” mentioned right after this passage.

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