What Would You Choose?
Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 1 Kings 3:7 (NIV)
Solomon was a young man when He was declared king over Israel. Solomon was the son of King David. When David died, Solomon was chosen to lead God’s covenant people. No one knew more than Solomon that he was much too young to know how to be king. One night as Solomon prayed, God asked him an amazing question: “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Can you imagine having the undivided attention of Jehovah? Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night to see the Creator of the heavens and earth sitting on your bed asking you, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Knowing God has the resources and power to grant you your greatest wish, what would you ask God to give you?
As I think about this, I hate to admit it, but wisdom probably would not be the number one thing on my list. Now that I’m older, I appreciate wisdom. As I look back on my twenties (the age Solomon was when God asked him this question), I clearly see that I needed wisdom. But I would have never asked God for it. Why? Because I did not even have the wisdom to ask for wisdom! In 1 Kings 3:7, Solomon confessed his heart to God: “Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” When I read this, it occurred to me that Solomon may not have known it, but he already had some wisdom. The fact that Solomon was aware of his inability to lead God’s people makes him one smart and wise cookie in my opinion! As you look back over your life, or even look ahead to what you face in the future, how important is it to have wisdom and the ability to discern between good and evil? Take just a moment to read this amazing conversation between Solomon and God in 1 Kings 3. It provides great insight into the heart of God. God is so very generous that He not only gave Solomon wisdom, He blessed him with great worldly riches too! Solomon continued on with his request to God, and not only asked for leadership skills—though leadership skills were very important—he also asked for wisdom to discern between good and evil.
Keep in mind that the lesson here is that Solomon was given wisdom. But wisdom did not prevent him from doing evil. Perhaps wisdom is knowing that no one is beyond making a mistake. Further on in 1 Kings 3, we find that Solomon loved God but continued to sacrifice and burn incense on the high places. In other words, Solomon worshipped God, but he also worshipped the gods that his wives worshiped. God specifically told Solomon not to marry the foreign women because they would turn his heart to their gods, and that’s exactly what happened.
We can all learn from Solomon’s mistakes! I confess it is so very easy for me to point a finger at Solomon and judge him. It is one thing to know what is right, but it’s another to do what is right. I think God was pleased when Solomon asked for wisdom. But I believe Scripture is clear that God desires obedience as well. Wisdom helps us know what is right, but wisdom cannot make us do what is right. We must consciously make a choice to do what is right, even when we know what is right.
The real issue for Solomon was his heart. God wanted his heart to be devoted only to Him. And God wants the same from each of us. His desire is for us to worship Him with all our heart. If we love and worship Him with a pure heart, we will be able to discern good from evil. As we read the story of Solomon’s life, the message is clear: anyone can destroy their own life if they choose to do so. As I look over my life, I have learned to never say, “I will never...” I have also found that unless I hold on to God and seek Him with my whole heart, I am capable of doing anything at any time.
One of the things that brings comfort to me when reading about Solomon is that when God asked Solomon for what he wished, the Lord already knew that Solomon would disobey Him. But God still answered Solomon’s prayer and used him in the lives of His covenant people. I’m so thankful God does not require me to live perfectly. Instead He asks me to love Him, and He is perfect. Wisdom is a great gift, but I’ve come to realize that even if you are wise—without loving God with all your heart—you are capable of destroying your life just as Solomon did. Can you imagine what life would be like if you always knew the difference between good and evil and chose good (the right choice) every time? In other words, can you imagine how different our lives would be if Adam and Eve had chosen to obey God (the right choice) over evil? One of the greatest gifts God gave us is freedom of choice. But it is also one of the most dangerous gifts He gave us. We never know what hangs in the balance when we make a choice.
Further Reading 2 Samuel 12:24, 1 Kings 3, 1 Kings 11:43