If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Kings 3, Ephesians 1, Ezekiel 34, Psalms 83–84. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 1 Kings 3.
If you had an audience with God and he told you to ask him for anything you want, what would you ask him for? Unless you knew this passage or had thought about it in advance, it really is a tough question. That’s where Solomon was. His administration had started well; after taking care of leftover business from David’s administration in chapter 2, Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh and married his daughter (v. 1). This secured his kingdom from the biggest military threat in the region and began a time of great peace in Israel. Solomon went to work, then, on expanding Jerusalem and making a true capital city politically and religiously (v. 2b). Both Solomon and the people were worshipping the Lord in a way that was outside his will (see Deut 12:2-7), but Solomon’s heart was right before the Lord (v. 3) , so God would use him to correct this unlawful practice.
On one of Solomon’s worship treks, the Lord spoke to him in a dream, asking him the question I began with: What do you want me to give you? As verse 5 put it, “God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” It would be so easy and so natural to ask for something selfish—a long life, material prosperity, or freedom from war. Solomon, however, had his mind elsewhere. At this moment in his life he was grateful for all that God had done for him and his family (vv. 6-7a) and highly aware of his own immaturity (v. 7b). Solomon was ready to serve but intimidated, perhaps, by the prospect of leading God’s great chosen people (v. 8). What he asked for, therefore, was wisdom. Verse 9 says, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
This demonstrates that Solomon was interested in serving well, not in being served. What he wanted from God was completely unselfish—to have the discernment to lead well. God responded by promising not only the wisdom he wanted, but all the selfish stuff he could have asked for as well (vv. 12-14).
But then Solomon woke up (v. 15); his audience with God had been a dream. Was there any doubt in his mind that God had really spoken to him? Did he understand that his dream was truly revelatory or did it seem more like a pleasant way to pass the night? Interestingly, after having this dream in Gibeon (v. 5) where he had gone to offer sacrifices to the Lord (v. 4a), he then returned to Jerusalem and… offered sacrifices again, this time however in the tabernacle as God had commanded (v. 15). Was he beginning to understand this important point of obedience to God’s law?
Regardless, Solomon soon faced a difficult test of judgment. His ability to discern the true mother of the living child in verses 16-28 remains to this day a legendary example of true wisdom. The point of this test was to solidify his ability as Israel’s leader (v. 28), but it also must have given great comfort to Solomon. The young king who was self-conscious of his immaturity and of the great task of leading Israel in verses 7-8 now had a stellar example of God’s answered prayer in his life. If there were any question in his mind that the Lord had spoken to him in that dream, this incident must have erased it. The young king was ready to be the man that God’s people needed.
But think about the humility Solomon displayed in this passage. He could easily have asked for an easy, pleasurable, long life. It would be natural to any of us to ask for that; Solomon, though, wanted to serve well. He wanted God to bless him with the ability to be a great king—not one who exploited the people for his own benefit as the other passage we read today, Ezekiel 34, described. No, he wanted God to bless him so he could bless others. He wanted the ability to serve and to serve well. Is this what we ask God for? When we pray about our family—our marriage and parenting, for example—do we ask God to give us insight into how to serve our spouse and make him/her feel loved? Do we ask God to help our children obey so that we can have a more enjoyable family life or are we concerned that they learn the importance of obedience to proper authority so that they know how to follow Jesus throughout their lives? The best thing we could learn from Solomon is to learn the humility of desiring to be the best servant we can be and asking God for that grace. Perhaps if we wanted to serve others more and learned how to do it, God would give us more of the illusive blessings that would make us happier as well.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.