1 Kings 3:5-10
5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” 6 Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.
If you knew that God would give you anything what one thing would you ask of Him? Solomon had such a choice. After David died he became King over Israel and while he was at a place called Gibeon the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you (Verse 5). The God who created heaven and earth, who spoke things into existence, who made things out of nothing, the one whose very breath held the key to life said Solomon could have any request, no conditions. This is better than any genie in a bottle wish!
Here is what he prayed for: “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” (Verse 9) Solomon asked for the wisdom to be a good king. The Bible says; “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.” (Verse 10). Solomon’s answer qualifies this as one of the greatest prayers in the Bible, a prayer worth a deeper look. So let’s slip on Solomon’s sandals and step into his world, to gain a glimpse into his heart. Scripture reveals the turmoil of his heart and life, his questioning even before he made his request. His heart reveals not just what he was thinking and feeling, but who he was comparing himself to. We all play the comparison game at some point in our lives where we measuring ourselves against someone else. Often these comparisons only leave us feeling inadequate. Solomon compared himself to:
- His Father – David
David was a powerful warrior, a successful ruler and a loved king, he was a man after God’s own heart and he left some big shoes to fill. Solomon wonders if God is still simply showing kindness to his father David by placing his son on the throne. Here we see not only the comparison with family and fathers but the comparisons of the past. Solomon has not yet felt or taken on the authority of the kingdom in his own right and is living under David’s shadow. Here Solomon looks at the past, at what had been, and when we do that it’s easy to start to question “will I measure up?” We all have fears of inadequacy based on the past; we all have family fears and failures. Some of us have fathers that leave shoes so big that they make us stumble around like children playing dress up. Others have fathers that the only shoes we saw were the ones they threw at us. The truth is God is not calling us to become like our earthly fathers, He wants to equip us to become like Him, our heavenly father.
- A Child
The comparisons of the past have a way of influencing the present, and because of his comparison with the past, Solomon now in the present feels like a child. When he ascended the throne and became king he was an adult, a grownup, yet he doesn’t feel that way. His statement reveals how he feels; it is an honest and humble admission of his inexperience and misgivings about his maturity to rule. Simply put he doesn’t feel up to the job and comparing can causes us to ask the question “can I do this?” Some of us never “grow up”, we’re just children in big bodies, because we are still so focused on the past. Oh we may be sitting on the throne but we’re just taking up space instead of filling the space God has given us.
- The People
How we feel in the present impacts our leadership in the future and as Solomon focuses on his calling instead of resting his vision on God, it falls on people. He thinks about those he is going to rule over and he feels deeply inadequate and intimidated. These are God’s chosen people, which brings up the third question “who do I think I am that I could possibly …..?”
When Solomon went to bed that night in Gibeon all these issues were no doubt weighing heavily on his mind and had been since he first ascended the throne. Many of us have these same doubts that cause us to question “Will I measure up?” “Can I do this?” “Who do I think I am?” It was that very night that God met him in a dream and God saw in Solomon a heart that was humble, not arrogant about running the whole show. He saw his struggling heart, a man who felt he was not equipped to be king yet but who desperately wanted to be a good ruler like his father David. I believe that while God knew Solomon’s heart, maybe Solomon didn’t, and questions like the one God asked can expose our true self. Solomon became the wisest man that ever lived, but that isn’t all. God told him that because he had asked for wisdom instead of long life, riches or the life of his enemies that he would also give him what he have not asked for. In the end God gave him what he ask for and with it came all that he did not ask for.
So what one thing would you request of God if you knew for sure that it would not be refused, have you been thinking that over? Don’t pretend with God and say something you think sounds good or super spiritual; neither should you assume that you don’t have anything significant enough to ask for because you aren’t a King. This is about the heart, what is really in your heart? The answer to God’s question revealed Solomon’s heart, what does your answer reveal about your heart?
Solomon’s prayer was great because his heart was right, God’s promise for those who have such hearts is: “I dwell in the high and holy place; With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15
Would your petition make it as one of the great prayers of the Bible?