“Now, LORD God, please keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me wisdom and knowledge to rule them properly, for who is able to govern this great nation of yours?” - 2 Chronicles 1:9-10
If you inherited a million dollars, what would you do with it? If you could have anything you asked for, what would it be? Questions like these are rarely asked seriously and therefore seldom answered sensibly. But Solomon received a serious invitation from the Lord to respond to just such a question.
When the Lord invited the new king to ask for whatever his heart desired, the response was memorable. Solomon did not ask for personal enrichment, safety, or longevity but for the tools he would need to be what God had called him to be. “Now, Lord God, please keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me wisdom and knowledge to rule them properly, for who is able to govern this great nation of yours?” (1:9-10). So unusual was Solomon’s request that the Lord not only commended him and gave him what he asked for, but also showered him with unsolicited bonuses.
Solomon’s request for wisdom and knowledge was indicative of his maturity. Knowledge is the accumulation of information, whereas wisdom is knowing how to apply the information and make good decisions. Solomon needed no one to tell him that the task he had been given was more than he could handle on his own. He was in touch with his own inadequacy. So he specifically asked for knowledge to understand the problems, and wisdom to know what to do about them. Many men have been too smart for their own good, too impressed with their own abilities to be aware of their deficiencies. Solomon was nobody’s fool. He was already wise enough to know he needed help, and smart enough to know where to find it.
Every man must recognize the peculiar and special challenges of his calling. And each man must be aware that in his own strength he does not have what it takes to be all that God calls him to be. Smart men know their limitations and know where their help comes from. They catalogue their deficiencies and turn to the Lord, the source of wisdom and knowledge, finding in him resources for the work at hand. And they find that “if you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking” (James 1:5). Smart men know how smart they aren’t. Wise men know how desperately short of wisdom they fall, and they are wise enough to ask for more.
For Further Study: 2 Chronicles 1:1-13
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