“Give me an understanding mind 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 nation of yours?” - 1 Kings 3:9
Sir Isaac Newton, the brilliant scientist, said toward the end of his life, “I feel like a little child playing by the seashore while the great ocean of truth lies undiscovered before me.” Despite his accomplishments in the fields of mathematics and the physical sciences, Newton was aware that what he did know was infinitesimal compared to what he did not know. And humility was the only appropriate response.
King Solomon, as he embarked on the task of governing God’s people, was also aware of how much he did not know about ruling and reigning. Humility was appropriate in his case, too. Some men in similar situations crumble under the crushing feelings of inadequacy and distinguish themselves by their ineffectiveness. Others try to hide their ignorance and convince themselves of their independence. Not Solomon. He knew what to do with his limitations and where to take his shortcomings. He worshiped! He turned to the One in whom all knowledge is found, the fount of all wisdom. The Lord responded by inviting Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted, promising it would be given to him. This would appear to be a dangerous thing for God to do, but God, having seen Solomon at worship, knew his heart. And when Solomon responded by asking for wisdom, “the Lord was pleased . . . and was glad” (3:10).
Solomon was not interested in self-aggrandizement. His prime concern was that he should be equipped to do what God had called him to do. He had enough wisdom to know that he needed wisdom, and he was smart enough to know that he wasn’t smart enough. He also knew that receiving wisdom from the Lord was more important than getting more wealth or more power. Wealth and power without wisdom to administer them can lead to all kinds of evil, and even long life without wisdom can be bitter or futile.
Wealth, power, and longevity have their attractions for men in all ages, but the smart ones ask God for wisdom to live as they should. Like Solomon, many of them discover that God, having granted them wisdom, also gives them the other things as a bonus, because he knows they will be smart enough to handle them properly. So get smart, and seek wisdom!
For Further Study: 1 Kings 3:1-15
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