Now That You Mention It…
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
New Revised Standard Version
10 Then David slept with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David. 11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.
3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”
John Nash was brilliant. Born in 1928 in West Virginia, he was considered a prodigy as a child but not an outstanding student. Nash traveled to the beat of his own drum. He read constantly, played chess, and whistled entire Bach melodies.
In high school he came across a book on the history of mathematics. His interest piqued; he soon demonstrated his own incredible mathematical skill. Intending to become an engineer like his father, Nash entered Carnegie Mellon University. The regimentation of the coursework was not to his liking, so he switched his major to mathematics, encouraged by professors who recognized his mathematical genius.
After receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree, Nash went to Princeton to study for his PhD. He was known for his intellectual arrogance and fierce ambition. At the same time, his odd behaviors such as pacing the hallways, walking off in the middle of conversations, and whistling incessantly, caused others to keep their distance.
One of Nash’s greatest accomplishments, the subject of his doctoral thesis, was a new understanding of game theory, later called the Nash Equilibrium. His work revolutionized modern economics as well as impacting other fields – computer science, political science, sociology, and biology. In 1994, Nash would receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his groundbreaking work.
John Nash was only one of the brilliant thinkers and inventors whose work profoundly changed the world. Others, such as Galileo, Leonardo DaVinci, Alfred Einstein, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, revolutionized our understanding of the universe and changed the way people live.
Yet, none of these brilliant thinkers had what King David’s son, Solomon had – not human intellect and brilliance but God-given wisdom – the ability to discern what was right. Wisdom that he would need to lead God’s kingdom and God’s people. Wisdom that helped him make good decisions for the benefit of the people. He shared his wisdom in 3000 proverbs and over 1000 songs.
All the kings of the world sent emissaries to listen to him because they had heard of his great wisdom. Even the Queen of Sheba came to test him with hard questions, coming away impressed not only with his answers but by his wealth – another gift of God – and the happiness of the people.
Solomon had all he needed to be a great King. A discerning heart and wisdom to match. He was a young man who knew he needed God if he were to be the kind of ruler the people needed and to be the King who could follow in his father, David’s, footsteps.
In our internet world, we undervalue the importance of wisdom and discernment. We can Google the answers we need. Watch YouTube videos to learn how to do almost anything. Ask Alexa for information. All we need to know is at our fingertips.
Using technology, we can create decision-making scenarios and write songs, poetry, and prose. Mathematical calculations can be made with ease using apps on our phone. With all that is easily available to us, it is hard to imagine a need for much human wisdom.
Back in the day, it was different. Humans did the work by hand, drawing on their research and learning. Calculations and solving mathematical puzzles were done on chalkboards or pencil and paper. People had to know the material and how to use the knowledge they had.
The first computer filled a whole room. Programmers punched cards to give the computer instructions to do calculations. If there was an error in the result, each card had to be checked to make sure it was punched correctly.
As computers became user-friendly, brilliant minds worked behind the scenes to make it possible. All the innovative technology we have today is the result of people and their brains thinking through processes and possibilities – using their knowledge to make wise decisions.
Still, this human wisdom is different from the discerning heart and wisdom God gave Solomon. God gave Solomon the tools to care for and lead the people, pointing them to God, the ultimate source of wisdom. God gave Solomon wisdom, not for his own use but to use for the people’s benefit.
Solomon knew going into his new job as King that he was inexperienced, ill-equipped, and younger than most kings. Growing up in a king’s house didn’t mean he paid attention to how a kingdom was run. Just like a plumber’s kid, a baker’s kid, or a pastor’s kid, Solomon didn’t learn the job by osmosis.
He did learn something more important than the ins and outs of running a kingdom. From his father, David, Solomon learned his most important lesson – faithfulness to God. Growing up he learned who God was and all that God had done for God’s people and for King David. Solomon knew his place relative to God – he was not God. He was to honor God in all that he did. Solomon didn’t forget these faith lessons when he became King.
It is to this faithful young King that God appears in a dream. In a dream! I don’t know about you, but my dreams are more likely to be about crazy adventures, not encounters with God. Solomon clearly heard God in his dream. He knew God was speaking to him. When God said, “Ask what I should give you,” Solomon didn’t hesitate with his answer. He didn’t analyze the consequences of his request. He didn’t roll over and go back to sleep or dream of something else. Solomon told God what he wanted and waited for God’s response. Even though it was a dream, he was certain it was God who spoke to him.
How often have you heard, or thought you heard, a voice talking to you, telling you something you should do? Do you ignore it, write it off as your imagination? Your subconscious reminding you of something you forgot to do – call Aunt Emma, sent a note to Grandma, stop, and pray for… Or, God asking you what God should give you.
Have you taken time to listen to what could be God’s voice? The voice could come in a dream, in the car, in the shower, watching TV, reading a book, in the kitchen, or wherever you might be. God doesn’t always wait until we are having a time of quiet or doing a devotional or when we are praying. God speaks in God’s time not ours. The time God knows we need to hear God’s voice.
God spoke to Solomon first. That’s often God’s MO. Take the initiative. Seek out the people. Start conversations.
Our role is to believe God can and will speak to us. Then to stop and listen to what God has to say. When God asks you what you want, have the courage to ask God for the wisdom to do the Lord’s work. Be willing to risk and step out of your comfort zone. Ask God for a gift that will help you do the ministry of God’s kingdom. With God’s wisdom and strength, you can do more than you think you can.
Remember that God went to Solomon not the other way around. God extended the invitation, an open invitation to hear what Solomon had to say. God didn’t wait for Solomon to think he was ready, perfect, or have his ducks in a row. God knew Solomon was as ready as he needed to be to do God’s work and to be the King the people needed.
God comes to us when God knows we are ready not when we think we are. If it were up to us, we would never believe we are ready enough or perfect enough or know enough. It’s a good thing God comes to us. We might never feel ready enough.
Solomon was young and inexperienced. He loved the Lord and sought to follow God (usually). He kept his priorities straight (most of the time). He certainly was not perfect. His decisions were not always the best (even with his God-given wisdom). He had a foreign wife (against the religious laws), built his house before the Temple (it probably should have been the other way around), and allowed worship at local altars that were dedicated to other gods.
Yet, Solomon knew his place before God. He understood his role as King. He was humble. The gift he asked for was one that would best help him serve God’s people and make God’s kingdom his priority.
Solomon was a human who loved God imperfectly, failed often, yet kept at it. God was the faithful one who never wavered. God responded to Solomon’s imperfect love and sincere response. God gave Solomon what he asked for because he asked for God’s help to be a better King and a better person.
God still speaks, asking what we want God to give us. God doesn’t wait for us to think we are ready or have our act together.
Are you always listening for God’s voice? Have you heard God ask what you want? If so, go ahead and answer! Speak your truth, the truth God has put in your heart. God will always respond.