Give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:9
Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom
Request for wisdom 3:1-15. Solomon acts quickly as king. He strengthens his relations with other states and marries a daughter of Pharaoh as part of an alliance with Egypt. Solomon also shows love for God, first by obedience, and second by his worship. God then appears to Solomon and instructs him to request whatever he wishes. Solomon asks only that God’s promise to David (Davidic Covenant) be kept, and that Solomon be given the wisdom and knowledge to distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9). This request pleases God. Solomon is promised wisdom, and also granted riches and honor.
Wisdom demonstrated: 3:16-28. Kings records the difficult decision helps establish Solomon in the eyes of his people.
3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. 4 Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
–> Whether the worship ceremonies took place in specially constructed enclosures or at an open-air sanctuary (13:32), such hilltop areas or high places provided a setting where Canaanite religious rites could be infiltrated Israel’s worship (11:7; 2 Kin. 16:4).
5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
–> an understanding heart: The phrase suggested not only the willingness and patience to listen to all sides of an issue but also the desire for the ability to reason.
10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 15 Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
–> Solomon was richly blessed by God when he started out. He had everything a human being can possibly desire. But as in the case of king Saul, Absalom, prophet Elijah etc., he gradually became unfaithful to God through his compromise — alliance with Egypt, adaptation of their pagan practices which led to idol worship.
Knowing good from evil seems to be an easy task to do. All you need is common sense. But we can lose this simple ability and become confused. Wise in our own eyes but still fools who worship idols — ourselves, false leaders and lifeless statutes.