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The Wisdom of Solomon - Why Is It That Solomon Received Wisdom When His Father Was So Sinful?

King Solomon is known as the wisest man in the Old Testament. This conclusion has been made as scripture says in 1 Kings 3:11-14 (NKJV) 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.”

The phrase "like no-one before you nor after you" leads scholars to infer that Solomon was the wisest and will always be, as no-one after him will have his wisdom. But why did God grant Solomon wisdom? What did Solomon's prayer look like, that the God of the Universe deemed him worthy to have Wisdom?

To examine this we have to go back a few verses to where Solomon and God had a conversation. This is what it says in verses 6 -10 "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?” 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing."

The first thing we see is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of God's mercy. (v.6). Solomon acknowledges to God that he recognizes the greatness of his father and God's mercy for his father. Let's remember David was a murderer and adulterer, yet God still saw him as righteous, because of his (David's) repentant heart. So to start, Solomon acknowledges to God, "I know and recognize you're merciful, because of the life of my father."

I ask you now, when we are conversing with God, presenting our needs and prayers, do we begin by acknowledging and recognizing his mercy on our lives? Do we take a look in the mirror and see our sinfulness? Our thoughts? Our ungodly desires? Let's not fool ourselves, we are all riddled with things that are completely out of God's character. If you do not believe me, or do not think this applies to you, think back to the last time you were in traffic, a long line at the grocery store, or the local DMV.

What is the next thing we see Solomon do? He recognizes his LIMITATIONS and lack of knowledge for this task of being King. (v.7) He knows he is fully unprepared to rule God's people. He is not arrogant, cocky or prideful. When stepping into a new situation that you may or may not be fully equipped to handle, do you approach the Father with a humble heart? Recognizing that you may be in over your head? Or do you depend on yourself? with pride and arrogance that you will 'Fake it till you make it'?

So what is Solomon's request when God asks him what he wants? He asks for a discerning heart. (v.9) He asks to have understanding and wisdom, so that he can govern God's people well. Verse 10 is a beautiful representation of when our desires match with God's desires. "The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing." The Lord was pleased. Oh how I long for the Lord to be pleased with me. Verse 11 shows how gracious God was towards Solomon as God tells him (emphasis mine) "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" Solomon's focus was on others, on God's people, on how to be the best king he could be. His request was selfless not selfish.

From verses 12-13 we see how God not only granted his request, but gave him even more, yet slipped in the very end, verse 14, a caveat. God gives Solomon a condition. The original Hebrew word there is wə·’im and it is a conditional word meaning IF. God declares to Solomon, if you walk in my ways, as your father did. But wait, didn't David murder and have an affair, that's not walking in God's ways. So what does God mean, "If you walk in my ways like your father"? God means have a relationship with me like your father did. Always seek me and stay close to me like your father did. When God tells Solomon "If you walk in my ways as your father did" he is simply saying, "I want you to use your father's example of steadfast faithfulness to me, as the type of relationship we are to have."

God wanted to ensure that Solomon, the king of His people, was fully aware of his dependence on God, and that after receiving wisdom, he would not all of a sudden become dependent on himself. God granted Solomon his prayer for wisdom and with it came a huge responsibility for both God's people of his day and for everyone afterwards.

To this day we still look to Solomon's wisdom throughout the Old Testament as guiding principles for everyday living. So what is it we can learn from Solomon? God's desire for us is to stay faithful and deeply connected to Him. He does not shy away from us when we fall to sin, and he does not want us to shy away from Him. Just as David was seen as righteous and an example to his son Solomon, God asks us to do the same and recognize that left to ourselves, we will fall every time, but when connected to God, it is His hand outstretched to pick us up and not our own strength.

Something that both David and Solomon exemplify is their dependence on God. They both understood the insignificance of who they were without God and their significance of who they were with God.

Spend some time today with God in conversation. Ask him to reveal to you areas where you may need to become more dependent on him and less dependent on yourself.

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