Week Four: King Solomon’s Prayer: 1 Kings Ch 3:5b-15
Verse to memorize
“Give your servant a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil.”
Intro to the Book of Kings: In the historical books of the Bible we read about the many kings of Israel from King Saul to King Zedekiah. Some were very good; some were evil. Solomon was the third king after King Saul and after his father, King David. After Solomon the Kingdom of Israel divided, making two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel (North) and the Kingdom of Judah (South). He is traditionally considered the author of the Book of Wisdom. In this passage, the young Solomon has become king, and he goes to Gibeon to worship the LORD God. There the LORD appeared to him in a dream at night.
God said: Whatever you ask for I shall give you. Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased by Solomon’s request. So God said to him: Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right— I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days. And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life. Solomon awoke; it was a dream! He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants. (NAB)
1.) Q: Why is young King Solomon worried about giving judgment to the Israelite people. A: In ancient Israel, the legal system was very different from modern times. Each city was protected by a wall and a gate. In each city, the elderly gentlemen who could no longer work the fields or tend flocks, sat by the gate during the day, observing the comings and goings of travelers and hearing the news of the day. They also had a very important task. If two citizens had a dispute, they brought the case to the elders at the gate who would hear the complaint and make a judgment. They were not always just. If they could not resolve the case, the appeal went to the king in Jerusalem. Part of the king’s job was to ensure justice. Solomon had seen his father, King David, sitting in the gate of Jerusalem, hearing cases day after day and meting out justice. He now had that job. He did not feel up to the task.
2.) Q: How did God appear to the new young king? A: In a dream. Q: What did God offer him? A: Whatever he asked for. Q: What did Solomon ask for? A: A listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. Wise people listen and think about what is good and what is evil, before they speak. Q: Do you or someone you know seem to have “a listening heart”?
3.) Q: What did God actually give Solomon? A: See vs 12 & 13. Q: What does God mean when He says, “If you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments… I will give you a long life”? A: “Walking in God’s ways” is a common expression in the Old Testament which stands for obeying God’s laws, the commandments, and avoiding sin, especially the worship of idols. In the Gospels, Jesus uses the command, “Follow me!” instead.
4.) Solomon asked God for wisdom and he got it, and much more! You can ask God for wisdom too. You will get it.
Courtesy of The Bible Project