“I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for: both riches and honor, so that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life.” (1 Kings 3:12-13 HCSB)
First we face THE REQUIREMENT OF WISDOM (3:1-3).
We usually we think of Solomon as a pretty sharp cookie. But why did he marry a pagan woman? Why did he allow worship in the heathen high places, even though forbidden by God’s law? He had a position, but did not have perception. Although child-like in his faith—which was a good thing—he was immature in his insight—which was a bad thing. Solomon shows why he needed God’s wisdom.
He failed in two areas: women and worship. What he did could have been rationalized, of course. It was according to the wisdom of the world. In those days, it was common for a king to cement treaties with other nations by marrying into that royal family. By merging the bloodlines, they hoped to prevent bloodshed between the nations. Doesn’t that make sense? As to worship—maybe it wasn’t the ideal, but the intentions were good. The place where they worshipped may not have been proper, but so long as the Person they worshipped was the Lord, surely it was better to not let the ideal become an ordeal. It sounds so reasonable—but it was contrary to Kingdom principles—the
, we mean. If you live by human reason, you will be led
astray for such wisdom is corrupted by sin. The child of God is to follow
heavenly revelation instead. Understanding
and applying those Divine principles requires wisdom from above. Here’s the contrast: Kingdom
“Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom's gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don't brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.” (James 3:13-17 HCSB)
So, we hear THE REQUEST FOR WISDOM (3:4-10).
But how sharp was Solomon? He was smart enough to know he wasn’t smart enough. This led him to ask God for wisdom.
God appears to Solomon in a dream by night, and offers the king a blank check. Solomon can fill in the blank. God will give him whatever he desires. Imagine that! What would you ask for?
Solomon asked for the wealth of wisdom. In humility he acknowledges his need. He basically says, “I don’t know if I’m coming or going!” Do you ever feel that way? He was in over his head—and best of all—he knew it!
Solomon displays the fear of God. Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He had a love and desire to serve the people that demanded wisdom to succeed. He knew the work was too great for him.
God delights to answer such prayers. Here is the promise of His Word—and not just for princes or preachers, but for all who will seek it, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
Next we see THE RICHES OF WISDOM (3:11-15).
The reason wisdom is so valuable is that it touches every dimension of life. Wisdom is not mere knowledge. Knowledge puffs us up the Bible warns (see 1 Cor.8:1). Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and apply it in practical ways, especially in the moral realm. It enables us to understand God’s ways, which are often 180 degrees from man’s ways. Being rich in wisdom enables you to prosper in other facets of life. No wonder Solomon advised above all, “Get wisdom!” (Prov.4:7a). This is the wealth of wisdom.
Further we find THE RESULTS OF WISDOM (3:16-28). God gives Solomon discernment. He is able to make wise decisions. Solomon desired to administer justice and reign effectively and he does by the gracious gift of wisdom. His dealing with the two women and their argument over the baby was extraordinary and marked his reign.
It made quite an impression on his subjects. The people now respect his leadership ability. To have a title is not the same as being a leader. One may have a position, but respect only comes from performance. How we need good judgment in leaders! It is something scarcer than hen’s teeth today. Our moral bankruptcy and economic difficulty doubtless lie in our ignorance of God’s ways. We have abandoned truth for error.
We are in desperate need of wise leadership—whether in government, the home, business or the church. Life is about choices and we face them constantly. The foolish heart of man will repeatedly reason to the wrong conclusion. Now, is the time to seek God’s guidance. May the Lord raise up leaders who, rather than try to impress us with what they think they know, will be humble enough to acknowledge what they don’t know!
We also reflect on THE REIGN OF WISDOM (4:1-28). Solomon’s leadership was established. He shows wisdom in his great organizational skills.
He delegates responsibilities (v.1-7). Not even a man as wise as Solomon had all the answers. He needed help. Wisdom leads us to secure partners. If you can reach your goals on your own, then your goals are too small!
He gathers resources (v.20-28). You can’t do a job without the tools required. A wise leader knows what resources are needed and where to secure the resources needed to get the job done. The Lord won’t call us to a task without giving us the means to achieve it.
The results of all this was a kingdom at peace. Delegating responsibilities and determining resources will help the leader have peace of mind. Burn out comes from trying to carry the entire load. I will share two examples—one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament.
Jethro, Moses father-in-law observed a long line of Israelis—and like most every line I find myself in—it was barely moving. He walked to the front and found the reason for the traffic jam. Moses was the bottleneck! People were bringing all their disputes and concerns to Moses and he was trying to bear this burden alone. Basically his father-in-law says, “Son, this is stupid!” He tells Moses to get some help—and only deal with the big issues personally. Read Exodus 18. Every father-in-law knows that his sons-in-law would be smart to listen to them!
In the early church, there was an argument that broke out in the kitchen. Some felt they weren’t getting the same amount of food. So, where do church problems go—straight to the preacher’s office! The Apostles saw where this was heading. It was a problem needing fixing. They certainly could handle it. But, if they began to deal with things that others could handle, they would neglect that which only they could do. Emergencies would become the substitute for priorities. The Apostles recognized this wouldn’t work in the early church. It still won’t.
They told the church to find some godly leadership that could solve the crisis, while the preachers would devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (see Acts 6:1-7). The result was the blessing of God. This is the wealth that comes from wisdom.
Finally we observe THE RECOGNITION OF WISDOM (4:29-34). The king didn’t have to send out a press release trumpeting that he was the wisest man in the world. The results spoke for themselves. If we make good decisions and provide good leadership, we don’t have to promote ourselves. The boss will notice. The voters will respond. The church will acknowledge. We’re not after a title but a testimony. Ultimately God gives the final accounting. Only He is qualified to render true judgment. We can leave it in His hands—the same hands that bestow the competence to serve Him on earth, will distribute the crowns to wear in eternity.
I need wisdom! Don’t you?
How can you get it? Ask God like Solomon did. Stop pursuing earthly wealth and pursue eternal worth—the wealth of wisdom. God has a treasure chest in His Word. We are promised to prosper in every way if we meditate on it continually (note Psalm 1:1-3). Open the Book, and open your heart in prayer for understanding, as you dig in and discover its timeless truth. The best investment you will make as you begin your day is to spend time in the Word of God. Wise is the man or woman that does so!