Words of Wisdom
by Johan du Preez
(Roodepoort, South Africa)
WOW (Words Of Wisdom)
Shall we pray…..
Reading : 1 Kings 3: 5 - 12
King Solomon could ask for anything, but he chose wisdom, why?
What one thing would you ask of God if you knew absolutely that it would not be refused?
King Solomon had such a choice. After David died he became King over Israel and while he was at a place called Gibeon the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night.
"God said; 'Ask! What shall I give you?'" (I Kings 3:5) WOW! This is better than any genie in a bottle wish - this is the God who made heaven and earth saying he could have any request without putting conditions on it.
Solomon's answer qualifies it for inclusion as a "Great Prayer of the Bible." Here is what he prayed for: "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?" (I Kings 3:9)
Solomon was asking for wisdom to be a good king. The Bible says in verse 10; "The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
Now let's look at this a little deeper by putting ourselves in two people's shoes:
Solomon's and God's.
First let's try to get inside Solomon's moccasins. We have some clues into Solomon's heart because, before he made his request to God, he revealed three things about what he was thinking.
Compared to David (his father)
He compared himself to his father David. Talk about having big shoes to fill! Under David the kingdom was firmly established and all of Israel's enemies were subdued. God called David a man after his own heart.
This must have been weighing heavily upon Solomon because he says to God in verse 6; "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."
In other words, Solomon wonders if God is still simply showing kindness to his father David by placing his son on the throne.
He feels under David's shadow.
He has not yet felt or taken on the authority of the kingdom in his own right.
Secondly compared to a child
Next Solomon expresses to God how he views himself. He says in verse 7; "I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in." When Solomon ascended the throne he was fully an adult but he doesn't feel that way; he doesn't feel up to the job. His statement is quite a humble admission of his inexperience and misgivings about his maturity to rule.
Thirdly compared to the people
Finally Solomon thinks about whom he is going to rule over and he feels deeply inadequate and intimidated. He says; "And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted." In verse 8 He is saying; "Hey, these are God's chosen people, who do I think I am that I could possibly be king over THEM?"
When Solomon went to bed that night in Gibeon all these issues were no doubt weighing heavily on his mind and had been since he first ascended the throne. Then God met him in a dream that reflected the new king's struggling heart.
It is often the case that we dream about whatever things deeply bother us but in this instance God initiated the dream. Why did the Lord give Solomon Carte Blanc to request anything of him?
Now it is time to slip into God's moccasins - but that can be a dangerous thing to do.
Who can really know the mind of God?
So with my limited understanding and not claiming to be able to speak for God, I’ll tell you what I think. I think God gave Solomon the option to ask anything because He knew He could trust him.
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said; "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
God saw in Solomon a heart that was humble, not arrogant. He saw a man who felt he was not equipped to be king, yet who desperately wanted to be a good ruler like his father David.
While God knew Solomon's heart, really good questions like the one God asked, can expose our true self.
Sometimes what we see in our own heart can give us confidence to take on big challenges or it may show us how shallow we are and in need of a new heart.
Another thought is that God desired to honour the choice of the new king. No matter what Solomon would ask for; nothing was too big for God. Just like a proud parent that says to their child graduating from university; "What do you want for graduation?" If they are wealthy they might say; "I'll get you anything you want; I'm so proud of you."
The Lord was so pleased with Solomon's request that He says in verse 12; "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." Solomon became the wisest man that ever lived. But that isn't all. God told him that because he had asked for wisdom instead of long life, riches or the life of his enemies; "I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honour, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days."
What would we ask as parents? – we might not be kings and queens, but most people here tonight in the church have children (or parents) who we have to deal with, with wisdom and understanding.
You may now take off those divine moccasins and put back on your own. In the beginning of this teaching I asked what one thing you would request of God, if you knew for sure that it would not be refused.
Have you been thinking that over? ………….
I received an e-mail earlier this week from someone and I’m not claiming that this is really what God thinks, but it just made me realise, once again, how we don’t always understand God’s ways or how He intended things to be:
Upfront, I apologise to all gardeners in the church tonight:
God said: "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles."
St. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
GOD:Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.
GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.
ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
GOD: No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
GOD: And where do they get this mulch?
ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
ST. CATHERINE: 'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis
Even though our prayers can no longer be included in the Bible, it can be a great one in God's eyes. And it may surprise us in the end that God gives us what we ask for - and maybe even all that we did not ask for. ……
Just like Solomon!
Shall we pray?