Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 3:3-4:34
Philosopher Cicero said: “The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.”
The new king Solomon took office by stating his devotion to God in the most dramatic fashion. He sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings (v 4) to express his devotion and thanksgiving to God. The sacrifices were continuous, extraordinary and spectacular. It was close to a 3 years’ sacrifice for a commoner who offered a sacrifice a day. The flames blazed in intensity, the smoke filled the temple, and the aroma pleased the Lord.
God in a sense, gave Solomon a blank check: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you”(v 5). What would you ask for if God gave you a blank check? Would you want: money, a bigger house, fame and fortune, good looks, a long life, a happy family? Or maybe you would ask for something to benefit others – safer communities, clean drinking water, education or civil rights? We Solomon didn’t ask for any of these – he chose wisdom.
Solomon wisely appreciated all that was handed to him. He began by praising God for His faithfulness and remembering His great mercy to David, his father. There are 247 occurrences of the Hebrew word “mercy” or “hesed,” but only four references to His “great mercy” (gadol hesed) were recorded in the Bible – twice in verse 6 of Solomon’s prayer and once in the corresponding 2 Chronicles 1:8 version. The verse 6 phrases “great mercy” and “great kindness” are identical in Hebrew. The only other mention of God’s great mercy outside of Solomon’s prayer is from David’s psalm in 145:8 extolling God’s mercy, paraphrased as “rich in love” by NIV.
In humility, Solomon considered himself God’s servant, a vessel for God’s use on earth. He realized that it is God who gave, and God who take away. If He would only be wise in following God, he would know that God would take care of everything else.
How often do we ask for wisdom to look after the things which God have given to us?