Imagine you are walking down a beach and you stumble upon an unusual looking bottle. You pick it up and you are engulfed with smoke. When all the smoke clears you have a genie before you ready to grant you any wish you ask for. What would you ask for? Would it be riches, fame, to be king? Would you ask for a long life, revenge on an enemy or would you ask for something else?
Our Lord is not a genie in a bottle. He is so much bigger than that. Every good gift comes from God. He is able to give all things and enjoys giving to those who ask according to His will. But Solomon is in a situation where he is going to get whatever he asks for, any wish he has.
Solomon’s father David has died and now been buried. The throne of Israel in it’s golden years has now passed to Solomon. There is a massive weight that comes with the throne. The leadership has passed from David to Solomon and no doubt Solomon the new young ruler must be feeling the magnitude of the throne.
This is the context when the Lord appears to Solomon. The Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and tells him “Asks whatever you want of me and I will give you.” Could you imagine if God gave you a blank check? Whatever it is you want you can have it!
1 Kings Chapters 3-4
2 Chronicles Chapter 1
Solomon asks for wisdom. “For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her”. (Proverbs 8:11) Solomon approached his new position as king with humility. He says, “I am only a child and I do not know how to carry out my duties”. (1 Kings 3:7)
Solomon felt inadequate for the task. He must have tossed and turned that night thinking about the magnitude of the task before him. He must have asked himself, how am I going to handle this? This task is beyond me. Solomon is burdened. He is young and inexperienced and does not know how he will rule the kingdom. Solomon’s request to God is a discerning heart in administering justice.
You might be thinking back to a time when you were overwhelmed with the task before you. I am thinking back like that. I am remembering my first job at Quaker Oats. One of the managers asked me; “You are 22 years old and you will be supervising people who have worked here 36 years so how will you do this?” Later I asked someone to help me. This is a huge task! How will I do this? “Be fair, and treat all people equally”, he advised.
Solomon asked God, give me the wisdom needed to govern this great people of yours. God is pleased by this humble request. God will give Solomon the wisdom he asked for. He is also going to pour out on Solomon what a more selfish person would have asked for. When Solomon awoke he realized this dream was a vision from God. He knew that God was giving him the wisdom needed to lead God’s people. He was receiving wisdom and much more.
Solomon’s first big leadership challenge came from a dispute between two prostitutes. This was a test of his newly received wisdom. One of these woman had played the “old switcheroo” trick. She swapped her deceased newborn for the other woman’s live baby. What a conundrum! There are no witnesses, only the contradicting stories of these two women. One of them is lying, but there are no witnesses and it is just one word against the other. This type of case baffles judges and juries all the time.
What was Solomon’s response? Cut the child in two. He ordered his attendants to get the sword. There are two very different responses from the women, yes and no. Now Solomon could discern the truth. The one who would give up the child and see the little one die was lying. The real mother would give up her child before seeing him killed.
The response of the people was awe. Solomon’s fame spread. This young king is full of wisdom. It is evident that God gave Solomon his wisdom. Solomon was the wisest of them all. His wisdom extended to Government to the sciences. He wrote 3,000 Proverbs and 1,005 songs. The traditional view of his Biblical writings are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Psalm 127. Queen Sheba came to ask him difficult questions. His fame spread and of course today his name is synonymous with wisdom.
1 Kings 4:29-31 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else… And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations.
Who does not need more wisdom in these days? The pressures of life are immense. The world is in chaos and there are wars, financial pressures, health crises and violent crimes. What we need, desperately need in these times are wise leaders. We need wisdom in the government, in the schools in the home.
There is a true wisdom of heaven that will bless people and there is a false worldly wisdom which will ultimately ruin those who entrust them to leadership. James 3: 13-17 contrast these two kinds of wisdom:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
In contrast to heavenly wisdom there is a “wisdom” that is worldly, selfish. This type of wisdom has selfish ambition as its source. This is a wisdom that connives, plans and schemes and ultimately destroys. The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and peace-loving.
We need strong spiritual leaders and only heavenly wisdom will do. True wisdom leads us to do the right thing in the face of moral choices. True wisdom means leading in light of God’s eternal values. Spiritual leaders in New Testament times were called upon to risk their very lives. To encounter trials as they led the church through times of persecution. Solomon knew he needed wisdom to lead the nation and we need leaders today with wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition if the leader seeks godly wisdom the motive is to glorify God and lead His people to grow spiritually. Not only should we ask for wisdom for ourselves but for our leaders. We should pray for wisdom for our children. We should pray for wisdom for those we disciple and train up to be leaders.
We read in Psalm 72 that King David trained and prepared Solomon for leadership by example. David’s prayer for Solomon was for wholehearted devotion to the Lord. We must seek the Lord, the source of wisdom and train our future leaders to do the same. Jesus is the wisdom of God.
The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42
True wisdom is found in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus you are left with an earthly wisdom. So much “intellectual” wisdom is destructive and devoid of God. Those who have this kind of earthly wisdom are in fact blinded by Satan.
Solomon’s wisdom came from God. True wisdom that seeks justice and peace is found in Jesus Christ. True wisdom is turning to Jesus Christ. In Christ God will bless you with wisdom and much more. You will have the ultimate Spiritual blessing.