Back in 2005, the singer Amy Grant tried her hand at reality television with a one-season flop, Three Wishes. In each episode, the TV crew went to a town, set up a tent, and offered local residents three wishes. Some of the requests were fairly pricey and challenging, which might be part of the reason the show wasn’t renewed for a second season.
Reviewing the list of wishes made and granted, not a single person wished for what King Solomon did…wisdom. Certainly, many of the wishes from that program were selfless—but all of the wishes stayed in realm of the tangible: no participant in the program made a wish for wisdom like Solomon did in our passage for today.
This wish sequence happens fairly early in Solomon’s reign—but only after some fairly bloody executions that Solomon had carried out amongst the earlier plotters who tried to steal the throne from his father David (see 1 Kings 1 – 2). I find Solomon’s reply to God in verse 7 the most telling part of this entire passage—“I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties”. The striking humility and self-awareness of Solomon before God to admit to his personal shortcomings—and then his heartfelt request of God to ‘fill in the parts that I’m missing with wisdom’—becomes a resonant theme for the rest of Solomon’s life.
Whatever came over Solomon at this point in this life to forgo all earthly pleasures of fame and fortune and request wisdom (literally an understanding & discerning heart), it is clear that this moment becomes central to Solomon’s leadership and life from this point forward.
Throughout Solomon’s writings in Proverbs, we hear the echoes of this wish in many places: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom” (Proverbs 1, Proverbs 9). We also hear that same refrain in Psalm 111.
God not only gives Solomon his requested wisdom, but God then ‘doubles down’ by adding fame and fortune as icing on the cake. The way God blessed Solomon with these ‘unasked for’ additional blessings is also available to us, if we heed Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33): “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you”.
For us today, it’s December 31—a day to look back and look forward. For some of us, it’s a day to ‘resolve’ ourselves with new sets of goals and aspirations—and maybe a prayerful ‘wish’ or two to God for the new year ahead.
As we build our list of resolutions for 2017, let us consider a few questions and comments:
- If God came to you with the same ‘wish granting’ opportunity that He gave to Solomon, what would you put at the top of your list? What do you need to serve God well in the year ahead?
- Are we putting God first and seeing ourselves in relation to him? Do we have a realistic self-awareness of our own strengths and shortcomings? Can we humble ourselves and see our own frailty mirrored against God’s sovereignty and make our resolutions and requests in that light?
- Are your resolutions or wishes attempts to make yourself more comfortable or ease your personal burdens—or are your resolutions and wishes focused on preparing you for Kingdom service to God, the way Solomon made his request?
- Solomon was an earthly leader—the kind which we have in many organizations and institutions that we all both participate in and count on for the proper operation of the Kingdom of God here on earth. Have you prayed for such leaders today to have the ‘understanding & discerning heart’ of Solomon as we’re directed to do in 1 Timothy 2: 1-2?