1 Kings 3:1-28 God the Giver of wisdom
Various incidents and expressions from the Bible have passed into everyday speech, sometimes accurately (‘The patience of Job’) sometimes inaccurately (‘Money is the root of all evil’). In a culture that is increasingly biblically illiterate, we can expect biblical language to fade from people’s minds or be misunderstood. What of ‘the wisdom of Solomon’? We now consider 1 Kings 3:1-28 God the Giver of wisdom.
1. The need for wisdom
‘Wisdom’ in Scripture is very practical, knowing how to translate our relationship with the Lord into daily godly living. We see why Solomon needed wisdom in v1-3. On the positive side, Solomon ‘showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David’ (v3), but there were inconsistencies, as in his marriage (in addition to his first wife) to a pagan Egyptian princess, contrary to (Deuteronomy 17:17), and his continuing worship at the ‘high places’ (contrary to Deuteronomy 7:5). But the Lord is very gracious to Solomon – he is ‘the giving God’ (James 1:5) in regard to wisdom.
2. The prayer for wisdom
(i). God’s nature. This is the foundation for all prayer. He is the God of covenant ‘kindness’ (v6), as in the covenant with David (2 Samuel 7). We can pray because he has promised all we need in his covenant.
(ii). Solomon’s request. His concern is for wisdom – ‘a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong’ (v9). Our prayers should focus on how we can do the Lord’s work and serve his people.
(iii). God’s answer. He grants Solomon great wisdom (v12) and also ‘riches and honour’ (v13). The requirement for obedience is also clear – ‘walk in my ways’ (v14).
3. The exercise of wisdom
The fact God has answered Solomon’s prayer is evident from v16-27, where it is clear that justice will be available for all, including despised prostitutes. Wisdom is demonstrated in the decision (v27) – a very practical gift for a ruler – and note that ‘Israel…held the king in awe’ (v28). The Lord is establishing his king over his people.
4. The perfection of wisdom
The affairs of God’s kingdom are to be viewed in the wider context of Scripture. The king was God’s representative – each king was to portray to the world something of God’s righteous reign. All merely human kings were flawed, but they pointed to the perfect King, the Messiah. Note Isaiah 11, prophetic of the Messiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding’ (v2). As a result, ‘with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth’ (v4). These words are fulfilled in Christ, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3). It is our privilege to belong to the kingdom of the perfect King and to serve him.