Seeking wisdom and discernment ∙
Give your servant a discerning heart. – 1 Kings 3:9
1 Kings 3:28 When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.
Two different people claimed ownership of the same dog, a man, and a woman. They both presented convincing arguments when they went to court. The woman had filed a lawsuit claiming ownership of the dog. The man told the judge a very convincing story about his claim to ownership. He explained that he had purchased the dog. He gave details about where he purchased it.
The judge was somewhat puzzled. But he came up with a very wise and discerning solution. The dog was in the courtroom on a leash. When the dog was released, he ran immediately to the woman, tongue hanging out, and his tail wagging excitedly. The judge had stern words for the man. And the woman left the courtroom happily united with her best friend.
Solomon had a reputation for being the wisest man who ever lived. He demonstrated his wisdom in many historical events found in the book of 1 Kings, and the books of the Old Testament which he wrote: Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.
In 1 Kings 3:16-26, two women claimed to be the mother of the same baby. Each woman presented her case. Of course, Solomon listened intently considering the arguments of both women.
Here is the dialogue.
1 Kings 3:17-22
17 “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house.
18 Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.
19 “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it.
20 Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her.
21 And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”
22 Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.
Based upon the evidence, there was no way to make an accurate judgment. But Solomon came up with a brilliant strategy.
1 Kings 3:23-27
23 Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other.
24 All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.
25 Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”
26 Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”
27 Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”
The Father gave Solomon the wisdom and discernment he needed to decide what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, fair and unfair.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father will give wisdom to those who ask.
Father thank You that You have made wisdom and discernment available to every child of the King. Please encourage each of us to cultivate a hearing and obedient heart.
To better understand why King Solomon asked the Father for wisdom and discernment it is important to understand the historical context from which he speaks. David the heroic, near-legendary king of Israel is dead. Solomon has inherited his father’s throne and is now king. Solomon feels totally inadequate and a less than qualified substitute for his father. There’s no way he can live up to David’s reputation or walk with Father God. Solomon simply cannot fill David’s sandals. But he must! The care of the people of God, the Nation of Israel is now his responsibility. Any child of the King can identify with Solomon.
But Solomon knew his father’s secret: what is impossible with man is possible with God.
The Father God of course knows all of this and He does not wait for Solomon to ask for help.
1 Kings 3:5 The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Pause for a moment and imagine what that was like. Do you think Solomon had a good night’s rest? Did he toss and turn? The text doesn’t say. But the Father came to him in his dreams. The Father was ready to write checks in any amount. He said, tell me whatever you want and I will give it to you.
Solomon’s humility, character, and heart of faith were revealed for all to see for the next 3000 years. Solomon was totally dependent upon the Father
1 Kings 3:6-9
6 Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.”
7 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.”
9 “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The wisest man who ever lived humbled himself and became as a little child in need of his daddy. His daddy shows up and had his back. What could be better than that?
Solomon desperately needed wisdom, knowledge, discernment, insight, and a strong moral compass. He had to be able to discern good from evil, truth from error, right from wrong. He asked for a discerning heart. What is a discerning heart?
The phrase a discerning heart is literally a hearing heart. The Hebrew word which is translated as understanding or discerning is shama. Shama comes from the Hebrew verb shamah, which is typically translated to hear. It may also mean to understand. The Hebrew phrase could also be translated as, an attentive heart or an intelligent heart (UBS).
“In the Old Testament “hearing” and “obeying” come from the same word, a linguistic trait with practical implications. Only those who obey authority figures have really heard them. Solomon must obey the Lord by keeping God’s commands in order for his heart to be prepared to lead others. This listening to God will also enable him to listen to others” (Paul R. House).
Any child of the King can ask the Father for a discerning heart. The Father will surely give to all who ask him in faith with proper motives (James 4:2-3).
James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
The Father answered Solomon’s prayer and provided godly wisdom which only comes from above (James 3:15,17). The Father delights in giving wisdom to children of the King.
© Dr. H 2022