Friday 05 February 2010

Bible Book:
1 Kings

"And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in ... Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?" (v.7, 9)

1 Kings 3:1-15 Friday 5 February 2010


Today's passage comes after the accession of Solomon to thethrone. Immediately before, Solomon had solidified his power byordering the death of his older brother Adonijah and replacingministers loyal to him (1Kings 2:25-46). The author of the text wanted the reader toknow that Solomon had made a good start as king, saying he "lovedthe Lord". However, the author allowed that Solomon did makesacrifices at many small shrines - "high places" - when the commandwas to worship only at Jerusalem, but he had not yet built hisTemple. He had a way to go to be a righteous king but was on theright track.

Often in the Hebrew Scriptures God spoke through dreams. Far frombeing treated as less than real, these were given great authority.In this passage, God came to Solomon and asked him what gift hewould like to be given. Here, Solomon departed strongly from thepower-hungry record of his father and brothers, humbly asking forthe gift of wisdom. God said yes, and gave him everything elsebesides, as reward for a good choice.

In the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, wisdom was not justeducation or knowledge. Wisdom indicated the power of seeing thingsas they really were, and discerning God's will in them. Thus in thebook of Proverbs, wisdom was spoken of as a woman who "cries out inthe street" and "in the squares she raises her voice" (Proverbs1:20). Wisdom was associated with bringing God's justice and wasoften at odds with the popular power of the day. It was thus aninteresting gift for the king to ask for.

Jesus would come to be associated with this wisdom tradition in thetime of the early Church. If wisdom was one way that God came closeto humanity in the Hebrew Scriptures, that tradition was carried inJesus' coming as the 'Word made flesh' (John1:14). Solomon's dream request to God is worth repeating forourselves, whatever our sense of belief.

To Ponder

What does wisdom mean to you? How do yourecognise a wise person?

Can you think of any contemporary leaders youwould describe as 'wise'? Why, or why not? What makes them wise inyour eyes?

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