"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"1 Kings 3:9(NASB)
The prayer of Solomon and the declaration he made as he prepared to take the reins of government from his father David, contain a prayerful acclamation that every child of God should seek after - an understanding heart, the wisdom to discern between good and evil, and the recognition that the God of Israel is the supreme Ruler of the universe and the only righteous Judge of heaven and earth.
Before his death, king David had charged his son to walk in God's ways and to keep His statutes, commandments, feasts, ordinances, and testimonies. The young king was instructed to govern according to all that is written in the Law of Moses... for to do so would ensure his success.
He appeared to put his father's advice into practice, for when the Lord appeared to the young king and asked him what he would like the Lord to do for him, Solomon requested an understanding heart so that he could judge God's people wisely. He asked to be equipped to discern between good and evil. He did not ask for wealth, power, or a long life, and his unselfish answer pleased the Lord.
Solomon not only gave a wise answer but recognised his own limitations when he confessed, "for who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" He gave the sort of answer any one of us would hope to give, if placed in a similar situation... and yet we read only a few verses earlier that he had made a political alliance with Egypt when he married Pharaoh’s daughter - an ungodly union which was expressly forbidden in the law of Moses.
Although his marriage may have been tactically advantageous it was a spiritual catastrophe for Solomon, for it set the king on the path of taking more wives and securing many more alliances with pagan kingdoms. The final tally for Solomon was 700 wives and 300 concubines!
Instead of walking in his father's statutes, he permitted high places to be built in Israel where sacrificial offerings were made to the satanic, pagan deities of many of his wives. We read that, "Solomon loved the Lord and walked in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He went onto the high place at Gibeon to sacrifice and offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar!"
Solomon believed in God... and no doubt his faith was reckoned as righteousness, but it seems that the profession Solomon made with his lips was insincere and despite the many spiritual gifts he received from the Lord, he engaged in carnal desires and indulged in fleshly pursuits - tarnishing a life that should have been a beacon of light and truth to his pagan neighbours.
Solomon did many wonderful things for the Lord, including the building of the House of God, but his witness was smeared by many foolish choices, when he strayed from walking in God's ways and did not keep His statutes, commandments, feasts, ordinances, and testimonies.
Understanding, discernment, and a knowledge of God's great power, were good requests to make... but perhaps a deeper knowledge of God Himself... His character, His ways, His work, His will, and His glory, may have been more beneficial in this young man's life, and would have produced an abundance of spiritual fruit and prevented him from straying so far from the path of peace.
In this dispensation of grace, we may not be under the Mosaic Law or required to keep the statutes, commandments, feasts, ordinances, and testimonies given to Israel, but we have the Word of God which instructs us on holy living, walking in spirit and truth, abiding in Christ, and growing in grace. And we have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God Who guides us into all truth, convicts and corrects us, chastises and trains us... so that we may mature in the faith and live a fruitful life that honours the Lord - as empowered by His sufficient strength.
As we consider that God has given us all we need for life and godliness in Christ - in Whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, may we be careful to discover more of His character, to walk in His ways, to listen to His voice, and obey all that the spirit says to the Churches.
May we carry out His good work in our life, pray into His perfect will, grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, and be quick to seek His glory.
Father God, how I praise and thank You for Your Word which provides Your children with the tools for godly lives and righteous living. Give me an understanding heart and the grace to discern between good and evil... but also, I pray that I would live a life that honours my Saviour and testifies to Your goodness and grace. I pray that I may have a teachable spirit and the dear desire to discover more of Christ, to walk in His ways, and to listen to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Keep me from straying from the path of peace and give me a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom I place my trust, AMEN.