By Elizabeth Prata*
Everyone knows Solomon asked God for wisdom. However people forget that he actually asked God for two things. The second thing was discernment. Here is the verse:
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9)
So Solomon asked for an understanding mind to govern and discernment to distinguish between good and evil, or right and wrong as some translations go.
Solomon’s request was not only spiritual, for he already had a measure of discernment given his relationship with God and having learned from David, his father. But Solomon’s request also related to civil and governing capacities. A total package- he was to be able to judge people rightly in matters, to solve controversies, and to be fair to one and all.
Solomon didn’t consider himself and ask for a long life or wealth or health. He asked God for the tools to help him help God’s people.
The LORD was greatly pleased with Solomon’s request.
James says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God and He will give it without reproach. (James 1:5). God was pleased with Solomon’s request, because at root, it honored God and served His people. The Spirit breathed inspiration to James that anyone could and should ask for wisdom. The Lord is not stingy with handing out wisdom or discernment. If you do not have the particular gift from the Spirit of discernment, you can simply ask for more discernment/wisdom in your daily life, and He will increase you. The intent is, you’ll use it for God’s glory and to help His people.
There is a flip side to this also. Solomon dissipated. When it was time for Solomon to build the Temple, the LORD had told Solomon in 1 Kings 6:12 that IF Solomon “will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father.”
The glory that was Israel’s military might, wealth, protection, and increase were onerously placed on Solomon’s shoulders. As Matthew Henry said, “None employ themselves for God, without having his eye upon them. But God plainly let Solomon know that all the charge for building this temple, would neither excuse from obedience to the law of God, nor shelter from his judgments, in case of disobedience.”
Luke 12:48b says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required,”
Gill’s Exposition says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall, much be required: the more knowledge a man has, the more practice is expected from him; and the greater his gifts are, the more useful he ought to be, and diligent in the improvement of them”
The LORD reiterated the condition when Solomon prayed the dedication prayer at the newly built temple.
“But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins.” (1 Kings 9:6-9)
So with all Solomon’s wisdom, he still backslid. With all his discernment, he allowed paganism into his heart in marrying over 700 women and having over 300 concubines. They were from foreign lands and they persuaded him to turn away from God and commit spiritual fornication with false gods.
Having wisdom and discernment is no guarantee that without all due purity in public and private life, you won’t be turned away from God.
But do ask God for wisdom. If you dare! Wisdom is knowing how to apply your knowledge. Discernment is detecting not just right from wrong or good from evil, “but right from almost right” (Charles Spurgeon).
It goes without saying the discernment and wisdom that we yearn for and live by are God’s truths, not man’s. Live by His statutes and His paths, and ask for the wisdom and discernment to always remain there, walking uprightly in His wise ways. Discernment is a bestowal from the Lord which honors Him and serves the brethren. And it greatly pleases the Lord when we ask for it.
*This essay first appeared on The End Time in September 2013