If God offered to give you anything your heart desires, what would it be?
In today’s passage, 1 kings 3, David’s son Solomon has succeeded him as king.
Solomon is doing his best to follow in David’s footsteps, serving God as David did.
He still though, like the rest of Israel, makes offerings to God at what were known as ‘high places.’ These are places where either other gods were worshipped or places where images of God were set up. Both weren’t really to God’s liking. But as the temple had not yet been built in Jerusalem, this was common practice.
Solomon goes to one of these high places just outside of Jerusalem and makes an extravagant offering to honour God. God sees Solomon’s heart and appears to him in the night in a dream, offering him anything that he asks for.
Solomon could have asked for great wealth, he could have asked for peace with his enemies or great military strength, he could have asked for a long life, he could have asked for anything.
Solomon’s prayer opens with a recap of the situation and a recognition that it is God’s great kindness that brought David and now Solomon to where they are now.
But Solomon is young, he is possibly anything between 12 years old and 20 years old. He is perhaps the same age as some of you that are following the 52 days of prayers challenge. Can you imagine what it must be like, at your age, to have to ensure the welfare of a whole nation?
Either way Solomon doesn’t have a lot of life experience to draw on and the responsibility of leading a nation weighs heavy on him.
Solomon feels that he lacks what he needs to be a good leader. So he asks asks God for wisdom. He literally asks for a ‘hearing heart’, a heart that hears God. A heart that enables him to perform the duties of a king which would have included judging the Israelites, negotiating with other nations and leading the Israelite army.
God is so pleased with Solomon’s prayer request that he not only grants him a hearing heart and more wisdom than anyone before or since, but he also gives him peace during his reign and incredible wealth.
I want to highlight a couple of things that I see in this prayer.
Firstly, God wants to know what we want, what we need. Jesus asks blind Bartimaeus a similar question “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) Elsewhere Jesus tells us to ask and we will receive (Matthew 7). And Jesus says that “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 16:3).
Of course God knows what we want and need but he desires the kind of relationship where we talk things through with him and look to him for our resources.
Secondly, that spiritual gifts are more desirable than things, stuff and money. Just as asking God for wisdom was a wise thing for Solomon to do, desiring spiritual gifts shows a spiritual maturity.
In the Gospels Jesus says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Just as Solomon sought a spiritual gift and received other blessings, if we truly seek God’s kingdom above all else we too will receive additional blessings, things we haven’t asked for. It might not be in the form of riches and a peaceful life, but it will still amaze us and bring us great joy.
So tonight, I think that God is saying to each of us, “Ask me for whatever you want me to give you. What is it that you want?” How are you going to respond?
Next time we are going to be reading about another of Solomon’s prayers. I found this next prayer particularly difficult to understand and had to ask for help in trying to decipher some of it. So don’t worry if you read it and find it difficult too. We will try and unpack it together next time.