Scripture: 1 Kings Chapter 3
Theme: Praying (asking for) wisdom and understanding.
Introduction.) What is wisdom and understanding and why should we ask for it?
A.) Define wisdom and understanding.
i.] wisdom- 1.)the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. 2.) the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. 3.) the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.
a.] It’s the second definition there that I think is most applicable this
morning, as when we pray we are essentially asking God to help us to take
the right action or make the right decision.
-Certainly, as we are going to see in a few moments, the character in
our scripture for this morning was seeking help in this area in his
ii.] understanding- 1.)the ability to understand something; comprehension. 2.) an individual's perception or judgment of a situation. 3.) sympathetically aware of other people's feelings; tolerant and forgiving. 4.) having insight or good judgment.
a.] I think all of these definitions are important to know if we want to know
what it truly means to have understanding.
-“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise.
Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it.There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom”. -Charles Spurgeon
B.) So why exactly do we need wisdom and understanding?
i.] Well, I think that’s actually a pretty simple question to answer.
a.] Life is full of decisions, is it not? And sometimes there isn’t always a
clear right and wrong decision to any given situation, right?
-And so, many times we need the type of wisdom and understanding
that only comes from God to help us to know the next right thing to
-We especially need insight, good judgment, and sympathetic awareness since often our need for understanding involves other people and their life problems and emotions.
*The Pastor Michael definition here would be this: “Having insight or good judgment is necessary so that we might take sound actions and make right decisions in order that we might have sympathy and compassion in our encounters with other people.”
1 Kings 3 New King James Version (NKJV)
Solomon Requests Wisdom
“3 Now Solomon made [a]a treaty with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter; then he brought her to the City of David until he had finished building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall all around Jerusalem. 2 Meanwhile the people sacrificed at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days. 3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places.
4 Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an [b]understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen[c] your days.”
15 Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.”
I.) God gives Solomon a blank check. (1 kings 3:4&5)
A.) In verse four we find Solomon worshipping at Gibeon. (Verse 4)
i.] I would like to note that Solomon should not have been worshipping here.
a.] If we look back at verse three it says that, Solomon loved the Lord and
walked in all the ways of his father, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places.
-The significance of this is that the “high places” was a pagan idea that basically said that if you worshipped at the high places you were
somehow closer to the (g)od’s spiritually.
-So where Solomon should have been was wherever the Ark of the
Covenant (the presence of God) was.
ii.) Still, scripture says that Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.
a.] As far as the OT worship goes, Solomon was Worshipping!
-Just imagine how long it must have taken Solomon to make all of
these offerings to God; and sometimes we complain about a two hour
church service, don’t we?
b.] I want you to think also about the great personal cost that this kind of
worship would have required; a thousand burnt offerings would have
required a thousand goats or sheep, or whatever animal Solomon used.
-How much money would Solomon have given up to make such
-My point here is that Solomon truly and deeply loved God, evidenced
here by the genuineness of his worship; his heart was determined to
use his wealth to glorify God.
B.) Because Solomon’s worship was so genuine, God speaks to him. (Verse 5)
i.] God comes to him in a dream and says what? The NIV says, “Ask for whatever
you want me to give you.” Let me just say two things about this:
a.] One: If God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted, you and I can
be sure that whatever he had asked for, God would have given it to him.
-In other words, God gave Solomon a blank check to ask for any silly
little thing that he might have wanted or to ask for something truly
b.) Two: In our lives, God may never say to us what He said to Solomon, but
when we pray we should still expect that God is going to answer.
-It would be a perfectly natural reaction for you and I to want this kind
of promise from God; and we do.
*Matthew 7:7 -I believe that when we have that attitude the things that you and I ask
*John 15:7 for in prayer begin to change because as we start to realize that God
*1 John 5:14 wants to answer our prayers we start to appreciate His provision even
more, and so we don’t want to waste His time asking for things that
wouldn’t be beneficial for His kingdom or for us.
ii.] And let me also say that this didn’t happen just because of Solomon’s thousand
sacrifices, but also because his heart was wholly surrendered to God.
a.] And I think that God wanted to do something with or through Solomon
with this offer and his response to it.
-And so I think we need to understand that when God gives us options
in life He is giving us the opportunity to choose that which is better.
In other words I think God wants us to come to the right decision on
our own as a result of a close relationship with Him.
-Solomon obviously did, but let me just say that God’s grace is plenty
big enough for those times where we make the wrong decisions.
*The take away here, I think, is that as we worship God more and more genuinely and sincerely, we gain more and more access to His favor. Whether we really ‘deserve’ it or not.
II.) Solomon’s response. (1 kings 3:6-9)
A.) Solomon acknowledges what God has done. [Verse 6]
i.] He states that God had shown kindness to his father, David, and that now God
was continuing that kindness with himself.
a.] It seems to me that Solomon at this point in his life was a very humble
young man, who truly loved God because here we find him giving God all
the credit in his worship.
-I want you to also notice that Solomon understood the key to life that
made his father, David, such a man of God. Solomon says, “because he walked before you in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with you”.
-In short, he had a good foundation of faith and good understanding of
who God was.
B.) Solomon understood his limitations. [Verse 7]
i.] Notice what Solomon prays. “but I am a little child; I do not know how to go
out or come in.” The NIV says, “and do not know how to carry out my duties.”
a.] Now in reality Solomon was about twenty at this time, not exactly a
“Little” child, but what he was saying was that he was inexperienced and
unprepared for his responsibility as king.
-What a humble acknowledgement from someone who very easily
could have acted very egotistically.
-We would all do well to learn an important lesson from Solomon by
knowing and admitting to our limitations; we as a church would serve
each other and our community much better!
b.] I also want you to understand that this wasn’t false humility on
Solomon’s part; he wasn’t making excuses here for why he couldn’t do what
-Rather he was admitting that the job was too big and too hard for him
to do on his own and so he was asking for God’s help.
C.) Solomon understood the enormity of his task as king. [Verse 8]
i.] Solomon describes Israel as “a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.”
a.] Solomon understood all too well that he was only one man tasked with
trying to lead hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.
-And so he knew he was going to need some help; how many of you
know that we need help as well?
D.) And so what does Solomon ask for in light of all he just admitted? [Verse 9]
i.] An understanding, or discerning, heart.
a.] That phrase indicates an ability to patiently listen to all sides of a an
issue in order to come to the best decision or judgment possible.
-Solomon could have asked for anything; wealth, fame, prosperity,
anything, instead he asks for something completely unselfish, that
would benefit all of Israel. And why does he do this?
-Listen again to what the end of verse 9 says. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
*It seems to me that Solomon already had a great deal of wisdom, because he knew what to ask for. What he was really after was sound judgment, since as king, he would need to make good judgments. And if Solomon understood exactly what he needed to be an effective leader, I wonder if we understand that we also need wisdom to carry out God’s will for our lives. And I wonder if we even think to ask for it.
III.) God’s great response. (1 Kings 3:10-15)
A.) First note that God was pleased with Solomon’s request. [Verses 10&11]
i.] He was pleased because Solomon requested something that was in line with His
will, when he could easily have asked for something very selfish.
a.] He could have asked for long life, wealth, or even the lives of his
enemies and God would have given it to him.
-Instead he asked for discernment in administering justice, something
that obviously pleased God.
B.) Now I want you to pay close attention to what happens next. [Verses 12&13]
i.] In verse twelve God says that He will do what Solomon has asked, which we all
knew He would; He’s God, He’s faithful.
a.] But watch what God says at the end of verse twelve, “so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.”
-So not only is Solomon going to be wise and discerning, he’s going
to be the most wise and discerning individual ever!
ii.] Notice what happens next in verse thirteen; this just blows my mind!
a.] Because Solomon asked for something that would be for the benefit of
the whole nation of Israel instead of something self serving, God does
-He now gives Solomon the things he didn’t ask for: wealth and
honor. And not just some, but so much that there would never be a
king of Israel as great as Solomon.
-God is good! Amen?
C.) A promise with a stipulation. [Verses 14&15]
Ex 20:12 i.] “14So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”*
a.] God promises something further to Solomon; that if he will be obedient,
God will give him a long life.
-I think it’s at least possible that this was an incentive for Solomon to
abandon some of those pagan customs that he observed and to be
faithful to God throughout his life.
ii.] Solomon returns to worship at the tabernacle(Ark of the Covenant).
a.] This of course is significant because of those pagan observances I just
-Sometimes, like Solomon, all we need to shift our focus back to the
important things is to experience God’s goodness!
*So I want to ask you a question and you can think about it as I’m finishing up and throughout the week. The question is this: In our prayer life are we asking God for things that please Him or are we asking for things that will bring us immediate gratification? Are we asking for wisdom and discernment to help us walk out this life? Because I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get!
So what’s the Point?
1.) We should approach God as if He’s going to answer.
-Because He will.
2.)We should regularly be asking God for Discernment.
-Because, let’s face it, we need it.
3.) God is good.
-When we ask in His will, He will bless us with the things we did not ask for.
“Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.”
― J.I. Packer
Solomon’s Wise Judgment
16Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. 17And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. 18Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. 19And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. 21And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
22Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.”
And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.”
Thus they spoke before the king.
23And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’ ” 24Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!”
But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
27So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
28And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.
*Solomon could not have made such a sound judgment without God’s help. My hope for you and I today is that we will come to understand that there are a great many things that we cannot do well without God’s help!