1Kgs 3:1 And Solomon made himself son-in-law to Pharaoh King of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter; and he brought her into the City of David until he had finished building his own house, and the house of Jehovah, and the wall all around Jerusalem.
1Kgs 3:2 The people were sacrificing at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of Jehovah until those days.
1Kgs 3:3 And Solomon loved Jehovah, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he was sacrificing and burning incense at the high places.
1Kgs 3:4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.
Before Solomon steps officially into his rightful place on the throne of David’s palace, he draws aside to offer sacrifices of devotion to the God of his father. He truly had more pressing things to do and I would think many might have thought he should be evaluating the strength of his armies, making plans to govern his kingdom, or counting his treasure. But Solomon didn’t do that. He chose instead to go to the tabernacle and seek God. David, his father, had somehow captured the heart of God and because of that Solomon himself was blessed. Yet Solomon wanted to meet God for himself in order to follow his own path before Almighty God.
Was he unsure of ruling this kingdom his father David had built? Probably so to a degree. It was his now to prosper, rule and judge. Solomon knew the task was too great to handle alone. He needed and desired God’s counsel; so he offered a thousand sacrifices and prayed. Such a beautiful and costly act of worship would truly mark his kingship and be the foundation of his reign over Israel. God was first. No sacrifice was too great in His cause, and nothing was more important in his heart than God.
Solomon knew his father’s reign had been marked by conquest, battle and blood. Dare he pray that his reign might be one of wisdom, prosperity and peace? The Lord provided Solomon with an answer. Note that Solomon only prayed for an understanding heart. He did not pray for prosperity or peace.
1Kgs 3:5 At Gibeon Jehovah appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, Ask; what shall I give you?
Scripture doesn’t tell us that Solomon even stirred but somehow, in his dream, he prayed:
1Kgs 3:5 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 sitting on his throne, as it is this day.
1Kgs 3:7 Now, O Jehovah 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.
1Kgs 3:8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted for multitude.
1Kgs 3:9 Therefore give to Your servant an 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?
Can you imagine how this prayer pleased God? And what an answer He gave Solomon!
1Kgs 3:10 And the word was good in the eyes of Jehovah, that Solomon had asked this thing.
1Kgs 3:11 And 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,
1Kgs 3:12 behold, I have done according to your words; behold, 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.
1Kgs 3:13 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.
1Kgs 3:14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David has walked, then I will prolong your days.
Then Solomon awoke.
1Kgs 3:15 And Solomon awoke; and behold it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, offered up burnt offerings, offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
How Solomon must have wondered at this dream! Matthew Henry says it well:
What we are most in care about, and which makes the greatest impression upon us when we are awake, commonly affects us when we are asleep; and by our dreams, sometimes, we may know what our hearts are upon and how our pulse beats.
Solomon – Jedidiah, which signifies beloved of the Lord; the name He had given him at birth through the prophet Nathan – was ready to face his duties as king of God’s people on the earth.
David had very patiently submitted to the will of God in the death of the other child, and now God made up the loss of that, abundantly to his advantage, in the birth of this. The way to have our creature-comforts either continued or restored, or the loss of them made up some other way, is cheerfully to resign them to God. 2. Inasmuch as, by his grace, he particularly owned and favored that son: The Lord loved him (2Sa_12:24 and 2Sa_12:25), ordered him, by the prophet Nathan, to be called Jedidiah – Beloved of the Lord: though a seed of evil-doers (for such David and Bath-sheba were), yet so well ordered was the covenant, and the crown entailed by it, that it took away all attainders and corruption of blood, signifying that those who were by nature children of wrath and disobedience should, by the covenant of grace, not only be reconciled, but made favorites. And, in this name, he typified Jesus Christ, that blessed Jedidiah, the son of God’s love, concerning whom God declared again and again, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew Henry
Even though Solomon’s prayer came in a dream according to Scripture, how often is our prayer one of requesting understanding in judgment? I recognize that many will say the judgment being spoken of here is as “king of the people”, however, to me by sheer definition of the word judgment, we are speaking of a far more bigger picture. The definition of judgment includes phrases such as: the determination of the mind, the faculty of the mind, opinion or notion (and yes it includes much more). Solomon asked for an understanding HEART in judging God’s people. God gave Solomon a “wise” and understanding heart. Bearing in mind (LOL) the above phrases from the definition of judgment, the word wise speaks of our minds. My question to you today is – do we judge with just our minds or do we judge with our wisdom (mind) and our heart? I would say to you, that more often than not, we judge with our minds and not our hearts, when in fact, both should be in a concert of prayer.