The Lord Appears to Solomon
Open Your Bible
1 Kings 3:1-28, 1 Kings 4:1-34, 1 Kings 5:1-12, Proverbs 15:33, James 1:5
For a couple of years in the late ’90s, it was “cool” for girls to be ditzy. It was, like… so cute to act like you didn’t have a lot of common sense. This trend permeated culture with its linguistic “valleyspeak,” and was reinforced by iconic, pop culture movies like Clueless. As an awkward but intelligent middle school girl, I often bought into the false cultural narrative that smart girls aren’t as worthy or attractive or likely to succeed as the popular sort. I was tempted to “play dumb” in front of my peers, hoping they would like me more. It seemed (as it does so often today), that money and brands and clothes and cars were the most important things.
Thankfully, this phase–and middle school itself–didn’t last very long. I found bookish friends and kindred spirits, and we made it through high school with some confidence still intact. But the temptation to present myself as something more or different than who I truly am exists to this day. In every area of life, I believe I am not enough of what I ought to be, that there are things I can do to create an image of enough-ness.
After Solomon inherited the kingship from his father David, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God offered Solomon anything he wanted: “Ask. What should I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5).
What temptation must have presented itself in that moment! I wonder how I would answer that question, but in my heart I know. I would probably ask for financial security, or health and safety for everyone I love. I would ask for everyone to love me. I would ask for freedom from fear and pain. I would ask for many things—all of them for me.
But Solomon asked for others, and he asked for an invisible thing: wisdom. “Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership,” Solomon said. “Your servant is among your people you have chosen, a people too many to be numbered or counted. So give your servant a receptive heart to judge your people and to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:7–9).
Solomon asked for a heart and mind shaped more by God than by the world. And God answered that prayer lavishly. Solomon gained supernatural wisdom but also fame, wealth, and honor worldwide. “Emissaries of all peoples, sent by every king on earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom,” (1 Kings 4:34).
When Solomon judged wisely, he didn’t claim the fame for himself either—at least, not at first. After the infamous baby cutting story (1 Kings 3:16–28), the glory was God’s. “All Israel heard about the judgment the king had given, and they stood in awe of the king because they saw that God’s wisdom was in him to carry out justice” (v.28).
God doesn’t regularly appear to me in dreams, offering me whatever my heart desires. But Scripture does tell me that when I petition the Lord, He hears me. “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him,” (1 John 5:14–15). When we seek wisdom, we should seek “God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given” to us (James 1:5).
When I measure my prayers against Solomon’s, I see how material and vapid they tend to be. Yes, health, financial security, and safety are valid requests to bring to God. But the undergirding theme of my prayers should be about the shape of my heart, mind, and will, that they would be abounding with the wisdom of God and aligned with His mission to bring peace, shalom, and abundance to His people and His world.