3Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” 10It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”
1 Kings 3:3-14
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
As I have shared with many of you before, I love birds. One of my favorite birds has always been the owl. You can look at the image above and see why these stately creatures are held in high esteem. Large, powerful, and confident, the owl has rightly earned its reputation as a symbol of regal wisdom. Just like the owl symbolizes wisdom for us in the animal kingdom, Solomon symbolizes wisdom fro us in the world of biblical literature.
Wisdom – it is one of those things we might be tempted to think that we have in abundance while the rest of the world sorely lacks it. But one of the ways we receive wisdom is by humbly recognizing both our inability to “go it alone” and our need for others. Solomon was in a position of leadership and great responsibility and he was overwhelmed by the task of ruling over the people of God. In order to lead well, he had to trust in God’s resources, God’s perspective, and God’s power. Ultimately, that is what it means to have wisdom – to know when and how to trust in God.
The Hebrew words used in this passage for wise and discerning (verse 12) mean being able to perceive what is truly going on based on many years of previous experience in similar situations. But Solomon himself admits that he is but a child (verse 7)! God, however, is from everlasting to everlasting and has literally “seen it all over the years.” Nothing that Solomon would face as king over Israel would take God by surprise.
Likewise, nothing that you and I experience will ever be outside of God’s experience and “know-how.” We might not be kings and queens, but we face uncertain situations of great importance to us and to those around us. God has faced all of it before and can see our situations from all angles. When it is too complex or mysterious for us, we can rest assured knowing that it is all plainly laid out before God. What larger than life situations loom menacingly over you right now? Where do you need clarity and vision? God the all-wise is inviting you into a new opportunity to trust in heavenly resources beyond your own.
Reflect on these questions this week as you journal:
- What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
- Have you ever been in a situation in which you had knowledge, but lacked needed wisdom? What was that situation like and how did you respond?
- Can you have wisdom without having knowledge?
- How do you acquire wisdom?
- How have you displayed or experienced wisdom recently?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Cloud of Witnesses:
Richard Foster is a writer and teacher who focuses his work on the spiritual practices of the Christian faith. A Quaker, Foster has helped countless Christians center upon the prevailing presence of God in the stillness and depth of individual and communal silence and spiritual intentionality. He has written on topics such as prayer, meditation, Bible study, simplicity, and many other Christian practices. There is no wiser use of our time and energy than engaging in these practices. His most important work is the book Celebration of Discipline. You can explore his many other works here. Foster also founded Renovare – a renewal and resource organization – that, according to their website, “provides practical resources for cultivating a life—the with-God life—that makes us like Jesus from the inside out.”
Listen to the hymn, God of Grace and God of Glory (#577 in our United Methodist Hymnal). You can download the song here if you’d like. As you listen to this song and sing along, notice that God’s grace gives us the wisdom and courage we need to be people of praise, goodness, and peace. When our lives reflect these realities, we will bring God glory and witness to God’s light. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
This week, pray for discernment – that is, the ability to see and understand God’s will in a given situation. Perhaps you or someone you know is trying to make a big, life-changing decision. Or maybe you are presented with several choices in a matter and need help knowing which option is best. You could be in the process of discovering whom you can trust with an important task or relationship. However it is that you need direction and discernment, trust God with the process through prayer. Even our everyday struggles require discernment – the wisdom to know how to move from confusion to clarity. Express your need to God and then listen for God’s wise way forward.
Think of the wisest person you have known. Picture them in your mind and imagine them acting wisely. Perhaps this will be a recollection of a memory in which you witnessed their wisdom or were taught by them. Maybe you will want to picture them facing a dilemma that you are facing. How do they respond to this situation? Is it different from how you would respond? Try to hear their voice, see their facial expressions, and read their nonverbal cues as you ponder along with them your present life circumstances. What makes them so wise? How might you inherit their wisdom? How might you be a wise mentor for others? As you close your time of mediation, imagine yourself offering thanksgiving to your wise mentor and praising God for them.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- Where have I seen wisdom and foolishness on display around me?
- How have I acted wisely?
- How have I acted foolishly?
- Where might God be leading me?
- How might I need courage and openness to receive God’s wise counsel?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Ponder a deep thought this week. Take about twenty minutes and just think. Reflect on the mysteries of life, like good old Pooh Bear, sitting on his tree stump, rubbing his head, and repeating “think, think, think.” Perhaps you would like to pose a big question to yourself, such as “What is the meaning of this season of my life?” We are presented with so many superficialities in life that we sometimes need to discipline ourselves to think deeply. So go for it – get lost for a while in your thoughts!
Breath Prayer: LORD God, grant us wisdom and grant us peace.