Sermon on 1 Kings 3:5-12
Text: At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
In order to do a job or task, you have to have the right equipment to carry it out. The farmer needs to have their tractor, plow, and harvester. If you are a mechanic or carpenter, you need to have certain tools for the job. The student needs to have pencils, paper, and books. Without the proper equipment, it would be nearly impossible to do the job. In our text for this morning, we find an individual with a huge task in front of him. He quickly realized that he needed the proper equipment to carry it out. As we study his prayer, we also see our need to have the proper equipment to carry out the tasks that are placed in front of us. We join Solomon in praying, “EQUIP ME TO CARRY OUT MY DUTIES.” First of all, we will look at 1. The Request Of A Man Of God. Then, we will see 2. God’s Answer To His Servant.
Our text takes place early in the reign of King Solomon. His father, David, had recently passed away and Solomon succeeded him as king. One night Solomon had a dream. It says in verse 5, “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” God appeared to Solomon in some visible way in his dream. By means of this personal vision, God showed Solomon that he was with him as he began the task of ruling over Israel. He would not be facing this endeavor on his own. Then, God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” In essence, God gave Solomon a blank check. He could ask anything from God. If you were in Solomon’s shoes, what would you have asked for? Solomon could have asked for great wealth. He could have asked for greater power than any other ruler on the face of the earth. He could have asked for the death of his enemies. He had several of them, including members of his own family, who thought that they should have been made king rather than Solomon. The offer that God made to Solomon is staggering! “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon replied, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.” (Verse 6) The first thing that Solomon noted was the amazing love that God had shown to his father, David. God had blessed David. He ruled over Israel for forty years. Through God’s help, the boundaries of Israel had grown. God gave David a son to succeed him as king. Solomon, also, noted the characteristics of his father. “He was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart.” Elsewhere, David is described as “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14) This is not to say that David was perfect. When you read through the account of his life, there were many times that David stumbled and fell. However, as a believer, David’s sins were forgiven. He had a special relationship with God.
Then, Solomon mentioned the grace that had been shown to him, “You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.” There were other brothers that were older than Solomon, that you would have assumed would be the next king of Israel. Yet, God chose Solomon. This, to Solomon, was another evidence of God’s love that had been shown to him.
In response to the invitation, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” Solomon replied, “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (Verses 7-9) As Solomon looked at the task that lay ahead of him, he quickly realized the enormity of it. God placed him as king over one of the most powerful countries of his day. The boundaries of the land stretched all the way to the border of Egypt. Solomon mentions the fact that the population was “too numerous to count or number.” In addition, and far more importantly, Solomon was to rule the nation from which the Savior of the world would eventually come.
When Solomon looked at the task that God had given him to carry out, he knew that he couldn’t do it alone. He would need God’s help. So, in response to God’s invitation, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” Solomon said, “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” (Verse 9) Solomon requested the ability to listen, understand, and then make the right decision. He knew that he would listen to the various causes of the people and have to determine what was right and fair. This very practical gift would allow Solomon to be a good king and serve God out of thanksgiving for all that he had done for him. Solomon had a great task in front of him and asked God to help him carry it out.
Think for a moment of the various stations that God has placed you and the tasks that he asks you to carry out. You might be a church council member or a Sunday School teacher. You might be a husband or wife. God may have made you a parent. Do you ever think about the enormity of the task that God has given you to carry out? As a council member, you are asked to lead God’s people in your congregation. As a Sunday School teacher, you have been asked by the parents of our congregation to assist them in the spiritual training of their children. As a husband or wife, you are tasked with mirroring the love that God has for us to each other. As parents, God calls on you to raise your children. You are to give them the practical knowledge that they will need when they grow up. More importantly, God calls you to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Does that thought stop you in your tracks? Who is able to do this on their own?
Let us follow Solomon’s example and come to God asking him to give us the tools that we need to carry out these responsibilities. As we do so, we realize that we have no right to ask God for anything. Our sins have separated us from God. Every time that we shirk our responsibilities is a sin. Every time that we have been selfish and thought only of what we can get out of a situation rather than what we can do for others is a sin. On account of these sins, we not only do not have the right to come to God and ask him for anything. We deserve to be eternally separated from God for all eternity.
However, just as Solomon acknowledged the amazing love of God, we do the same. Where sin had separated us from God, Jesus came and brought us back together. His perfect life was necessary as he lived in our place. Hid suffering and death were necessary as he paid for all of our sins. His resurrection shows us that all has been done on our behalf. As a result of the fath that has been created in us, we have been made the children of God. As such, we have the invitation to come to God in prayer. He says to us, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” So, we pray that God would give us the necessary tools to carry out the tasks that he has given to us. We ask that he would give us the knowledge and the patience and whatever other qualities we might need to carry out our tasks in such a way that we might glorify God.
We note God’s response to this prayer of Solomon. It says in verse 10, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.” Solomon hadn’t asked for things for his own comfort or advancement. He wanted to serve God as a good king. In response, God said, “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (Verse 12) God held true to his promise. In 1 Kings 4:19&20, it is noted, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.” God gave him the tools that he would need to carry out the task that God had given him to do. I would also mention that, in addition to this wisdom, God further blessed Solomon with wealth and honor, which he hadn’t even asked for. God richly blessed Solomon and equipped him to carry out his duties.
We know that God will also bless us as we pray for those things that we need to carry out the tasks that he gives us to do. Rather than looking all over the place for help and advice, we come to God and ask him for all that we need so that we might serve him in the various stations in life he places us. We find the guidance that we need in his Word. Without the wisdom that is found there, people come up with incredibly stupid and ungodly ideas. We pray that God would help us to grow in our knowledge of him. The more that we know about him, the more our faith grows. The more that we grow in our faith, the more that we will want to serve him to thank him for all that he has done for us. God will give us the wisdom to carry out the various responsibilities to which he has called us. We find this promise in the book of James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:7) We pray that God would make us willing receptacles of the wisdom that he wants to share with us. We pray that God would continue to give us the wisdom to serve him in whatever we do.
I remember one time when I was in confirmation class and I had forgotten a pencil. When it came time to take notes that afternoon, obviously, I could not do it. My uncle, who was my pastor at the time, remarked that I was like a soldier going into battle without a gun. That point has stuck with me to this day. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have what I needed. So, I had to borrow a pencil to get through that class. As we live in this world, we are called on to carry out various responsibilities that God places us in. However, he doesn’t give us the task, without also giving us the tools that we need to do what needs to be done. May we remember to ask him for the tools that we need. May we be minded to pray, “Lord, equip me to carry out all of my duties always to your glory.” Amen.
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