Please forgive me for focusing on Chapter 3 of 1 Kings only, but verse 10 struck me as brief but profound. “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.” For me, it begged the question: what is it I could do to bring God that kind of satisfaction?
What pleased God was Solomon’s response to a command: “Ask what I should give you.” Really, Solomon’s response is fairly straightforward. Solomon praises God for His “great and steadfast love for the Israelites, Solomon’s family, and Solomon himself. Next, Solomon humbles himself, calling himself a “little child” who doesn’t know “how to go out or come in.” And next, Solomon accepts that he is entirely reliant on God and he asks for “an understanding mind” that he could not possibly possess on his own.
“Understanding mind.” (Thanks to my study Bible on this point…) When Solomon requests an understanding mind, he is asking also for a “listening heart.” Today, we think the heart is separate from the mind, but I think the Israelites saw a heart that integrated the two. They saw the heart as the seat of both intellect and perception, and Solomon is asking for a heart that is open to what God has to say.
To me, what Solomon is asking is for a relationship. He wants to understand and hear God’s voice guiding his decisions. For me, I think it’s easy to cut to the chase, and focus on Solomon’s request only. I know I ask for wisdom, patience, or maybe simply ask God to tell me what choices to make. But, really, I’m trying to short circuit the process by neglecting the three steps necessary for drawing near to God: praising God, humbling myself, and acknowledging my need for God.
One last reflection. The last verse in this passage says that Solomon awakes from his dream and does two things. First, he worships at the covenant of the Lord. Key point: Solomon seeks to enter into the same covenant that God has honored for preceding generations. His next action? Celebrate with a feast.
How would you respond if God asked you to tell Him what you want him to give you? Nothing would be more pleasing to Him than for you to ask to enter into the same covenant relationship that He has offered to generations upon generations. And nothing is more worthy of celebration.