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1 Kings 3:11-13. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment: behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
SUCH is the condescension of Almighty God, that he not only conversed familiarly with man in a state of innocence, but even in his fallen state has talked with him as a man talketh with his friend. So free was the intercourse which he maintained with Abraham, that that patriarch was “called the friend of God.” With Solomon too his communications were most familiar, as the instance recorded in our text will evince. Solomon, after he was seated on the throne of David his father, offered a thousand burnt-offerings at Gibeon, where God’s principal altar was, previous to the building of the temple. After that pious work was performed, God visited him, and revealed himself to him in a dream or vision, and bade him ask any blessing that he chose; assuring him that it should certainly be granted. Solomon accepted the offer, and made known to God the request contained in our text.
Let us consider,
The choice of Solomon—
His request was for a more abundant measure of wisdom—
[In this request, he desired intellectual wisdom, whereby he might be fitted for all the duties and services of his high station. He was conscious, that, without this, he should but ill discharge the office to which God in his providence had called him. He felt the awful responsibility attached to the office of a monarch; and he longed to approve himself both able and faithful in the execution of his trust.
But it is evident that he desired spiritual wisdom also; for he wanted “to discern in all things between good and bad,” which he could not do without a clear discovery of the Law, which is the only true test of good and evil.
Now this was a wise choice. He might, as God tells him, have asked for riches, or honour, or power over his enemies: but he felt that none of those things could make him happy, or render those happy who were committed to his care. Indeed we need only look at those who have been most famed for their conquests, and we shall find, that no acquisitions of wealth or territory could satisfy them; and that they have been no less a curse to the people they governed, than to those whom they endeavoured to subdue; since they sought only to gratify their own ambition at the expense of those, whose welfare they should have solely regarded. But without extending our views to them, we need only look within the narrow circle of our own acquaintance, and we shall see, that wisdom conduces more to the happiness of men, than all other things whatever. See the man that is enabled to conduct himself well in the most arduous affairs of life, how happy does he make all who are connected with him; especially, if he be endued with spiritual wisdom also, so as to have a spiritual discernment in every thing relating to God and man! What a light then shines around him; and what blessings does he communicate wherever he comes! Compare such an one with the great, the rich, the mighty, and he will be found far happier than them all.
This choice moreover was approved of God himself, who not only commended it as wise, but honoured it with a rich reward; giving him in a very abundant measure the blessing he desired [Note: 1 Kings 4:29-31.], and bestowing on him also those minor blessings which he had forborne to ask.]
From this brief view of Solomon’s choice we may easily collect,
The instruction to be gathered from it—
It clearly shews,
That an ability to discharge our duty aright is the most desirable of all blessings—
[In whatever line of life we be, this will be found a truth. Persons in higher life may, if truly gracious, do extensive good: but wealth and power are abused, so as rather to diminish than augment the happiness of those who are within the sphere of their influence. Besides, in many cases, wealth and power can do no good at all; whereas wisdom is serviceable in every situation in which we can be placed; nor is there a man existing who may not be benefited by the possessor of it. “Wisdom,” we are told, “is profitable to direct:” and whilst it regulates the motions of others, it will enable a man to “guide his own affairs with discretion,” and to “walk wisely before God in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].”
Need I say from how many difficulties and evils it will keep a man; or what peace and joy it will bring into the soul? Truly, as in the want of this not all the world can give any permanent satisfaction, so, in the absence of all other things, this will afford the richest comfort and support. We may well therefore say, that nothing in the universe is to be compared to it [Note: Proverbs 3:13-18.]. Would to God that the rich and great in every place made it, in the days of youth too, the one object of their pursuit!]
That it is the gift of God alone—
[Education will improve our talents; but it will never confer solid wisdom: that “cometh from above [Note: James 1:17.].” We may go to every creature in the universe, and they will all give us the same answer, “It is not in me; it is not in me [Note: See that eloquent passage, Job 28:12-23.].” The man famed for wisdom almost as much as Solomon himself [Note: Ezekiel 28:3.], has directed us to God as the only true source of all wisdom [Note: Daniel 2:20-21.]. We must seek it therefore, not by study only, but by prayer; for “it is God that giveth wisdom; and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding [Note: Proverbs 2:1-6.].” If any man could have derived it from any other source, surely Solomon might; seeing that he was naturally possessed of strong mental powers, and had the advantage of being instructed by the most pious and experienced of kings. But he felt that none but God could open the eyes of his understanding, or enrich him with that spiritual knowledge, which alone could qualify him for the discharge of his high office.]
That where a desire after it is supreme in the soul, God will signally honour and bless us—
[The desire after wisdom ought to be so predominant in the soul as to have no rival there: if it be not supremely coveted, the desire after it is not sincere. But where it is really sought as the supreme good, there God promises that he will grant it, yea and liberally too, if we come to him in faith, and ask it at his hands [Note: James 1:5; Ephesians 3:20.]. To desire this is the best way of obtaining other blessings in the measure that is good for us: for God promises, that, if we “seek spiritual blessings first, all other things shall be added unto us [Note: Matthew 6:33.].” We are far from saying, that other things are not to be sought at all; we only say, that they must be regarded as altogether subordinate to spiritual blessings, and be valued only as they may be subservient to the advancing of God’s honour and the good of mankind. In this view, riches, honour, and power may be desired; but in comparison of true wisdom, they must be regarded only as the small dust upon the balance.]
Those who are ambitious of earthly honours—
[Think but how speedily they will vanish, and you will raise your ambition to that which shall endure for ever [Note: Psalms 90:12.] — — —]
Those who desire the approbation of their God—
[God makes the same offer to you that he did to Solomon [Note: John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24.]. Let your choice then be the same as his: and seek it with all the ardour and earnestness it deserves [Note: Proverbs 4:5-7.] — — —]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany