Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 3:11

God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Children;   Communion;   Dream;   Heart;   Longevity;   Prayer;   Solomon;   The Topic Concordance - Obedience;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Dreams;   Enemies;   Justice;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Solomon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Justice;   Kings, First and Second, Theology of;   Prayer;   Wisdom;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Meshach;   Solomon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Intercession;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Gold;   Worldliness (2);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Dream;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Divide;   Dream;   Intercession;   Wisdom of Solomon, the;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thine enemies - e. g. Hadad the Edomite 1 Kings 11:14-22 and Rezon the son of Eliadah 1 Kings 11:23-25, whom Solomon might well have wished to remove.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And God said unto him,.... Being yet in a dream:

because thou hast asked this thing; wisdom for government:

and hast not asked for thyself long life; which is naturally desired by men, and always reckoned a great temporal blessing, and especially to be wished for by a king living in great pomp and splendour:

neither hast asked riches for thyself; to support his grandeur; for though David his father had left him much, yet not for himself, but for the building of the temple:

nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; victory over them, and to have it in his power to take away their lives when he pleased; which kings, and especially tyrants, are desirous of, such as are ambitious, haughty, and revengeful:

but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; where the right of a cause lay, that so he might make a right judgment of it, and pass a righteous sentence, a sentence not to the injury of any.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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 h enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

(h) That is, that their enemy would die.
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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

SOLOMON’S PRAYER

‘Thou hast asked.’

1 Kings 3:11

The day of sacrifice is succeeded by a night of revelation. It is almost a reflection of the paradise lost when, after a day of blessed and happy toil, Adam and Eve saw and listened to God in the cool of the evening.

I. The prayer which Solomon offered is in many respects a model.—All prayers must have certain points in common, as the letters in some heavy mail with various contents yet resemble one another closely enough to be included in the one despatch. You will notice in this prayer Gratitude (6), Humility (7), Dependence (8), and Wisdom (9). ‘A little child,’ probably not more than twenty years of age, Solomon recognises in himself the fulfilment of God’s promise to David. ‘Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.’ Let us train ourselves to detect the direct answers to our prayers; the plain accomplishment of God’s promises. Yet this great access of honour solemnised rather than elated Solomon. He was there however in no strength of his own. ‘Thou hast made me king in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen.’ God loves to have us lay the burden as well as the praise at His feet.

II. Our chief attention, however, should be paid to that for which Solomon pleaded.—God’s words to him suggest other things for which he might have asked. Long life was a special boon in these wild and uncertain times, and Solomon had seen enough of violence in the home of his father to know how rare and how precious this was. For the splendid plans which he was forming for the future of himself and his people he might have asked for wealth. The son of a soldier, it might have been the life of his enemies that he craved. Let me live, let me prosper, let me prevail, these are three wishes which lie at the root of a good deal of prayer. They are foremost essentials in the gospel of getting on which is preached very generally now. But Solomon said: ‘Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?’ What did he ask for? Moral discernment. An echo here of the injunction ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ There are two sorts of kings—first, the warrior; second, the judge. David was the first. He would hardly have offered this prayer. The first conception of a king was very probably of the man who was successful in battle. But it is a harder thing to rule wisely than to fight victoriously. The making of a land is a more serious problem than the conquering of it. This was what Solomon had begun to see. It is what we need to see now. In England and in America alike we need not so much soldiers as statesmen. ‘And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.’

III. How did God show His approval?—He gave Solomon all he asked for, and added to this understanding heart what Solomon did not ask for, ‘riches and honour.’

But notice two points that we are apt to overlook.

(a) God gave him all this wonderful store of blessings just because he had known what to ask for. ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ The man who puts wisdom first and foremost can be trusted with wealth and success.

(b) And, again, He did not give it all unconditionally. ‘If thou wilt walk in My ways.’ For already there were shadows amid the sunshine, and an undertone of warning in the burst of praise. ‘Solomon took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David.’ ‘Solomon loved the Lord … only he sacrificed in high places.’

So there is ‘the little rift within the lute.’ No course of continuous progress was promised to Israel. ‘There was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.’ Not the most desirable answer to prayer after all. There is a note of finality in it which ‘by and by shall make the music mute.’ No true man wishes to be the wisest one that the world shall ever see.

Illustrations

(1) ‘“Ask!” Cromwell says in one of his letters that “to be a seeker is to be of the best sect next to a finder.” The one leads to the other. Seeking is the path to finding.’

(2) ‘We may have felt perplexed to find out just how the wisdom for which Solomon is so famous manifested itself. He reigned forty years, and died at the age of sixty. The splendour of the dawning years of his reign is in sad contrast to the gloom of its close. But he showed his wisdom in asking for wisdom. He showed it in asking for the highest kind of blessing. He failed indeed, but it was because he did not listen to the warning “if” in God’s promise to him.’

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 3:11 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;

Ver. 11. And hast not asked for thyself long life.] Which yet most men covet. [Psalms 34:12] {See Trapp on "Psalms 34:12"}

Neither hast asked riches.] As the many do. [Psalms 4:7]

Nor hast asked the life of thine enemies.] Which, oh, how sweet is it to vindictive spirits! And God, we see, here taketh distinct notice of that which men most desire.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; that God would take away their lives, or put them into thy power to destroy them.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

11.Understanding to discern judgment — Literally, to know to hear judgment; that is, ability to understand how to hear suits or causes, and dispense justice.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-3.html. 1874-1909.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) Because thou hast asked.—It is obvious to note this verse as a fulfilment of the Divine law, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and -all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). All these secondary blessings are good, just so far as they conduce to the supreme good, which is the growth of the human nature, by the knowledge of God and by faithfully doing His work on earth, to the perfection designed for it in His wisdom. So long as Solomon used them in subordination to true wisdom, they were a blessing to him; when he made them idols, they became a curse. The connection of these lower gifts with the moral and intellectual gifts of wisdom, is the result of the natural law of God’s Providence, so far as that law overcomes the resistance of evil and folly, still allowed to strive against it.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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;
hast not
Psalms 4:6; Proverbs 16:31; Matthew 20:21,22; Romans 8:26; James 4:2,3
long life
Heb. many days. discern. Heb. hear.
9; *marg:
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 1:11 - this was;  Ezra 8:16 - men of understanding;  Psalm 119:173 - for;  Ecclesiastes 7:23 - I said;  Matthew 6:33 - seek;  Luke 12:31 - General1 Timothy 2:8 - without;  Hebrews 5:14 - to discern;  James 1:5 - any

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-3.html.