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1 Kings 3:115comment (0)

August 2, 2007

By Sigurd Bryan

Related Scripture: 1 Kings 3:115

Director, Samford Sundays, Samford University

When Overwhelmed by Responsibilities
1 Kings 3:1–15

Turn to the Lord (1–4)

Early in his reign as king over Israel, Solomon entered into a marriage alliance with pharaoh, king of Egypt. He took the daughter of pharaoh as his wife and brought her into the city of Jerusalem. Later he built her a house (1 Kings 9:24) but not before he had built his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. Such a marriage became part of Solomon’s foreign policy of keeping peace with neighboring kings (1 Kings 11:1–3). In this aspect of his life, Solomon made a poor choice. He failed to turn to the Lord for direction. In the end, this decision resulted in judgment upon his kingdom (1 Kings 11:9–13).

As the new king of Israel, Solomon was faced with a weighty responsibility. He had a vast territory over which to reign. His father, David, had extended the kingdom to its greatest extent geographically. It is likely that it was the weight of this tremendous responsibility that caused Solomon to go to the principal worship site at Gibeon — about six miles northwest of Jerusalem — to seek the Lord’s help and guidance. In this decision, Solomon acted wisely.

Focus on What’s Important (5–9)
The Lord responded to Solomon’s sacrifice at Gibeon by appearing to him in a dream by night. In this appearance, God said, “Ask what I should give you.” In responding to that offer from God, Solomon spoke of the steadfast love that God had shown to David and the fact that now He had given David a son to sit on his throne. Solomon must have thought in that moment of the great responsibility that was his in ruling over the large and diverse kingdom he had inherited from his father. He felt inadequate. He was overwhelmed by the greatness of the task.

He confessed, “I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” The phrase “going out and coming in” is often used in the Old Testament in speaking of warfare, going out to battle and coming into battle. David had been a fearless warrior. Solomon was confessing he did not know how to fight or lead in battle. He had no heart for warfare. How, then, could he maintain his kingdom without knowing how to put down rebellions and other disorders that were sure to arise? How could he maintain peace and have a just and prosperous reign?

Solomon’s request was a noble and unselfish request. He asked for an understanding mind to govern the people and the ability to discern between good and evil. An “understanding mind” could be translated “a listening heart.” That would mean listening to the cries and needs of the people and to the voice of God. Close contact with his people and close communion with God would enable him to be the kind of ruler he needed to be.

Walk in God’s Ways (10–15)
The worship experience was a great moment in Solomon’s life. He truly did love the Lord (1 Kings 3:3a) and wanted to be a good and just ruler. God was pleased with Solomon’s request. He had not selfishly asked for the life of his enemies or long life for himself. Rather he had requested a listening heart enabling him to discern what was right.

So God said to him, “I 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; I give you also what you have not asked, but riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you” (12–13).

When Solomon awoke from his dream, he returned to Jerusalem, stood before the Ark of the Covenant and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. By these offerings, he and his servants were dedicating themselves wholly to God and expressing their desire that Solomon’s reign would be one of peace.
When our responsibilities become too many and we feel overwhelmed, we would do well to follow Solomon’s example: turn to the Lord, acknowledge our sense of inadequacy, dedicate ourselves afresh to Him and ask for wisdom to manage the responsibilities. God will respond favorably (James 1:5).

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