7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth,possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
At some point you have probably been asked the question “if you could wish for anything, what would it be?” I expect most people would answer with requests that fall into five broad categories: wealth, status, fame, health or fulfillment of personal ambition, and these would be quite natural human responses. Our default setting is to put ourselves first, and ask for things that we think will make our lives more comfortable and prosperous.
In 1 Chronicles chapter 1, Solomon has the opportunity to have his wishes fulfilled. He has just become King of Israel, following in the footsteps of his father David and God appears to him and says “Ask whatever you want me to give you”.
We don’t know what went through Solomon’s mind at that point, whether he thought about asking for greater wealth and power or lasting health, but whatever his thought processes, he replied out of the desire of his heart saying “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
God, who is all powerful, gives Solomon a blank cheque, but Solomon does not cash it to himself. He acknowledges his inadequacy to lead the people and asks God to give him the wisdom and knowledge to be a good leader. The strange thing about this request is that it demonstrates Solomon’s wisdom and maturity, despite his self-effacing attitude and request for wisdom! God probably knew that Solomon would ask for this, which is why he gave him the opportunity to choose whatever he wanted. I wonder if God would have given such carte blanche to others who may have chosen wealth, power and status.
After Solomon made his request, God gave him the gifts of knowledge and understanding, because these were his heart’s desire (v11). However, God did not stop there and gave Solomon “wealth, riches and honour, such as no king who was before [him] ever had”.
Solomon recognised that wealth and power were temporary and in themselves can lead to corruption and evil. He wanted to be equipped to do the task that God had called him to do, and to do it well. Despite having wealth and status as heir to the throne, he knew his limitations and asked God to provide. God will never turn you away when you acknowledge your weakness and ask for help. As Solomon writes in Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding”.
We are not reliant on making a wish by blowing out a birthday candle, or rubbing a lamp and hoping for a genie to emerge. We follow and awesome and powerful God who knows what we need before we need it, understands the desires of our hearts, and answers our prayers.