Solomon's wisdom is proverbial, and no doubt so far as worldly wisdom is concerned he is unsurpassed except by the One "greater than Solomon" [Matthew 12:42]. But "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" [I Corinthians 3:19], and from a spiritual standpoint Solomon thought and said and did many foolish things.
In fact, Solomon himself acknowledged that the true wisdom of God had escaped him in his philosophical search for truth by applying his own human wisdom to his own experiences and observations "under the sun": "All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me" [Ecclesiastes 7:23].
Nevertheless, even worldly wisdom is better than complete folly. Our lesson tells of Solomon's request for wisdom to be a good earthly king, which was good as far as it went. He would have been infinitely wiser, however, to ask for wisdom to be an obedient servant of God.
To outline the lesson, we note:
1. Worth, I Kings 3:3-5.
a. Following father, 3.
b. Special sacrifice, 4.
c. Opportune offer, 5.
2. Wisdom, I Kings 3:6-9.
a. Thankful thoughts, 6.
b. Humble heart, 7-9.
3. Wealth, I Kings 3:10-14.
a. Pleasant plentitude, 10-12.
b. Royal riches, 13.
c. Lengthened life, 14.
4. Worship, I Kings 3:15.
NOTES ON THE TEXT:
, I Kings 3:3-5.
Perhaps we may suppose that Solomon was most worthy of the sons of David to succeed his father on the throne. Certainly he was more worthy than those who tried to seize the throne through sedition and patricide. Chosen by his father for the position, Solomon evidently enjoyed much divine favor long before his dream in Gibeon. His attitude of appreciation for earlier gifts prepared him for the greater gifts that followed. See Luke 8: 18.
Following Father, 3.
God referred to David as "a man after mine own heart" [Acts 13:22], and generally speaking Solomon followed his father's example and statutes. Contrary to the excuses of some commentators, the words "only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places" do express a minor qualification of the inspired words of praise.
Special Sacrifice, 4.
From II Chronicles 1:3-6 we learn that this special sacrifice was made on the official brazen altar "before the tabernacle of the Lord." The new king’s zeal in worship found expression in the large number of his burnt offerings.
Opportune Offer, 5.
Like David and Solomon, we can offer to God no more than what is rightfully His own, though He has put it in our hands [I Chronicles 29:14-16]. But when we freely give to Him something of what He has freely given to us, He much more freely gives to us again. So here at the beginning of Solomon's reign, following his generous sacrifice at Gibeon, there came this opportune offer from God to Solomon to choose his own special gifts from the King of kings.
WISDOM, I Kings 3:6-9.
As fools generally take pride in their foolishness, so the wise man is mindful of his own limitations, and desires always to be more wise. So it was with Solomon: God had already given him enough wisdom to realize his need of more. The responsibilities of his new position weighed heavily upon him, and wisely he sought wisdom to do his job well.
Boasters in their own merit, their own accomplishments, their own supposed worthiness, are in no position to obtain divine blessing. Rather it is in thankfulness to God for undeserved blessings already received that we are prepared to receive more. Solomon's thankful thoughts dwelt on the kindness of God to his father David, a kindness extended now to him.
Humble Heart, 7 -9.
Compare the attitude and experience of the apostle Paul in meeting the responsibilities of a calling far higher than that of any earthly king. See for instance II Corinthians 3:5; 4:5-7; 12:7-10. Compare also the words of Jesus: "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" [Luke 18:14].
WEALTH, I Kings 3:10-14.
There are, of course, many kinds of wealth; and material riches are not the best or most enduring.
Pleasant Plentitude, 10-12.
When God is pleased with our requests, we can be sure that He will answer abundantly. If Solomon had asked to have more wisdom than any other man before or since, that he might enjoy a great and lasting reputation for wisdom, God would not have been pleased with such a selfish request. But what Solomon requested was wisdom to do his work well, and with that request God was pleased to give a plentious answer.
Royal Riches, 13.
Most kings, like other men, would desire riches and honor; and many exert much effort to get them. Solomon got them without asking for them.
Lengthened Life, 14.
How long we live in this world is not nearly so important as how well we live. Now, it is true that a multitude of factors enter into the question of how long we shall live, and only God knows the number of days determined; but it is a revealed though neglected truth of Scripture that, other things being equal, the better we live the longer we live. Notice that God's promise to Solomon of lengthened days was conditioned on an obedient walk. See also Ephesians 6:2-3; I Peter 3:10-12.
WORSHIP, I Kings 3:15.
Always worship is an appropriate response to divine blessing. And then note that Solomon "made a feast to all his servants." When God has given us a special blessing, it is surely most appropriate for us to bless others.
CONCLUSION [Proverbs 3:13]
Everybody wants to be happy, and our national Declaration of Independence claims for everyone the "right" to pursue happiness. Generally, however, the harder we pursue it the further it escapes us. More people make the mistake of seeking happiness in material things and physical sensations, but none of these things last. True and lasting happiness can be found only within our- selves in fellowship with our Creator. May God give us the wisdom and understanding to enjoy this experience!