“And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9, ESV)
When King Solomon became King of Israel after the death of his father, David, the Lord appeared to him in a dream to ask him what he wanted. Solomon did not ask for riches, fame, or a long life: he asked for wisdom to do God’s work. He already had the foundation of wisdom because he was wise enough to pray this prayer. He knew he need God’s wisdom to help him. Solomon did not ask for wisdom it in order to benefit himself, or to acquire wealth, fame, prosperity or glory. He desired it so he could properly govern the people with justice and truth. He was very concerned to do the right thing before God, as it was His people he was ruling. In order to rule as God’s servant, he would have to know and discern His will and His word. He also knew he could not be cruel, mean or tyrannical. He had to be fair, just, and merciful.
As for us, we need wisdom desperately. Here we are in the first week of a new year. This year promises to be as difficult as the last one was. Judging by the social and broadcast media, there are millions of people who claim to have the intelligence to tell others how to live in this chaotic times, how to deal with COVID and the pandemic. They proclaim their knowledge with great confidence and authority. But intelligence is not wisdom.
Wisdom comes from God in Christ Jesus, from knowing Him by faith, from trusting Him, from depending on Him for everything. Wisdom starts where it began with Solomon, knowing and acknowledging that we cannot live without the Lord God. He gives us wisdom to help us make good choices, to properly discern right from wrong. Wisdom helps us to obey those in authority. It helps us love other people and be kind to them. Wisdom helps us to figure out what to do in difficult situations and in the chaotic times we are living through. We Christians need such wisdom when dealing with other people because they lack the wisdom that God grants. Sometimes we act with anger or condemnation toward sinners, while the Lord would rather we treat them with respect, loving-kindness and mercy despite the revulsion we may feel towards them. Rather than hate them we should feel compassion because they are enslaved by sin and are bound for hell.
In order to show compassion rather than anger or hate, we need the true wisdom which comes from God. It is not the result of formal education, the acquiring of facts and knowledge and being able to use it appropriately. We need the wisdom of God to deal with people and to treat all sinners with compassion. Many of those sinners, when treated with mercy and love, will respond in repentance but even if not, we who are His servants will honor the Lord as we demonstrate His wisdom and love, for this is what Jesus did for us.