Abiathar, Adonijah and Shemei had all been dealt with. “So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip” (I Kings 2:46b, NLT). What was Solomon’s next move as the new king?
“Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built” (I Kings 3:3, 2).
Until the temple was built, it was permissible to sacrifice to God at “local places.” It was never and never would or will be okay to sacrifice to any other gods. After the temple was constructed, all sacrifices were to be made there.
“The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!’” (I Kings 3:4-5).
“Solomon replied, ‘You showed faithful love to Your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to You. And You have continued Your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne” (I Kings 3:6).
“Now, O Lord my God, You have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of Your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern Your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:7-9).
At the time David turned the kingdom over to him, Bible scholars range Solomon’s age between seven and twenty. He was young enough to be easily influenced and vulnerable; he was wise enough to know what to ask of the Lord.
“The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, ‘Because you have asked for wisdom in governing My people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies – I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for – riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!” (I Kings 3:10-13).
The Lord knows every heart. Solomon asked for what he truly desired. So many people then and nowadays think having “riches and fame” will fix everything when all it takes is looking at a few tabloids to realize how far from true that is. Solomon asked for the most important thing any of God’s people could desire: “an understanding heart.” And that, my brothers and sisters, is what opened God’s heart to bless him in such an extraordinary way.
Then the Lord issued the big “if” warning: “And if you follow Me and obey My decrees and My commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life” (I Kings 3:14).
We’ve seen it over and over, folks: conditional covenants; conditional blessings. Want God’s best? Be faithful and seek His will and not your own.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates