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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Kings 2:10–12, 3:3–14

Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 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, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” (NRSV)

Reflection
Type “pleased the Lord” into the search bar on www.bible.oremus.org and you will be served a single result: 1 Kings 3:10. (“The Lord is pleased” and “The Lord was pleased” return zero results each.) The lone thing in the biblical narrative that is ever said to please the Lord is not some secret chord played by King David (with apologies to Leonard Cohen: www.bit.ly/2LNegwd), but the dreamy request of Solomon, David’s son, for an understanding and discerning mind.

Solomon, the newly minted king, has a pessimistic view of his suitability for the job. With a candor only accessible in dreams, he calls himself a “little child” and suggests he can’t even navigate a simple doorway. That’s a problem, because he’s in charge now. He’s the successor to his almost-universally-lauded father, and Solomon’s sure he isn’t up to the task. Not even close.

I get this. Three times in my career I have moved to a new call, and each time I have exhausted myself right out of the gate studying and planning for things I’m sure I’m not prepared for. I lay awake nights dreaming dreams in which I fail publicly and spectacularly. Busyness is my way of coping (don’t ask me how that’s going).

Solomon doesn’t pore over maps and budgets and personnel in his transition dream, though. He simply admits his inability for the task and asks for God’s help. He’s not after techniques or strategies but understanding and discernment—wisdom. That’s important, because, while strategies change with circumstance and the conditions on the ground, wisdom works everywhere.

God is more than happy to oblige.

Prayer
Grant us understanding and discerning minds, O God, that we may see this world and ourselves rightly and clearly and that we may act boldly and decisively, with the confidence of those who have been taught by you. In the name of your Son, our teacher, Jesus. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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