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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today’s Reading | 1 Kings 3:3–15

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.”

Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants. (NRSV)

Reflection

“God’s reconciliation in Jesus Christ is the ground of the peace, justice, and freedom among nations which all powers of government are called to serve and defend. The church, in its own life, is called to . . . commend to the nations as practical politics the search for cooperation and peace.”
—PC(USA) Book of Confession: The Confession of 1967

In his imagined dialogue The Republic, Plato places this warning in Socrates’ mouth—that, “he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.” This is a warning that American Christians might want to take more seriously. We, like the person questioning Socrates, might object that politics seems so distant from the morally pure life that we would like to lead, is based on expressions of self-interest, deals in base notions of wealth and power, is open to abuses—the list of objections to getting involved is long.

Consider Solomon’s request of God. The story begins by revealing that Solomon is not perfect, yet the request he makes of God in a dream—that he be given the wisdom to rule God’s people well—reveals his desire to live fully into the position of power and influence that God has granted him and to do so in a way that pleases God.

We, also, should not shy away from the power and influence that we have been granted. God calls us to affect the decisions that are made by our public institutions—and sometimes God even calls us to exercise the power to govern the people, always seeking God’s wisdom as we do so.

Prayer
Almighty God, who granted Solomon wisdom beyond compare, give us hearts that are willing to step forward to do your will and minds that are capable of understanding how. Make us bold to enter into public debate and systems of power so that, in our actions and words, the love you revealed to us in Christ might be active in the world. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim,
Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Young Adult Ministry

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